Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who resigned after the court ruled he was unfit to hold office and ordered a criminal investigation into his family over corruption allegations.
Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, which has a majority in parliament, is expected to name a new prime minister to hold office until elections due next year.
In a surprise move, the court also dismissed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, one of Sharif’s closest allies, who has been credited with steering the economy to its fastest pace of growth in a decade.
The disqualifications plunge Pakistan into another bout of political turmoil after a period of relative stability, which coincided with improving security in the nuclear-armed nation.
The ouster of Sharif, who served as premier on three separate occasions, also raises questions about Pakistan’s fragile democracy as no prime minister has completed a full term in power since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Sharif should be disqualified after an investigative panel alleged his family could not account for its vast wealth.
“He is no more eligible to be an honest member of the parliament, and he ceases to be holding the office of prime minister,” Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court.