ISLAMABAD: Maryam Nawaz has decided to resign as Chairperson of the Prime Minister Youth Loan Programme — a position she claimed to have been holding purely “as a volunteer and on an honorary basis”.
The daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took the decision on Wednesday following a Lahore High Court order which asked the federal government to replace her and devise a transparent mechanism for fresh appointment by Friday.
“The chairperson has to be changed,” Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah said on Tuesday while hearing a petition filed by Zubair Niazi, a Lahore-based Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader, against the appointment.
The judge also raised queries about a unique combination of her degrees – M.A. (English Literature) and Ph.D. in Political Science – which was presented to the court by a government lawyer in support of Maryam Nawaz’s eligibility for the position.
Since her appointment after the PML-N came to power, Ms Maryam has been facing criticism, particularly from the PTI leadership.
The PTI termed the appointment a sheer case of nepotism and often targeted her for misusing government funds for her own image-building in the name of promoting the youth development programme.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan has been accusing the prime minister of benefiting members of his family by appointing them to government positions.
In a letter released to the media after her resignation, Ms Maryam pledged to keep serving people with or without a designation. Every line of the letter spoke of her sadness on leaving a position which appeared to be dear to her heart. Having served as head of the signature programme of her father’s government, she also weaved her argument around the cause of women development in the country.
She said: “I’ve served in Prime Minister’s Youth Programme diligently, and to the best of my ability, purely as a volunteer and on an honorary basis. I believe in the spirit of volunteerism; I believe that women need to step up and work hard; women need to compete, women need to contribute to build a strong Pakistan.
“I support all women who against so many odds are brave enough to come out and struggle hard. I’m happy that PM’s Youth Programme is now in great shape and on track for the next five years. I’m happy that there is good momentum behind these revolutionary initiatives that are now being emulated in various places internationally and are being appreciated by many millions.
“This is an honour for Pakistan. I feel that this is an appropriate moment to hand over the reins of PM’s Youth Programme to another equally dedicated individual. This programme is here to stay and will touch new heights in days, weeks and months ahead, Inshallah.
“I feel extremely humbled for the opportunity to serve the youth of Pakistan via Prime Minister’s Youth Programme. I’m the proud daughter of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, who has dedicated the best of his years to public service and continues to toil hard for his country and his people. Indeed I’m a proud daughter of Pakistan.
“I’m a committed daughter, a committed worker and a committed Pakistani. I intend to continue my voluntary service for Pakistan and its people in the footsteps of my father, the prime minister.
“Nothing ever will deter me from serving my people and the cause of my land, with or without office/designation. I’m grateful for the enormous support I have received in the past weeks and I assure my well-wishers and the people of Pakistan that they will always find me supporting my father in building a greater, stronger, more prosperous Pakistan.”
Published in Dawn, November 13th , 2014