ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — After months legal wrangling and political melodrama, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled narrowly Thursday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could keep his job but ordered further investigation into corruption allegations.
In a 3-2 decision, the majority on the court found there was not enough evidence of corruption or financial crimes to remove Sharif from office over claims that he and his family had hidden property and assets through offshore tax havens.
But all five magistrates raised questions about where the source of the money used to buy four posh apartments in London that are at the heart of the case.
Sharif and his supporters greeted the news of his narrow reprieve with unabashed joy and relief.
His daughter Maryam, who faces scrutiny over her financial role in the ownership of the London properties, tweeted photos of the family and political associates hugging and smiling.
The sharply worded, 540-page ruling fell short of the bombshell Sharif’s opponents had hoped for, allowing him to remain in office while his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, competes in general elections next year.
But it left the ailing, 67-year-old prime minister politically diminished, and the Muslim League vulnerable at the polls. With the odor of alleged shoddy financial practices in the air, Sharif’s party becomes a perfect target for a hodgepodge of electoral opponents — from secular activists to religious groups — who have sought to portray Sharif and the dynastic political elite as corrupt and insular.