Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother Shehbaz Sharif as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) has announced Punjab Chief Minister and Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother Shehbaz Sharif as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. The appointment came after a high-level PML-N meeting, the Geo News reported. Shehbaz will steer the country until the next general elections scheduled for 2018.

Earlier in the day, Nawaz Sharif resigned from the Prime Minister’s office following disqualification from the Supreme Court in the Panamagate verdict. The top court five-judge larger bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa unanimously announced the verdict. The apex court ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file a reference against the accused in an accountability court in six weeks, directing for the trial to be concluded within six months.

It is the second time in Pakistan’s 70-year history that the Supreme Court has disqualified a sitting prime minister. In 2012 then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was disqualified over contempt of court charges for refusing to reopen a corruption case against the sitting president Asif Ali Zardari. Also no Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year elected term. Most tenures have been cut short by military coups. While serving as the country’s Prime Minister in 1993, Sharif was sacked by the then-president over graft allegations, while in 1999 he was ousted in a military coup.

Panamagate Case Prime Minister of Pakistan Main Muhammad Nawaz Sharif steps down from his post after Supreme Court verdict

ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister of Pakistan Main Muhammad Nawaz Sharif stepped down from his post on Friday, hours after the country’s Supreme Court delivered a guilty verdict against him and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in connection with the Panama Papers Leaks case. Geo News quoted a PML-N spokesman, as saying that the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s order to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, required both of them to step down from their respective offices.

Announcing their verdict in the Panama Papers case, all five judges ruled to send a reference against the premier, his three children and others to an accountability court.

The court ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file a reference against the accused in an accountability court in six weeks and directed for the trial to be wrapped up within six months.

According to sources, Nawaz Sharif is chairing a meeting to decide on the appointment of a new premier. Sharif expressed sorrow over the Supreme Court’s decision, sources told Geo News. Sharif is likely to make the decision to appoint a new prime minister after consulting with legal experts, sources added. Earlier, legal aides, advisers and federal ministers were present at the PM House where Sharif heard the verdict of the Panama Papers case. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Governors of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were also present in the meeting. PML-N leaders – before the verdict’s announcement – stated that the government wants the Parliament to complete its tenure.

The ruling party put up a brave front by emphatically stating that disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s political career was far from over and predicted that he would bounce back from the adverse verdict delivered by the Supreme Court with regard to the Panama Papers Leaks case. While admitting that it was a difficult time for the PML-N and expressing awarenesss about the opposition being in celebratory mode over the verdict, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah was quoted by the Dawn, as saying, “This is a difficult time for the PML-N. But the power to make party decisions will remain with Nawaz Sharif.”

State Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb was quoted, as saying, “Nawaz does not neeed a chair, he is a reality. That day is not far, when he will be chosen for the fourth time.” Aurangzeb added: Some decisions happen in court, others in peoples courts. We may have lost one decision. which I am not surprised about but am saddened. PML-N is Pakistan’s biggest political party. It has the higest number of political workers. and history is a witness that whenever Nawaz Sharif was removed unjustly, the people of Pakistan brought him back to parliament with a greater majority. She also said that the party will announce its plan after looking at the decision in detail.

Senior lawyer Asma Jehangir said the court’s decision should be accepted, but there is room for criticism. After his decision, a lot of cracks have emerged which will keep the judiciary on its feet for a very long time,” Jehangir was quoted by Geo News. I think that Zia ul Haq and Iftikhar Chaudhry have returned. It will become difficult for others and the court…The parliament will think that the apex court has always decided against us and 184(3) powers have reached a point where anyone can be disqualified, the parliament will look to amend it. She added: “This is a unique decision. It has had a unique procedure. In courts it happens that there is a set pattern but the way this case has happened is not normal.” Friday’s decision means that this was he third time Prime Minister Sharif was unable to complete his term in office. What is currently clear is that the Election Commission of Pakistan will have to de-notify the prime minister to fulfill the technicalities of implementing the order.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who had headed the apex court’s implementation bench following its April 20 order on the Panama Papers case, announced that the larger bench had unanimously deemed Prime Minister Sharif from holding office and would also order an accountability court to open a case against him. The unanimous judgement was announced shortly after 12 p.m. local time. Justice Khan said the bench had recommended that all material collected by the joint investigation team (JIT) tasked with probing the Sharif family’s financial dealings would be sent to an accountability court within six weeks. The bench said that on the basis of this information, cases would be opened against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar; MNA Captain Muhammad Safdar; Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz; as well as Prime Minister Sharif.

A judgement on these references should be announced within 30 days, he said.

One judge will oversee the implementation of this order. The prime minister was disqualified from holding his office as the judges ruled that he had been dishonest to parliament and the courts and could not be deemed fit for his office. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar, who is an MNA, also stood disqualified from office, Justice Khan said. From Friday morning, all eyes were on Courtroom No. 1 of the Supreme Court in Islamabad, where a five-judge bench was set to announce the much-awaited verdict on the Panama Papers case at 11:30am. The proceedings started around half an hour later.

The original five-member bench of the Supreme Court which heard the Panama Papers case issued the final verdict. Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Ejaz Afzal Khan, Gulzar Ahmed, Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Ijazul Ahsan were present for the hearing.

According to media reports, the courtroom was filled to capacity as prominent politicians, lawyers and journalists crowded the room to hear the judges decide Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s fate. The twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi had been on high alert in anticipation of the verdict. The Red Zone had also been partially sealed and people were only being allowed inside after undergoing identification and strict security checks. Over the last few days, Pakistan’s citizens had been awaiting the apex court’s verdict with bated breath. Gossip, speculation and rumours had been rife over when the final verdict would be announced and what conclusion the judges would arrive at. The most important question of all remained whether the prime minister would be unseated or not.

On Thursday evening, the Supreme Court office had put all speculation to rest when it issued a supplementary cause list heralding the announcement of the judgement on Friday. On the announcement that the larger bench would deliver the judgement, legal observers took the view that the earlier minority judgement, which recommended sending the prime minister packing, may become a majority view in case even one of the three majority judges ruled against the prime minister.

SC disapproves medical certificates submitted by Dr Asim Hussain

The Supreme Court on Thursday, while hearing a petition seeking exclusion of PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain’s name from the exit control list (ECL), expressed its dissatisfaction over the medical certificates submitted before the apex court regarding Dr Hussain’s health.

Commenting on the matter, Justice Aijaz Afzal said, “Nine medical boards were formed to examine Dr Asim Hussain’s health and every board has suggested a different illness.”

On this, the counsel for Dr Hussain, Barrister Latif Khosa, said that the former minister was suffering from a spinal problem which was apparently incurable in Pakistan. He further argued that other suspects of the case have already been allowed to travel abroad.

The court sought a reply from the interior ministry regarding the case. “We want to see whether the law is being properly followed or not while putting a person’s name on the ECL,” the apex court observed.

PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain, a close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari, had filed a petition in the apex court asking for the removal of his name from the ECL so that he may travel abroad for medical treatment.

The petition stated that Hussain was fighting “a number of health conditions” and highlighted the ‘urgency’ with which he needed medical care.

The former minister has reportedly been undergoing treatment for a cardiovascular ailment.

The petition, filed by Dr Hussain’s counsel, also pointed out that the PPP leader has already been granted bail by the Sindh High Court (SHC) and anti-terrorism courts.

During an earlier hearing in SHC, Dr Hussain’s counsel had told the bench that his client “may lose his life if he did not undergo a spinal surgery abroad”.

In March, the SHC had granted bail to the PPP leader in two corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

On the same day, an anti-terrorism court issued a release order for the former federal minister in a case relating to the alleged treatment of terrorists at Ziauddin Hospital, where the accused is the deputy managing director.

NAB had been pursuing Dr Hussain on charges that the former petroleum minister deprived the state exchequer of Rs462.5bn between 2010 and 2013 — Rs450bn through a fertiliser scam, Rs9.5bn through land fraud and Rs3bn through money laundering.

Dr Hussain was eventually released from prison on March 31 after 19 months in detention.

He had filed a request at the SHC for the removal of his name from the ECL. However, the plea was rejected on June 5.

Nielsen tries to quantify the Hulu, YouTube effect

Nielsen, the ratings service, announced Tuesday that it will begin to tabulate how many people get their live TV from Hulu and YouTube, an effort to provide a more accurate picture of how many people now watch broadcast networks by streaming them, rather than watching them on traditional TV.

Hulu and YouTube have not revealed how many people have subscribed for the live TV services that they launched in the spring as a counter to cable TV.

Subscribers can stream channels live on laptops, smartphones and elsewhere. They can also record shows digitally or watch them on demand. Both services cost nearly $40 a month.

Media companies base the amount they charge advertisers on the number of people who are watching at a particular time, and want to insure that online viewers are also counted as more people shift to using online streaming services.

IMF to launch new form of aid—with no money

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Wednesday it will launch a new tool to support governments in financial trouble — but one that involves no money — formalising a step it took last week for Greece.

Instead of providing cheap loans to member countries, the new IMF tool will serve as a good housekeeping seal of approval for a government’s reform program.

With that approval in hand governments would be more likely to be able to access other forms of financing from banks and bond markets, the IMF said in a statement.

“The new instrument is designed to help countries unlock financing from official and private donors and creditors,” the IMF said.

“It enables them to signal commitment to reforms and catalyse financing from other sources.” The IMF last week revived a rarely-used mechanism under which it approved a one-year loan to Greece but withheld the disbursement of funds until the country receives significant debt relief from its eurozone partners.

That had a similar effect as the new tool: allowing Greece to return to markets this week to issue three billion euros ($3.5bn) worth of five-year bonds, and removing a major roadblock in the negotiations with the euro area.

The IMF board this month approved the new non-financing Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI), which unlike traditional fund programs will not have any eligibility criteria, as long as the country is not delinquent in payments to the IMF.

Rather than providing loans in exchange for strict adherence to an agreed program of economic and financial reforms — with performance targets reviewed quarterly — the IMF will focus only on the government’s policy package.

But the IMF stressed that “policies supported under the instrument would be required to meet the same standard as those required under a standard IMF loan.” Fund staff would provide periodic reviews under the PCI, every six months or so, but the schedule would be flexible as would the duration of the program.

The IMF has always provided policy advice to member countries on a variety of topics including design of reforms for tax, pension or labor policies.

It also offers a program called a Flexible Credit Line which is similar to the PCI in that it provides an IMF stamp of approval on a country’s economic policies, but also makes available a line of credit that would only be tapped if the country faces dire circumstances beyond its control, like a severe drop in commodity prices or a global financial crisis.

Some economists have expressed concern, however, about the potential stigma associated with a country that goes to the IMF for financial assistance.