Pakistani media on Friday gave a mixed reaction to the Supreme Court's verdict on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's high-profile graft case with some calling it just a momentary relief while others contemplating its moral impact on the embattled premier.
The Supreme Court issued a split ruling calling for a joint investigation team of anti-corruption officials along with the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence to probe the claims.
"A thorough investigation is required", Justice Asif Saeed Khosa told the court.
Two dissenting judges on the five-member bench were of the opinion that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had not been honest to the nation and that he should have been disqualified.
The case centres on the so-called Panama Papers that were published a year ago, which referred to over 11 million secret documents of numerous world's rich and powerful from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Khan said the court has rejected the defence of Sharif and his family that their properties in London were bought with clean money.
The prime minister's party, the Pakistan Muslim League, hailed the decision as a victory and his daughter Maryam tweeted: "Praise and glory be to Allah alone".
"Whether the court convicts him or not today it spells trouble and the prime minister will be weakened", added Herald newspaper editor Badar Alam. Is it the judiciary's desire to use these institutions as a barrier against being perceived as "pro-Sharif"? The ruling further stated that the country's anti-corruption organisation, the National Accountability Bureau, has failed in performing its duties and that's why the court wants a joint investigation team to be set up.
Salman Akram Raja, a lawyer for Sharif's family, said the ruling was vindication for the government, which had said it supported an independent investigation of the allegations.
If the Supreme Court announces punitive measures against Sharif or his family members as part of the decision, it may lead to a crisis in government.
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Nawaz Sharif managed to avert the ignominy of being forced out for a third time as PM without completing his term.
Khan's party has indicated that it would not launch a new street protests if it was disappointed by the judgement. While the opposition parties are vying for Nawaz's head, the Prime Minister's supporters have been rallying behind him.
► Sharif had served as the Prime Minister for the first time from 1990 to 1993.
Thursday's decision will be the outcome of petitions from opposition lawmakers dating back to documents leaked in 2016 from a Panama-based law firm that indicated Sharif's sons owned several offshore companies.
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