Islamabad [Pakistan] : Even though today's Panamagate verdict by the Pakistan Supreme Court neither gave a clean chit nor a disqualification to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it essentially places the leader at the mercy of the Army.
The apex court by a verdict of 3-2 ordered the formation of a Joint Investigation Committee (JIT) to probe whether Sharif and his family is guilty of amassing illegal wealth abroad. The committee is going to comprise of former and serving army related officers, according to informed sources.
The verdict said the JIT to be led by a director-general level FIA officer is to include officials from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), State Bank of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence.
Sources say this verdict is a takeover of Sharif by the army.
The military has ruled Pakistan for much of its history since 1947 and historic distrust has always strained relations between the two branches of power - the civil and the military.
The Panama Papers, which refer to a massive trove of secret documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca - which specialised in helping the global elite stash wealth in offshore tax havens - had said that the Prime Minister's children Maryam, Hasan and Hussain Nawaz "were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several [offshore] companies".
At least eight offshore companies were found to have links to the Sharif family in the documents that were leaked following which the case was filed by various petitioners - PTI chief Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq and Sheikh Rashid Ahmed - seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Sharif over his alleged misstatement in his address to the nation on April 5 and his speech before the National Assembly on May 16, 2016.
The petitioners claimed that the Prime Minister lied about the investments made by his children in offshore companies, which led to the acquisition of four apartments in London's upscale Park Lane neighbourhood.