Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif (pictured) cannot reenter politics for the rest of his life, the country’s top court ruled on Friday.
The order came ahead of parliamentary elections later this year. The three-time former prime minister is still the boss in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and his banishment from politics may harm the party’s electoral chances.
Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb of the PML-N party described Friday’s court ruling as a “joke.”
This is political victimisation. It is not the job of the court to declare any politician righteous or not. Parliament or the Election Commission is supposed to do that, she said.
Sharif, 68, was disqualified and removed from office last year over Panama Papers case linking his family to offshore companies. After Sharif was ousted, his brother Shabaz formally took charge of the PML-N last month.
Sharif’s removal from politics will give the military more room to play behind the scene in a country which has been under military rule for half of its history.
Sharif’s critics accuse him and his family of laundering money from Pakistan and using it to buy properties in London.
His family have consistently denied this and claimed that they received properties in London as a settlement for an investment they had with Qatar’s royals in the 1980s.
Sharif’s supporters say he was a victim of a conspiracy hatched by the military establishment.
Elections scheduled for August will be fought mainly between PML-N and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party led by former cricket star Imran Khan. Despite a number of court rulings against the PML-N, it continues to win by-elections and remains the strongest party in Pakistan.
Sharif is currently facing dozens of cases in accountability court. If found guilty, he will face up to 21 years jail term.