IN A MAJOR BLOW to Nawaz Sharif's political career, Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday disqualified the ousted prime minister as the chief of his own party and struck down all decisions taken by him as the party head.
Sharif, 68, was disqualified as the prime minister by the apex court in the Panama Papers case in July, 2017 under Article 62 for failing to declare a receivable salary as an asset.
The court’s verdict was in response to petitions that challenged the Elections Act 2017, which was bulldozed through the Upper and Lower Houses last year, paving the way for Sharif to become the head of the ruling PML-N party.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, declared Article 17 of the law —allowing Sharif to resume duties as the head of the party — null and void. The court said that anyone who is unable to fulfil the requirements of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution — which state that a member of the parliament should be "truthful” and "righteous” — cannot hold any public office, including the post of a party head.
"The Election Commission is directed to remove name of Nawaz Sharif as president of PML-N from all official records,” Nisar said.
"As a result, all steps taken, all orders passed by Nawaz Sharif are also declared to be as if they had never been taken."
The verdict will not affect the PML-N's registration as a party. However, decisions taken by Sharif will be nullified, including tickets issued by him for the Senate elections.
With the judgement, it is possible that the Senate elections scheduled for 3 March will have to be postponed.
Sharif and some of his family members are facing charges relating to their ownership of posh properties in London.
Three cases were registered by the National Accountability Bureau against Sharif, his children and son-in-law in the court on September 8.
Sharif is also being tried by a separate anti-corruption court on other charges - proceedings ordered by the Supreme Court last July - and could face jail when that trial winds up as soon as next month.