Maryam Nawaz Vs Imran Khan
The general elections in Pakistan are due to be held on July 15 this year. In the run-up to the polls, the show of strength and war of words between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the opposition have intensified, in the recent weeks. On Saturday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan launched a vitriolic attack against the Nawaz Sharif family. Attacking the Sharif family for a picture of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the government health cards, he alleged that the Sharif family was responsible for destroying the moral values of the country's youth. "Shameful! In no democracy in the world wld [would] this be acceptable: A disqualified money launderer's face on a govt health card! Apart from using taxpayer money to protect criminals, Sharif mafia destroying moral values of our youth: As if nothing wrong with corruption/money laundering," (sic) Imran tweeted. Soon after Imran's tweet, Nawaz Sharif's daughter and his political heir Maryam Nawaz hit back at the PTI chief, stating that he was destined to complain and be afraid. "He was earlier afraid of Nawaz, but now seems to be afraid of his picture too. You are only destined to complain, be afraid, and remain distressed," Maryam slammed Imran. As per media reports, the 44-year-old Maryam will contest the upcoming elections from the NA-120 constituency in Lahore, from where her father contested and won the 2013 polls. Nawaz Sharif had to resign as the Prime Minister last year after the Supreme Court disqualified him in the Panama Papers case. He has been disqualified for life from holding any public office. Maryam began to take interest in politics since the 1999 coup by Pakistan Army chief General Parvez Musharaf, who exiled the Sharif family to Saudi Arabia. She was in the spotlight last year when a special investigative team (SIT) appointed by the Pakistan Supreme Court was investigating the former premier's family in the Panama Papers expose. Elegant and media savvy, she became an instant sensation when she claimed that the SIT did not have charges against them and was, in fact, trying to find some cases by questioning them. She famously said that this was the first SIT in the world which was set-up to find the charges that can be levelled against the Sharif family. It was she, among her siblings, who spoke to the media; and, she spoke with clarity and confidence. She came across as someone who was ready to challenge the medieval, feudal and backward mindset of the Pakistan's ruling establishment. She oozed youthful idealism with a questioning mindset. And, in doing so, she also challenged Imran Khan's star value in the arena of Pakistani politics. By becoming not too agitated by the SIT probe and its final verdict, she chose not to emulate Imran Khan's politics of street power, arrogance and disdain for the country's Parliament and judicial system. Nevertheless, she was as effective in conveying to the world that she was ready to take forward her family's legacy in Pakistan politics. "Do not cry over your defeat in the general elections this year, because empty chairs are unable to give votes," she said on Saturday's PML-N rally in Haripur, referring to the united opposition's rally in Lahore's Mall Road three days back, which was a mellowed affair compared to PML-N's massive rally. Nawaz criticized PTI's performance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. "Did you see their show three days ago? Their politics has been rejected by the people," Nawaz said. "Why defeat should not be your fate, for what you have done in the last four years," asked Maryam at the Haripur rally. Currently, Maryam Nawaz is a part of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's government as chairperson for the youth initiative. Nawaz Sharif's elder son, Hussain Nawaz, is a businessman based in Saudi Arabia. His younger son, Hassan Nawaz, is also a businessman and lives in London. His other daughter Asma Nawaz, is the daughter-in-law of the current finance minister of Pakistan Ishaq Dar. The Sharif family shares its roots with the Punjabis of Kashmiri origin, hailing from Anantnag and Pulwama in Kashmir. As per the figures available with the Election Commission of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif has a net worth of Pakistani Rupees 1.6 billion. His family has a multimillion-dollar steel conglomerate and has interests in agriculture, transport and sugar mills under the brands names of Ittefaq Group and Sharif Group. That Maryam Nawaz will contest the upcoming elections from a seat earlier represented by her father is on the expected lines. However, what is still uncertain is whether she is also ready to throw her hat in the ring for the Prime Minister's office. A generational change in Pakistan is clearly in sight.