Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif survived a Supreme Court ruling Thursday over corruption allegations that could have seen him ousted from office. The opposition accuses Sharif of failing to explain the source of money in offshore companies owned by his children and of lying to parliament.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday narrowly managed to save his premiership after a Pakistan Supreme Court bench declared there was "insufficient evidence" to remove him from office but ordered setting up of a Joint Investigation Team to probe the graft allegations against his family.
Dawn News reported that a PML-N insider said "the option of early elections (this year) is being discussed by the leadership in case the apex court's decision affects Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif".
The JIT will present its report before the bench after every two weeks.
Reading the 540-page verdict, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa asked how the Sharif family assets were transferred from Pakistan to Jeddah in the first place. While three judges were of the opinion that further investigation is needed in the case, two were for disqualifying the Prime Minister.
The leaked documents from the Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, had revealed the hidden offshore wealth of some of the world's top leaders and celebrities.
Both the prime minister's supporters and his critics have been claiming today's decision as a victory. Sharif and his daughter told the Supreme Court last November that their London property was bought through investments in companies owned by the Qatari ruling family.
Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif might have narrowly escaped the jinx attached with April, a month in which Pakistani premiers have previously been overthrown, sentenced to life and hanged.
Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan had filed a petition about the illegal assets held by Mr Sharif and his family in London.
Government supporters could be seen celebrating the judgement with candies outside the court in Islamabad, where around 1,500 police commandos and riot forces had been deployed ahead of the highly anticipated decision.
Such a move would leave Sharif's party in power, but trigger intense turmoil just when the economy is showing modest growth and security has improved as the civilian government and the powerful military have appeared to come to uneasy terms.
Even though the Pakistan prime minister was given a reprieve after the Supreme Court ordered an investigation into corruption allegations, but his fate still hangs in balance with the court deciding to form an investigation team.
Khan also accepted the verdict and said his party has been vindicated that Sharif was involved in corruption.