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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Pakistan's top court rejects appeal against removal of Nawaz Sharif

Judges say disqualification of former prime minister will stand, as well action taken against his family members

Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, takes a picture with a supporter at a rally in Lahore on September 9, 2017, while campaigning for her mother in the by-election for the seat vacated by her father. Drazen Jorgic / Reuters
Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, takes a picture with a supporter at a rally in Lahore on September 9, 2017, while campaigning for her mother in the by-election for the seat vacated by her father. Drazen Jorgic / Reuters

Pakistan's supreme court has rejected petitions seeking a review of its July 28 ruling that disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif from office

After an investigation into the Sharif family's wealth, the supreme court employed a little-used constitutional provision to rule Mr Sharif unfit to hold office because he did not declare a small source of income, which he has disputed receiving.

The country's top court also disqualified three of Mr Sharif's children, including heir-apparent Maryam and her husband, besides ordering a criminal investigation into the Sharifs and finance minister Ishaq Dar, who has stayed in his post.

On Friday, a five-judge bench dismissed the petitions filed by the Sharifs and Mr Dar, without specifying reasons.

"All the review petitions stand dismissed," said Asif Saeed Khosa, who headed the bench, which is expected to provide the reasons for its decision next week.

It remains unclear, however, whether the Sharifs will be disqualified for a fixed time, perhaps several years, or be barred from office forever.

That could have major implications for Mr Sharif and his daughter Maryam. She is being touted as a future leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, and is likely to run for parliament in elections next year.

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Read more:

Wife of ousted Pakistani PM to stand for his parliament seat

Why Sharif's dismissal failed to generate shock and outrage

Pakistan: 70 years after Partition

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Mr Sharif's disqualification stems from the Panama Papers leaks last year which appeared to show that his daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy properties in London.

In April, the supreme court ruled there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif from office - by a split 2-3 verdict - over the Panama revelations but it ordered further investigations into his family's wealth.

The judges in July said Mr Sharif did not declare a monthly salary, equivalent to US$2,722 (Dh10,000), from a company owned by his son when the veteran leader, who had held power twice in the 1990s, become prime minister for the third time.

Last month Mr Sharif led legions of supporters from the capital Islamabad to his hometown, Lahore, in a days-long procession that brought thousands into the streets in a show of force.

During the trip he repeatedly blasted the supreme court's actions, saying its decision was an "insult" to Pakistanis.

The court's latest ruling comes days ahead of a by-election to fill Mr Sharif's parliamentary seat in Lahore that is being contested by his wife Kulsum, who is being treated for throat cancer in London.

The seat has long been controlled by Mr Sharif and his allies who consider Lahore to be their political stronghold.

Mr Sharif has also kept a grip on the ruling PML-N party, which has a solid majority in parliament, and selected one of his loyalists, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, to replace him as prime minister.

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