By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday ousted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as head of his party, a court record said.
A three-member bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar ruled that any person who has been disqualified for the parliament, cannot serve as the party president as well.
Sharif, 67, who had been disqualified to act not only as prime minister but also president of his party by the Supreme Court in July last year in the whistleblower Panama Papers scandal, was however re-elected as the president of his Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz group) in line with an election reforms bill adopted by the parliament in October last.
The Supreme Court also declared all the decisions taken by Sharif as party president, including the allocation of party tickets for the forthcoming Senate elections “null and void”.
The judgment also hung the fate of the Senate elections scheduled to be held in March, in the balance, local broadcaster Express News reported quoting constitutional experts.
In her sharp reaction, Information Minister Mariyam Aurungzeb termed the judgment “expected”, and “biased”, and accused the judiciary of targeting Sharif and his family.
“Nawaz Sharif will remain our leader despite these kind of judgments. He will decide who will be the next prime minister and the party leader,” an emotional Aurungzeb told reporters.
She declined to tell if her party would file a review petition against the judgment, saying “the party will take a decision on the matter after consultation".
Sharif himself had also warned that the “people of Pakistan” would not accept any such decision aimed at ousting him from politics.
The court ruled in July that Sharif had acted in an untrustworthy manner by failing to declare a salary from his son’s Dubai-based company ahead of the 2013 election.
The court had also ordered the opening of corruption cases against Sharif and his family members over revelations stemming from the Panama Papers scandal.
The former premier, who has held the premiership thrice but never completed a full term, maintains his innocence and has rejected all accusations of financial irregularities against him.
He has repeatedly said that all transactions made by his family members were fair and in compliance with the country’s laws.
Shehbaz Sharif, a younger brother of Sharif and the chief minister of Punjab province is likely to take over as the new party president, according to analysts.
Shehbaz has already been nominated as the party's candidate for the prime minister in the next general elections scheduled for August this year.