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Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif fights to save his political future

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was fighting for his political future on Tuesday after judicial investigators ruled his family had accumulated unusual wealth, with his allies denouncing the findings and vowing he would clear his name.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT), set up by the Supreme Court to investigate corruption allegations that surfaced following the Panama Papers leak, spent two months looking into the family’s wealth and gave its finding to the court on Monday.

In their report, which has been leaked to media, the team alleges Sharif’s family accumulated wealth far above its earnings, and says his children, including heir-apparent Maryam Sharif, signed falsified documents designed to mask the truth.

Opposition leader Imran Khan said Sharif had “lost all moral authority” and must resign immediately.

But Sharif’s allies dismissed all the allegations against him and the report.

“It’s trash,” said Defence Minister Asif Khawaja, adding that the report was “full of flaws”.

Sharif, the son of an industrialist, has denied wrongdoing and said his family’s wealth was acquired legally.

In April, the Supreme Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif from office – by a split 2-3 verdict – but it ordered further investigations, which the JIT was set up to carry out.

Sharif’s daughter Maryam was not available for comment but she also dismissed the report in a post on Twitter.

“JIT report REJECTED. Every contradiction will not only be contested but decimated in SC,” she wrote, referring to the Supreme Court.

The investigation has spooked investors in Pakistan’s equity market, with the benchmark index in retreat since June over fears Sharif’s removal would plunge Pakistan back into chaos after years of relative stability.

The index opened sharply lower on Tuesday and fell 4.65 percent by the close to end at 44,120.58.

“After this JIT report, the prime minister’s position has weakened and becomes unpredictable. He may have to leave,” Talat Masood, a political analyst, told Reuters.

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