What happens now Pakistan’s PM has been disqualified?

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been ousted from power by the Supreme Court, an unceremonious end to his third term in power ahead of general elections next year.

No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term.

Most have seen their tenures cut short by the powerful military or by the Supreme Court. Others have been ousted by their own party, forced to resign — or been assassinated.

What happens now Sharif has been disqualified?

Although Sharif has been disqualified as prime minister, he remains the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the largest party in the National Assembly.

As such, Sharif will oversee the nomination of his successor who will then be rubber stamped in a parliamentary vote, where his party and coalition partners command a 209-seat majority in the 342-seat house.

The opposition is also expected to field a candidate for the premiership, though the nominee has almost no chance of getting sufficient votes.

The vote will likely happen in a matter of days — if not hours — of Sharif’s disqualification.

Is there any precedent for this?

Yes, 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.

After Gilani was ousted by the Supreme Court, President Zardari, the then-head of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, led the negotiations to find a consensus candidate for the premiership.

Following three days of intense horse-trading within the fractious coalition government, PPP-loyalist Raja Pervaiz Ashraf — a controversial choice also marred by corruption allegations — was eventually elected prime minister by the National Assembly.

Could the court’s decision be challenged?

In theory, yes — but it is highly unlikely.

Sharif’s legal team could file a review petition but only on very limited grounds, such as a mistake in the judgement.

“The Supreme Court is the interpreter and final arbiter of…

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