Given Pakistan’s history of coups, political dysfunction and high-level graft, the Supreme Court’s decision to oust Nawaz Sharif as prime minister for lying about his allegedly ill-gotten wealth would seem a victory for transparency and the rule of law. In fact, the verdict raises as many questions as it answers.
Sharif resigned on Friday when the court disqualified him from office after a corruption investigation into his family’s finances. The probe found a wide gap between the Sharifs’ wealth (revealed in part through the Panama Papers leak) and their stated sources of income. The justices declared him “not honest” — hence in breach of a constitutional requirement for serving in parliament. The ruling party will choose a replacement to serve until elections expected next year.
Nobody should be above the law, but the circumstances surrounding the judgement are troubling. The justices have faced pressure from rival politician Imran Khan, who has been campaigning to drive Sharif from office. At times Khan has appeared to have the support of the country’s military, said to be irked by Sharif’s attempts to make peace with India and put former dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf on trial.