Font Choice to Make or Break Pakistani Leadership
By admin July 14, 2017

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Upon his return from exile in Saudi Arabia, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was poised to initiate an era of Pakistani politics intent on eradicating government corruption, introducing more liberal social reforms, and elevating the economic status of the struggling country. Promising to transform Pakistan into an “Asian tiger” with “zero tolerance for corruption” and placing his daughter Maryam at the forefront of female empowerment and gender equality advocacy, Sharif rebounded from initially being ineligible to run to winning the 2013 election.

Since the start of his third term that began in 2013, Sharif’s façade of honesty, transparency, and progress seems to be chipping away at rapid speed. On May 9, 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released 11 million leaked documents held by the Mossak Fonseca law firm, revealing the fraudulent financial activities of 12 current or former heads of state and more than 60 relatives and associates of said leaders. Those implicated include Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the late father of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, President Xi Jinping’s father-in-law, and three of Prime Minister Sharif’s children.

The papers identified several companies including British Virgin Islands-based Nescoll Ltd, Nielsen Enterprises Ltd, and Hangon Property Holdings Ltd as offshore enterprises and assets not listed on the Sharif family wealth statement. Allegations that these businesses were used to hide or launder illicitly obtained funds or to avoid taxes have called Sharif’s credentials into question. In April, the Pakistani Supreme Court voted three to two in favor of further investigations into money transfers, allowing Sharif to narrowly evade corruption charges and removal from office.

Prime Minister Sharif has brushed off fraud accusations as personal attacks on his family. This assertion is not too far off as the Pakistani Muslim League party has come under fire for their inclusion of Maryam Sharif in the political inner circle. Her equality advocacy and focus on highlighting the role of women rubbed conservative parties the wrong way. However, her rising political star may no longer be an issue as the so-called “next Benazir Bhutto” could be responsible for the crumbling of her father’s administration.

This week, the Joint Investigations Team set up by the court reported possible forgery on financial documents. The internet is calling the scandal “Fontgate” as Maryam’s 2006 disclosure of her ties to a British Virgin Islands firm was written in Calibri font, a typeface only publically available in 2007. The first public beta version of the font was released in June 2006, still four months after Maryam supposedly signed the papers.

Pakistani political parties are now calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister and the dissolution of the standing administration. Analysts are expecting Nawaz Sharif to hand in his resignation some time over the next ten days, and sadly this is likely the end of Maryam Nawaz’s political career.


Further Reading:

Profile: Nawaz Sharif

Panama Papers Q&A: What is the scandal about?

Panama Papers: Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to face investigators

Pakistani corruption case hinges on a font

Calibri, Nawaz Sharif and Fontgate

Pakistan PM’s daughter, heir apparent in corruption probe crosshairs


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