By Elton Gomes
In a landmark ruling, Pakistan’s Supreme Court (SC) has banned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from participating in elections for life. The SCt banned Sharif under Article 62(1)(f), which states that a member of the parliament should be honest and righteous. Sharif was disqualified under the same Article 62 after his name surfaced in the Panama Papers scandal.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial read out the decision and stated that in the future, the disqualification of any member of parliament under Article 62 (1)(f) will be “permanent”. In other words, as per Pakistan’s SC’s verdict, Sharif can no longer contest elections or become a member of the parliament, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.
Here’s what happened:
Nawaz Sharif and the Panama Papers probe
In July 2017, Sharif resigned as Pakistan’s prime minister after the SC disqualified him from holding office. According to a report by the Independent, the SC said that Sharif was not fit to hold office. The court ordered an anti-corruption case against the former prime minister and his family, as they were unable to account for his wealth.
Sharif however, consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case.
Shortly after the lifetime ban on Sharif was announced, his party completely dismissed the ruling. Pakistan’s information minister, Maryam Aurangzeb, said that the verdict was a “joke that has already been played on previous prime ministers,” Dawn reported. Aurangzeb added, “This decision is the result of a conspiracy by ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’.”
Aurangzeb also warned Sharif’s opponents to “be scared” of the former prime minister, as his slogan about respecting the vote, “vote ko izzat do,” was gaining popularity among the masses.
According to a report by the NPR, Sharif’s supporters believe that the SC is working hand-in-hand with Pakistan’s military to ensure that Sharif cannot emerge in Pakistan’s politics. His supporters reportedly view the courts verdict as a plan to dethrone the PML-N, even as it is poised for another victory in the upcoming election.
Why you should care:
What the verdict means for Pakistan’s future
“The lifetime disqualification will damage the party in elections besides putting deeper cracks into the party ranks,” Mazhar Abbas, a political analyst from Karachi, told Bloomberg. Abbbas added, “(It is important to see) whether he (Sharif) would wait for the PML- N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) to win the elections or take aggressive steps like boycotting the ballot or starting street protests.”
As Pakistan prepares to head to voting polls in July, the SC’s verdict to ban Sharif for life appears to have escalated the nation’s political instability.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Khursheed Shah said that Sharif has no one to blame but himself for his current condition, and that the court’s verdict is as per the constitution.
“Nawaz Sharif himself supported Article 62 and he has been caught in his own trap,” Shah said, Dawn reported. Shah added Sharif could have allowed Article 62 to be abolished in the 18th Amendment, but the former prime minister had not agreed to do so.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif’s brother, took to Twitter to praise him, claiming that he represents “a philosophy and an ideology of public service”.
Nawaz Sharif is not the name of a person. Rather he represents a philosophy and an ideology of public service, supremacy of constitution and respect of vote. A leader like him does not need any formal office to continue guiding his party & serving his people. https://t.co/bSnQsDaV7B
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) April 13, 2018
Keeping in mind the considerable political support the former prime minister still enjoys, will Nawaz Sharif disappear from Pakistani politics? Or will his party come into power once again, and revive his career by rewriting the constitution? Only time will tell how this political saga is likely to play out. However the outcome of this saga is sure to affect the future political climate between Pakistan and India.
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