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Opinion

Sharif ouster brings fresh uncertainty to Pakistan

As elections near, military returns to kingmaker role

| Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan
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A supporter of Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif passes out after the Supreme Court's decision to disqualify Sharif.   © Reuters

Pakistan's three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been removed from office for a fourth time -- a fate all too common for civilian leaders in a country that has been ruled by the military for almost half of its 70-year existence.

Sharif was evicted from office on July 26 -- not by soldiers in khaki uniforms but by judges in black robes. After a lengthy investigation, triggered by disclosures of the offshore accounts of Sharif's children in the Panama Papers, a mass of legal documents leaked on the internet last year, the Supreme Court disqualified him from office on the basis of obscure clauses of the Pakistani constitution that requires holders of public office to be "honest" and "trustworthy." The former prime minister's offense: failing to declare income, albeit uncollected, from his chairmanship of a company used as a vehicle to obtain residency in the United Arab Emirates.

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