Maryam Nawaz keeps forgetting one basic fact, that truth has no substitute.
She had started off well though, you must admit. The only blue-eyed among her siblings, her father began preparing her to carry his legacy forward when he was apparently an opposition leader and Zardari ruled the country. Back then many amongst us had welcomed his daughter’s political appearances, considering it a fresh change that might help empowering women around the country.
She often admits with pride how she gave herself a rebirth after Musharraf’s “dark” era ended. It isn’t wrong either. From exercising her right to look more elegant to hiring PR consultants to building a social media task force, our First Daughter has come a long way to prove herself as a worthy heiress. Being an heiress was her only achievement the nation was familiar with then.
But despite of all her glamour, Pakistani people eventually stopped buying her persona. And the reason, ladies and gentlemen, was simple. While climbing political ladder, Maryam keeps forgetting that no PR campaigns can earn a political leader the amount of respect that the “truth” does.
Her biggest public mistake was making a live phone call into one of anchor Sana Bucha's talk show with emphasis on denying the ownership of any property in her or her siblings’ names. Sadly, years later, when Panama Papers – world’s largest data leaks- surfaced, and her beneficial ownership of expensive London flats was proven, this public lie nullified Maryam’s remaining credibility and, alas, her political future. Since then people of Pakistan have been asking her clan one simple question: Just show us some money trail of how you bought this property! But the family didn’t pay any heed. After failing to provide with any documentary proof of their source of income at multiple forums like Parliament, National television, and the Supreme Court, the family is being summoned one by one in front of a Joint Investigation Team to seek answers.To combat the Imran Khan factor and accountability, sadly, Maryam’s final bet is choosing to hide behind a gender card.
Now how does this gender card work?
Well, you would be seeing how Sharif partisans in the mainstream media and Maryum's heavily funded social media cell have since been trying to instill the sympathy seeds in the hearts of public, portraying her a victimized woman being dragged into a manly court battle in a manner alien to an Islamic society. In the same breathe, they also predict how her appearance before the JIT would do “wonders for her politics” and make her into a heroine.
The legal institutions in genuine democracies of the world today do not discriminate between accused men and women. In Pakistan, a woman is not handcuffed unless she is accused of murder, but the South Korean female Premier was brought to court with handcuffs around her wrists and what were the charges on her? Same as those on Maryam! Holy Corruption! Theft of public money! But the Korean people did not let her play the gender card and saw to her political end.
On the other hand, Maryam believes people of Pakistan aren’t that smart. For months she has been preparing for this. She knows it, doesn’t she? The writing on the wall that says her father is a sinking Titanic who is going down anyways. Why not use this opportunity for her political point-scoring then? Sadly, Maryum is scripting her deposition in a fairytale manner. She has made her proxies in media build a narrative that helps her hide behind the gender card and evoke public sympathy. Her idea is to enter the investigation building among applause and favourable chanting, surrounded by supporters, waving her hand towards the mammoth crowd, and holding a symbolic battle flag in her hand. And there she would go as a victimized woman, alone, in the den of glaring carnivores of JIT. It’s a tragic portrayal that she believes will soften hearts and water eyes. The next day, newspapers around the world would be printing her full-sized waving photographs, announcing her as South Asia’s next female leader.
Sorry Maryam, but it’s time to wake up! The people of Pakistan are aware and simply bored of fairytales now. Since you are forgetting the basic principle on which this world works. That the truth, my lady, has no substitute!
Why do I believe the public would not buy her “innocent woman being dragged unfairly into a political arena” narrative?
Fact is, this isn’t the first time they would be seeing Maryum entering an arena. She has had many chances to emerge as a leader and tragically, she lost all of them. People have previously witnessed her academic adventures and were truly disappointed with the fake PhD story. She could not demonstrate even one talent or ability that makes her worthy of leading a political party in future, tried the“philanthropic arena”. She would select one patient, usually a minor, get him treated and tweet the photos. But the aware masses could sift through fake photo-ops and demanded as to why she did not work towards fixing the entire health system to ensure healthcare for all? Why was she removing water bucket by bucket from a well with the dead dog still lying inside?
She also tried the political arena. By distributing buses among school girls she made an effort to emerge as a leader, but the problem with Pakistani people is that they are smarter than this. They instead started questioning the betterment of the whole educational system and so her efforts flopped.
These dropped catches and misfielding did not do wonders for her politics, but if there was one occasion that could actually be translated into a political advantage, it was her visit to the White House a couple of years ago. There she had to represent the true face of Pakistani women and vocalize their issues as the world watched. But what on Earth actually happened?
Standing beside one of the strongest political wives Michelle Obama, our First Daughter when called to make a speech, read from her notes, head bent, lashes down, looked too nervous to make a strong point and too awe-struck to vocalize the real issues. It disappointed all those Pakistani daughters who, despite of political differences, expected her to bring home something promising and not the tweets of White House’s ten dollar worth gifts!
Like always, she again missed the point that if faux political showdowns and lies could do wonder for your politics, they would have done so for country’s biggest grifter and con man, Asif Zardari who, despite of all his image consultancy and PR campaigns, is no more relevant to the present local political scenario.
One of the other reasons why Pakistanis do not take the Premier’s daughter seriously anymore is her infamous Twitter account. Her load-shedding claims and their mockery by the Twitterati aside, people disapprove of how she would quote dialogues from a medical thriller (“After the storm passes...”) to use on sensitive occasions like the change of Command of the armed and judicial forces. And of course, the horn-locking situation with the Pulitzer winning German journalists and then getting schooled by them on corruption issues was absolutely embarrassing.
Now she is making the same blunder again. Instead of depending upon her intellect and inner strength to fight the odds, she is hiding behind the gender screen, only making the masses more disappointed in her. Though as a woman I appreciate her sensitivity towards female discrimination, but my Pakistanis ask angrily where she had been when Benazir Bhutto and her mother were brutally character assassinated right under the direct orders of her clan? When Jemima was attacked and made to leave the country with her young sons? When Khuwaja Asif verbally abused women on the Floor of the House? When Murad Saeed's angelic sisters were maligned on national television right under her nose? And my people ask why she did not stand up to her father when he gave misogynistic remarks about the women attending PTI jalsas? And the Land of Pure asks her everyday silently why she remained quiet when mothers and daughters were brutally slaughtered in Model Town by her clan’s police?
I wonder why the pseudo-intellectuals serving as Maryam’sproxies in the media turn a blind eye towards women being mistreated in our police stations, courts and jails? Maryam won’t have to go through any of the physical or emotional torture a normal accused woman goes through in Pakistan, fortunately. And unlike the families of her father’s political opponents, Maryam won’t have to face personal attacks in front of the JIT either.
If there’s someone responsible for her being summoned in front of a JIT, it is but her father who used his daughter as a front person to hide his black money so he could innocently claim that he had nothing to do with the Panama Papers. But it was consensual, wasn’t it? Maryam was an accomplice and as much guilty as her father, which is why she has to face the music and answer for her actions. And if she isn’t guilty, she must face the enquiry like a strong woman. Evoking pity and sympathy only makes a woman look weaker and fragile.
If it has to come to gender card, people wonder what example did Maryam set as a mother for her children and grandchildren by blatantly lying on the television? A mother needs to show more responsibility because she inspires generations to come and it is sad to see how she failed to meet the moral standard of millions of Pakistani mothers out there.
People are not going to see her as the Joan of d’Arc she wants to come across as. No, Ma’am! On the 5th of July, they would see her as a rich woman, surrounded by crowd of her paid employees and courtiers, wearing 750 million worth jewelry bought from taxpayer’s money, coming out of her luxurious car with the “catch me if you can” smirk, and going in to face officers who are direct under her father’s command. And it would make people more furious since the wealth she is adorned with is the very wealth they want the accountability for.
Maryam keeps forgetting that PR campaigns cannot do wonders for your politics. You can buy fashion but not style. Buy wands but not miracles. It is not time for her to become the “lioness” but face the consequences as a dignified human being. Owning what she owns and taking responsibility for her actions is her only salvage.
The warrior queens and the female gladiators in history earned their positions with honesty and integrity. They won battles when they stood up for their people and fought for public rights. Almighty honoured their names for centuries to come. That is what a strong woman is all about. She does not hide behind her gender or look for pity. She is too dignified to do that.
It is not the political tricks but the truth and standing up for your people that makes a woman into a leader. A heroine!
And sometimes… even a hero!