Pakistan’s Supreme Court has given the country’s prime minister a reprieve of two months during which further investigations on a corruption case will be conducted. In their ruling, the 5-judge panel said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should remain in office until a 60-day investigation into the finances of his family have been conducted. Three judges ruled in favor of the reprieve while two judges wanted immediate and complete remove of Sharif.
“The formation of a joint investigation team suggests there is a need to investigate a crime … I believe Nawaz Sharif will be significantly weakened and questions will continue over his future,” said Ikram Sehgal, a Pakistani political analyst.
The corruption allegations against Sharif were set off following the release of the Panama Papers. This was after it came to light that his children owned offshore assets and firms which were not disclosed in the wealth account of his family.
After the verdict, a minister in Sharif’s cabinet declared victory and said that the prime minister’s party had been vindicated since when the corruption allegations first surfaced, Sharif had asked for the formation of a commission to conduct investigations and the supreme court had ordered exactly that.
But former cricketer and opposition leader, Imran Khan, asked Sharif to resign as he awaited the submission of a report by the investigative unit as ordered by the Supreme Court since he now lacked the more authority to govern. This was echoed by Asif Ali Zardari, a former president.
In recent years, Prime Minister Sharif has helped herald an improved security environment in Pakistan after the army cracked down on terrorist groups. This has helped the economy start showing signs of recovery. Just this week the World Bank said that the economy of Pakistan would record a growth rate of over 5% in 2017.
Before the verdict, there was concern in the business community that the removal of Sharif would reverse the modest economic revival that the economy has experienced. Last year for instance, Pakistan’s stock market emerged as the best-performing in Asia. The country’s infrastructure is also set for improvement following the provision of loans by China.