For those tuning in late, last week Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified Sharif over charges that he had failed to report income from a family-owned firm in the United Arab Emirates in an election filing. According to an obscure provision of the constitution based on Islamic theology, Sharif was deemed as not “sadiq” (truthful) and “ameen” (trustworthy). The historian Farzana Shaikh says such vaguely worded Islamic provisions allow non-elected leaders “to mould the political system in line with their own preferences.”

The investigation that unearthed Sharif’s oversight stems from last year’s Panama Papers revelations, that focused on Mossack Fonseca, a shadowy law firm that caters to some of the world’s ultra-wealthy.

In short, in most of South Asia, they leave it to voters — not to generals or judges — to turf out unpopular or irresponsible leaders. Pakistan’s inability to grasp this principle places it in the company of the troubled Middle Eastern countries to its west, rather than with the often struggling but nonetheless hopeful democracies to its east.

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