Islamabad, September 15: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the review petitions filed by the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, challenging his disqualification in the Panama Papers scandal.
Sharif, his children and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had filed separate petitions challenging the apex court's landmark verdict on July 28 in which the 67-year-old leader was disqualified from continuing in office.
It was also ordered that corruption cases be filed against him and his children -- Hussain, Hassan and Maryam Nawaz -- son-in-law Mohammad Safdar and Dar.
A five-member bench of the court headed by justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa heard the review petitions. It was the same panel which had disqualified Sharif. "All these review petitions are dismissed," said justice Khosa, who oversaw the five-member review panel.
With the rejection of the petitions, Sharif has exhausted all legal options to challenge his disqualification, jeopardising his chances to stage a political comeback.
However, politically, if his Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) party wins next year's elections with a two- thirds majority in Parliament, it can amend the Constitution to change the life-time disqualification to a limited period of time.
Today's ruling comes ahead of Sunday's by-election to fill Sharif's parliamentary seat in Lahore that is being contested by his ailing wife Kulsoom, who is being treated for throat cancer in London.
The Sharif family and Dar will now face four corruption cases filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the accountability court. During the hearing, Sharif's advocate Khawaja Harris argued that how could the former premier be disqualified for not declaring a salary which he never received.
But the court rejected the pleas. Harris also argued that Sharif could not be disqualified for not declaring his assets and only his election could be declared null and void but the court rejected that argument as well. Several other technical objections by the petitioners were also overruled and the apex court maintained its decision of July 28.
Talking to reporters outside the court, PML-N leader and Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rahman said the court's decision to dismiss the review petitions was a cause of "disappointment" for her party.
She said the court should have reconsidered its verdict to disqualify Sharif for not disclosing the salary he was entitled to receive from Capital FZE, a firm run by Sharif's son in the UAE. She expressed the fear that Sharif family will not get a fair trial in accountability court if a Supreme Court monitoring judge oversees the trial proceedings.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan thanked the Supreme Court for ending what he referred to as the "rule of the mafia".
He said the Sharifs had attempted to get the monitoring judge removed during court proceedings to delay the cases against them, but their efforts have failed with the Supreme Court's dismissal of review petitions.
The Panama Papers case in Pakistan is based on leaks that the Sharif children owned offshore companies to manage their properties in London, which opposition alleges were bought with unaccounted money.