Game over: Pak media talks of 'a new era' post-Nawaz
In an event which will continue to rock Pakistan over the coming few months, the political career of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has come to a grinding halt.
In its historic ruling, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on 28 July ordered the removal of 68-year-old Sharif from office over accusations of corruption. This came after a probe that had looked into his family's finances after the 2015 Panama Papers disclosed dealings with several offshore companies.
"Following the verdict, Nawaz Sharif has resigned from his responsibilities as prime minister," a spokesman for Sharif's office said in a statement. His resignation comes a whole year before his term - his third stint as prime minister - was to end.
This brings an end to 15 months of extreme political drama that has been watched keenly by the military - which has usually played its hand in changes in the civilian leadership. In fact, Sharif, Pakistan's 18th prime minister, joins all 17 of his predecessors in not being able to complete a full term in office.
Most have had their tenures cut short by the military or by the Supreme Court. Others have been ousted by their own party - or been assassinated.
But this is the first time that a font - Calibri - spelled the the end for a premier.
Now, the governing party - the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), needs to choose an interim prime minister until the general election in mid-2018.
With the disqualification, Sharif cannot hold any parliamentary position, lead his party or become involved in election campaigns. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has also been disqualified. Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz, who was touted to be his successor, will also not be allowed to contest elections.
In Pakistan, the media is a busy lot and pieces are being churned out with great alacrity. Here's a taste of the reports from the day:
In an editorial printed on the morning of the verdict, the daily Dawn says that no matter the verdict, "the Panama Papers case may be the beginning of a new era of public disclosure and accountability".
"The political class itself must introspect after this episode. While robust political competition is important to democracy, the PML-N and PTI have allowed their rivalry to drag the country backwards. The spectre of the 1990s has returned and there is a possibility that between the determination of the Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N to remain in power come what may and that of the Imran Khan-led PTI to ascend to power no matter what, the democratic project itself may unravel," it says.
The Express Tribune
In its editorial addressing the endemic problem of corruption within the state machinery, the newspaper writes: "The Panama Papers have released a veritable Pandora’s box of troubles for both individuals and the institutions of state. Those involved are not the minnows; they are the big fish, the men of power and influence. Their willingness to lie and cheat and try to evade detection and culpability fits with the culture of impunity that they themselves have fostered for decades."
It underlines: "Pakistan in the future may find much to thank the Panama Papers for, not least dragging some very dishonest people into the light."
The News International
Writing about how a "wounded Nawaz" could be "more dangerous", Mayed Ali says the verdict "might usher in a new era of effective politicking on his behalf if he played the ball in an intelligent manner with courage"
According to Ali, "He [Nawaz] can translate this apparent setback into a huge success in the next elections through his leadership skills from outside. He will become a hero from zero in that scenario."
After the verdict, Geo News put up a story in which political analysts break down the situation.
According to senior journalist Hamid Mir, this is not the end for Sharif. “Nawaz Sharif will continue to decide on all political and party matters,” Mir said. “He [Sharif] will decide who the next prime minister will be.”
On what the future holds, former governor of State Bank of Pakistan Muhammad Imtiaz Alam Hanfi believes that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had "very beautifully announced a coup against Nawaz Sharif".
In an editorial on the morning of the verdict, The Nation wrote about Nisar's press conference the day before where the politician had claimed he would resign from his position.
"After finding out that the decision was scheduled for tomorrow however, the Minister clarified that he would not be resigning this instant. Certainly, Chaudhry Nisar does not come across as a Machiavellian manipulator, but it is also undeniable that he was out-manipulated in the politics that played out in the wake of the Supreme Court hearings," it says.
"The Interior Minister, a suitable replacement for Prime Minister in case Nawaz Sharif was disqualified – especially in his own eyes – was preempted and isolated by other parties coveting the spot," it adds.
Finally, it warns of changing times and work to be done: "The following weeks will be pivotal for the PML-N. At the moment it is a party in turmoil being buffeted by winds of uncertainty."