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Pakistani Prime Minister ‘Survives’ Removal from Office | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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This file photograph taken on November 13, 2016, shows Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif waving as he arrives to attend a ceremony in Gwadar port. AAMIR QURESHI / AFP

Islamabad- Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that more investigations were needed about accusations of money laundering against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying the evidence in the Panama Papers leak was insufficient to force Sharif’s removal from office.

The prime minister survived the attempt to unseat him after three of the five judges on the court bench said he should not step down, while two supported the move.

The Panama case ruling was announced in favor of the prime minister, prompting his supporters to celebrate in the streets of Islamabad.

The court also ordered that a joint investigation team be formed to look into allegations concerning the transfer of Sharif and his family of money from Pakistan to Qatar, the same money that was used later to buy properties in London, according to some reports.

The court said the team has two months to complete its inquiry. Several parties, including the state bank, the Inter-Services Intelligence and the military intelligence will be part of the investigation team.

The case against Sharif emerged last year when opposition political figures, including cricket star Imran Khan, the chair of the opposition Pakistan Movement of Justice party, wanted to oust the prime minister after the Panama Papers were leaked alleging offshore assets of Sharif and his family.

Khan’s supporters gathered outside the Supreme Court building on Thursday and chanted: “Go Imran, Go.”

Opposition leaders also accused the prime minister of money laundering when he was in power between 1990 and 1993.

Railway Minister Saad Rafique, also Sharif’s political advisor, said that the prime minister would resign if the accusations made against him or his family, were evidenced.

Sharif and his family have denied the accusations. Last year, the prime minister told parliament that his family’s wealth was acquired legally in the decades before he entered politics.