[현지기고] 파키스탄 나와즈 샤리프 총리, 세번의 취임과 세번의 낙마

나와즈 샤리프 전 파키스탄 총리 <사진=신화사/뉴시스>

[아시아엔=나시르 아이자즈 <아시아엔> 파키스탄 지사장] 파키스탄 대법원이 현지시각 28일, 부패 혐의를 받고 있는 나와즈 샤리프의 총리직은 물론 남은 생 동안 공직에 오를 수 있는 자격도 박탈했다. 세차례 총리직을 역임한 나와즈 샤리프는 마지막 임기마저 마치지 못한 채 공직에서 물러나게 됐다. 대법원은 또한 국가 부패방지기구에 철강 산업에서 막대한 영향력을 행사하고 있는 샤리프 일가의 범법행위 및 부정부패를 철저히 조사할 것을 요청했다.

이 칼바람은 이샤크 다르 재무장관에도 미쳤다. 그는 샤리프의 최측근이자 친척으로 지난 10년간 파키스탄의 역대급 경제성장을 이끌어 왔으나 임기를 채우지 못하고 낙마했다. 스캔들 이전까지 샤리프는5년 임기를 마치고 나오는 최초의 파키스탄 총리가 될 것으로 기대를 모았으나, 파키스탄 정치판은 새로운 국면을 맞이하게 됐다.

이에 따른 파키스탄 현지 반응은 극명하게 나뉜다. 판결이 발표된 수도 이슬라마바드는 축제분위기다. 시민들은 삼삼오오 거리로 모여 법원의 결정을 축하하며 찬가를 불렀다. 반면 샤리프의 정치적 기반인 펀잡 주의 수도 라호르와 일부 도시에선 이에 항의하는 시위대들이 거리를 점령했다.

파키스탄 대법원의 이번 판결은 2016년 전세계를 뒤흔든 일명 ‘파나마 페이퍼스’ 폭로가 시발점이었다. 샤리프의 네명의 자녀 중 딸 마리얌과 두 아들이 연루됐기 때문이다. 샤리프 일가는 지나치게 사치스러운 생활을 영위하는 한편 런던의 고가의 부동산도 보유하고 있었다. 이 스캔들의 핵심은 샤리프 일가가 런던 고급 부동산을 구매하는데 사용한 자금의 적합성이었다.

이에 대해 샤리프 일가와 파키스탄 무슬림 연맹은 국내와 걸프지역의 사업을 통해 합법적으로 재산을 취득해 문제가 없다고 주장해 왔다. 그러나 민간인과 군부로 구성된 조사단은 이달 초 “총리 일가족이 공개한 소득원과 실제 소득 사이에 확연한 불일치가 있다”고 대법원에 보고하면서 사태가 급변했다. 또한 샤리프 일가가 제출한 런던 소유 부동산 문서의 발행년도는 2006년이었으나, 이 문서에 사용된 폰트가 2007년 상용화 됐다는 사실이 밝혀지면서 문서 자체가 위조임이 드러나기도 했다.

독재자 지아 울 하크에 의해 발탁된 나와즈 샤리프는 1977년 줄피카르 알리 부토 총리의 민주 정권이 전복된 이후 정치판에 뛰어들었다. 샤리프는 1988년 그의 정당이 펀잡 주 선거를 휩쓸면서 주지사 자리에 올랐고, 정치적 기반을 닦았다. 샤리프는 지금까지 세차례 총리직에 올랐으나, 임기를 채운 적은 단 한번도 없었다. 1993년엔 부패혐의, 1999년에는 군부 쿠데타로 물러났으나 다시금 총리 자리를 거머쥐었다. 산전수전 다 겪은 샤리프는 이번에도 그를 둘러싼 모든 부정부패 혐의들이 편향되고 불확실하단 이유로 부인해왔다. 그러나 대법원의 판결로 정치인생의 막을 내리게 됐다.

현재 나와즈 샤리프가 이끌던 파키스탄 무슬림연맹은 확실한 후계자가 없는 카오스 상태다. 샤리프의 딸 마리얌은 잠재적 후계자로 여겨졌으나, 그녀는 공직에 올라 있지 않다. 샤리프의 형제 샤바즈 샤리프는 펀잡 주 주지사를 맡고 있으나, 중앙 정치와는 다소 거리가 있다. 반면 정의운동당을 이끌고 있는 크리켓 스타 출신의 임란 칸은 반 샤리프 세력의 선두주자로 떠올랐다. 파키스탄에서 군부가 여전히 막대한 영향력을 발휘한다는 점을 감안했을 때, 이번 샤리프 면직으로 군부와 민간 정부의 ‘불안한 동거’가 시작될 것으로 전망된다.

Pakistan’s apex Court ousts country’s premier over corruption claims
by Nasir Aijaz

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for life from holding any public office over long-running corruption allegations, a decision that ousts him from the premiership for the third time.

Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, one of the several factions of Muslim League linked to premier Nawaz’s name, which has a majority in parliament, is expected to name a new prime minister to hold office until elections due next year.

The court also dismissed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, one of Sharif’s closest allies and a relative, who had been claiming steering the country’s economy to its fastest pace of growth in a decade.

The apex court’s verdict plunged the country into fresh political turmoil roughly one year before scheduled general elections which would have seen Sharif become the first Pakistani prime minister to complete a full five-year term.

As the verdict was announced in Islamabad opposition supporters rushed into the street chanting slogans and handing out sweets in celebration.

However, in Lahore, capital of Sharif’s power base Punjab province, sporadic protests broke out, with his supporters burning tyres at the roads and blocking streets. Similar reports were received from some other towns of Punjab province.

The allegations stem from the Panama Papers leak last year, and the lavish lifestyles and luxury London property portfolio of the Sharif dynasty.

“He is disqualified as a member of the parliament so he has ceased to be holding the office of Prime Minister,” Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan told the packed courtroom in Islamabad, country’s capital.

The court also asked the National Accountability Bureau, an anti-corruption body, to launch a further probe into the allegations against Sharif and his family, which could see criminal charges brought against the powerful Sharif dynasty known for their steel industry.

Nawaz Sharif, affected by nationalization programme of country’s first elected Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was chosen by Dictator Gen. Zia to join politics after overthrowing Bhutto’s civilian government in 1977. Sharif was made finance minister of Punjab province. In 1988, his party swept polls in Punjab and he became the Chief Minister.

By the afternoon, Nawaz Sharif relinquished the office and left the Prime Minister’s House. His entire cabinet also stands dissolved after the court ruling. His party however claimed Nawaz Sharif has stepped down from the premiership to honour the court verdict.

The opposition parties including Pakistan Peoples’ Party, headed by Bilawal Bhutto, the son of slain leader Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Justice Movement) led by former cricket captain Imran Khan and others had been insisting Nawaz Sharif to resign before the court verdict but he refused denying the allegations.

Sharif, 67, had always denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the investigation as biased and inaccurate. He had termed the accountability as ‘revenge’ by the opponents.

The Sharif family and even their political allies have consistently and noisily rejected the corruption claims against them.

“Not a single penny of corruption has been proved in this decision against Nawaz Sharif and the people of Pakistan also know it,” information minister Maryam Aurangzeb told reporters after the decision.

The party currently has no clear successor in place. Sharif’s daughter Maryam is his presumptive political heir but does not hold public office, while his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the current chief minister of Punjab province, holds only a provincial seat.

The push against Sharif has been spearheaded by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party.

The controversy erupted last year with the publication of 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca documenting the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful.

Three of Sharif’s four children – Maryam, daughter, and his sons Hasan and Hussein — were implicated in the papers.

At the heart of the case is the legitimacy of the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies.

The PML-N insists the wealth was acquired legally, through Sharif family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.

The Supreme Court had in April declared there was “insufficient evidence” to oust Sharif over the allegations, and ordered an investigation.

That enquiry by a team of civilian and military investigators found there was a “significant disparity” between the Sharif family’s income and lifestyle in its report, which was submitted to the Supreme Court earlier this month.

The findings sparked an uproar, including the claim that documents regarding Sharif’s daughter and her link to some of the family’s London properties were “falsified” — dated 2006, but typed in Microsoft’s Calibri font, which was not released for commercial use until 2007.

Bribery and other forms of graft are endemic in Pakistan, with the country coming in 116th place out of 176 countries ranked according to corruption levels by Transparency International in 2017.

Sharif has been ousted by graft allegations once before, when he was sacked by the country’s then-president during his first term as prime minister in 1993. He was removed from office in his second term by a military coup in 1999.

Other premiers have also seen their tenures cut short by the powerful military or interference from the Supreme Court, while some have been ousted by their own party, forced to resign — or been assassinated.

Sharif’s ousting comes as the civilian government appears to have reached an uneasy detente with the military, which has ruled Pakistan for half of its existence.

Leave a Reply