‘New chapter of accountability’: How Pak media reacted to SC order on Sharif
Most Pakistani newspapers and TV channels backed the ruling by the country’s top court, which acted on petitions filed by Sharif’s political opponents alleging that he and his family failed to disclose assets mentioned in the so-called Panama Papers.world Updated: Jul 29, 2017 12:27 IST
Pakistan’s pro-army media on Saturday hailed former Prime Minister’s Nawaz Sharif’s indictment for corruption as a “new chapter for accountability” in the country, describing the Supreme Court verdict as the “aspiration” of the people.
Though there were a few contrarian views, most newspapers and TV channels backed the ruling by the country’s top court, which acted on petitions filed by Sharif’s political opponents alleging that he and his family failed to disclose assets mentioned in the so-called Panama Papers.
The court ordered that criminal charges be filed against Sharif and four relatives. Sharif, 67, stepped down shortly after Friday’s verdict.
“PM sent packing,” said the daily Express Tribune while the pro-army BOL TV insisted that not only was the decision correct and overdue, “it would (also) open a new chapter for accountability in Pakistan”.
Host Arshad Sharif of ARY TV said the Supreme Court “acted in accordance with the aspirations of the people”, referring to growing resentment against the Sharifs over corruption charges.
The pro-Nawaz paper, The News, in its lead story lamented that the PM has been dismissed because of hiding his Dubai salary – a reference to Sharif’s failure to declare monthly income, equal to $2,722, from a Dubai-based company his son owned. Sharif’s lawyers argued on Friday that no charge of corruption or abuse of authority has been proved in a criminal trial.
The paper also carried a story that the PM had been sent home “despite having zero corruption evidence”.
Dawn TV on Friday invited independent legal expert and human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir who said hat the SC decision had set a bad example.
She said if the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – the opposition party led by former cricket Imran Khan -- wanted full accountability, “why was it not mentioning the judge whose name was mentioned in the JIT report.”.
The JIT –Joint Investigation Team (JIT) – was formed to probe the Panama Papers. In its findings in a 254-report, the JIT said Sharif’s family assets do not match their earnings and also also accused his children, including daughter Maryam, of signing forged documents to obscure ownership of their London flats.
Jahangir also that when there is talk of indpendence and accountability, she would believe this “the day the defence budget is debated in parliament”.
The Daily Dawn newspaper, which is seen as independent, led with the headline ‘Another prime minister comes to grief’.
In an editorial, the paper said that Nawaz Sharif could have resigned and saved the country from the tumultous political episode and called for “accountability of unelected officials as well”.