Politics

Disqualified Pakistani PM Sharif challenges dismissal

Former leader files petition to challenge verdict that saw him disqualified from public office for undeclared assets.

Pakistan's Supreme Court disqualified Sharif on July 28 on the grounds that he was no longer “honest and trustworthy” [FILE: AFP]

Islamabad, Pakistan - Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has challenged his disqualification from office, requesting a review of the verdict which saw him dismissed for failing to declare his wealth on a parliamentary declaration.

In three legal petitions submitted to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Sharif termed the landmark verdict as "suffer[ing] from errors floating on the surface of the record".

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif on July 28, making him the latest prime minister in Pakistan's 70-year history not to be allowed to complete his term in office.

He has since led rallies across his political heartland of Punjab, criticising the verdict as politically motivated.

Sharif was succeeded in office by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a staunch party loyalist who was elected as prime minister without fuss on August 1, given Sharif's PML-N party's majority in parliament.

The Supreme Court verdict was preceded by a months-long corruption investigation into assets held by Sharif and his children, prompted by revelations from the "Panama Papers" leak in 2016 that showed his children owned three undeclared offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The court also ordered corruption charges to be filed against Sharif, his children and several close aides, including Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, with the country's anti-corruption watchdog directed to complete their trials within seven months.

In the legal filing on Tuesday, Sharif also requested that the court halt any corruption proceedings until after the review petition is adjudicated upon.

Disqualified

Sharif was disqualified on the grounds that he did not declare a monthly salary worth 10,000 UAE dirhams (roughly $2,700) owed to him by UAE-based firm Capital FZE, which was owned by his son.

Sharif contends that he never withdrew the salary, and so was not legally obliged to declare it, as per Pakistan's income tax code.

"It is thus evident in this respect the judgment manifestly suffers from an error apparent on the face of the record, and merits review as such," read Sharif's petition.

In a 40-page petition, Sharif challenged the court's verdict on 18 grounds, including allegations that a high-level Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the corruption allegations was biased.

READ MORE: What's next for Nawaz Sharif?

It will now be up to the court to decide on whether to admit Sharif's review petition.

Historically, review petitions offer extremely narrow grounds upon which the judgments of Pakistan's top court can be challenged.

Sharif was disqualified by the court on the grounds that he was no longer "honest and trustworthy", as per a controversial constitutional clause inserted by military ruler Zia-ul-Haq in 1985.

Pakistan has been ruled by the military for roughly half of its 70-year history, and no civilian prime minister has ever completed a full term in office.

Sharif himself has been dismissed twice before, during previous terms in office in the 1990s. In 1993, he resigned after a confrontation with the country's president, and in 1999 he was deposed in a military coup.

Other prime ministers have been removed through votes of no-confidence in the parliament, dismissals of the legislative assemblies or orders from the Supreme Court.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera's Web Correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

Source: Al Jazeera