Maryam Nimaz' arrest

Political woes for Sharif family of Pakistan continue with Maryam Nawaz’s arrest on the graft charges. Maryam Nawaz’s arrest came during her visit to her incarcerated father and former prime minister of Pakistan in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. According to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Maryam and her paternal cousin Yousaf Abbas Sharif were taken into custody. They are accused of their involvement in money laundering in Chaudhry Sugar Mills.

Pakistan has witnessed an intense drive against corruption following the Elections 2018 which brought into power the cricketer-turned-politician, Imran Khan, for this first time. Even before Khan’s ascendance to the political stage where he holds all the authority to initiate such a drive, the country had seen a sudden change with Nawaz Sharif’s ouster. For three decades, minus his exile period, Sharif family has been at the helm of affairs in the country’s politics. Three-time prime-minister, Nawaz saw many political ups and downs throughout his career. However, he always ran short of completing his five-year term.

Ironically, each time Nawaz Sharif’s prime ministerial chair was dragged by a different antagonist. In 1993, his political rival Benazir Bhutto checkmated him in a tit-for-tat move, as he had done the same with her earlier in 1990. Later, in 1999, he was removed by the existing army chief, Pervez Musharraf, with whom he had the temerity to tinker with. However, the most ominous of his step downs, was that of 2017, when he was removed from office following his disqualification from the Supreme Court. The Apex Court of the country found him guilty of money laundering and the assets beyond means.

Like father like daughter, Maryam Nawaz has been ambitiously pursuing a career of her father. Obviously, it is naturally her birthright by all oriental standards to succeed her father as the next prime minister. She had been acting as a party boss since her father’s arrest, at the expense of many of the senior leaders of her father’s party. Perhaps because Maryam is the daughter of a highly capable father, who had found always himself more qualified than any other member of the party, to become PM after winning elections each time. However, Maryam Nawaz’s arrest, in a society like Pakistan, is fairly a bigger political event than the resignation or even arrest of a pm of any established country.

Earlier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar had alleged that Chaudhry Sugar Mill, which is owned by Sharif family, was used by the family for money laundering. And millions of rupees were obtained as subsidies without ever actually exporting sugar.

In 2008, Sugar Mill’s shares were transferred to Maryam’s account, which three years later she transferred into her cousin’s account.

Pakistan, thanks to an independent judiciary, has been witnessing zero-tolerance regarding corruption since few years. But many opponents see it as the typical way of revengeful disposition of governments in Pakistan. However, what is different from the past decades is that for the first time in 2017, a sitting prime minister had to resign following a judicial verdict. The move followed similar convictions of top politicians since then, and the recent convictions have sent another former prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former president Asif Zardari to jail. Also, the perpetual chief minister of Punjab and the brother of Nawaz Sharif is also behind bars, except for times when he is not attending parliament sessions.

Maryam Nawaz’s arrest is part of the political development in a third-world democracy, where corruption and nepotism overshadow the economic and political progress of the country. Although political victimization is one frequent outcry, the arrests of political demi-gods in a developing country suggest one shining aspect of democracy: rule of law.

Related: Revocation of Article 370: Indian Move Draws Backlash in Pakistan