A leading Pakistani newspaper on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to “do the right thing (in) democracy and step aside, at least temporarily” in view of the corruption charges he faces. The Dawn admitted in an editorial that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report submitted to the Supreme Court on the Sharif family’s assets held abroad as revealed by the Panama Papers was not a perfect document.
“But the JIT report has laid out a number of very serious and specific allegations against Prime Minister Sharif and his children. Simply, no democratic order ought to have a Prime Minister operating under such a dark cloud of suspicion,”the editorial said.
It said the ruling PML-N party may urge Sharif to stay on in office and Sharif may be tempted to do so, “but the toll on democracy would be too great. The Prime Minister has a clear alternative: step aside, fight whatever charges are brought against him or his children in court and, if he is eventually cleared of the charges, he can seek a return to office as the law permits.”
The Dawn admitted that stepping aside now would not be an admission of guilt. But Pakistan “does not need and cannot afford the distraction of an incumbent Prime Minister fighting corruption charges in the courts”. The editorial found fault with the Sharif family in not going the extra mile to provide evidence and explanations to the satisfaction of the investigators. “Sharif may have his doubts about the fairness of the system, but the system has doubts about him. The system must prevail over the personal.”