What Happens now After Pakistan’s PM Disqualification?

The Supreme Court has ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power, bringing about an unceremonious end to his third term in the office ahead of general elections that are scheduled for next year. There has not been a single Pakistani Prime Minister who successfully completed a full five-year term.

The tenure of most of them has been cut short by the Supreme Court or the country’s powerful military. In some cases, they were ousted by their own party, assassinated or forced to resign.

While Mr. Sharif has been disqualified as the country’s prime minister, he still remains the head of the governing political party, The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). This means that he will oversee the nomination of his successor who will then be rubber stamped through a vote in the parliament where Mr. Sharif’s party and his coalition partners have a majority of 209 seats in a 342-seat house.

A candidate will also be fielded by the opposition for the premiership, but their nominee has no chances of getting the number of votes required to be stamped. The vote is probably going to happen within a couple of days or may also happen in a few hours.

A similar incident had occurred in 2012 when the Supreme Court had ousted then-prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, over contempt of court charges because of his refusal to reopen a corruption case against the then-President Asif Ali Zardari. After Gilani’s removal, President Zardari led the negotiations for finding a suitable replacement for the premiership as he was the head of the then-ruling Pakistan’s People Property. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had been chosen after three days. He was also a controversial choice due to corruption allegations, but the National Assembly eventually elected him.

In theory, it is possible for Mr. Sharif and his party to challenge the court’s decision, but it is highly unlikely they will do so. A review petition could be filed by his legal team, but on limited grounds like a mistake in judgment. Yasser Latif Hamdani, a constitutional lawyer said that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter and interpreter of the constitution so if they say this is how something is done, then that’s the way to go.

The possibility of early elections is also unlikely because the constitution states that they can only be called by the president on the prime minister’s advice, which means that Mr. Sharif’s successor has to be selected first.