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Arif Rafiq: Pakistan faces uncertainty as Sharif again gets ousted

Country's hybrid democracy threatened by teetering economy, regional conflicts

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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 in the Pakistani constitution that require holders of public office to be "honest" and "trustworthy."

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