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Maryam scales her social media activity down

Updated June 06, 2017

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Maryam Nawaz — File
Maryam Nawaz — File

LAHORE: Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, appears to have become careful in tweeting following her squabble with some Pulitzer prize-winning journalists over Panama Papers and direct criticism on opposition.

She not only has cut short her ‘impulsive’ reaction to different issues on social media but also her direct criticism of opposition, especially Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf and its chairman Imran Khan.

Maryam was quite active on the Twitter till May 2 when in a series of ‘impulsive’ tweets on the Panama Papers, she first termed the documents ‘crap’ and then declared these were not about corruption. She even alleged that the journalists who broke the news were part of a “conspiracy against Pakistan”.

Following her tweets, Bastian Obermayer, a Pulitzer-winning journalist from German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung (who was the first to break the Panama story) said: “Sorry to tell you (Maryam) but the Panama Papers are about corruption.”

Frederik Obermaier‏, another Pulitzer-winning journalist, reminded Maryam that the scandal had not been as inconsequential as she believed.

“After this episode Maryam was advised by the family to be careful as it is not necessary to comment on every issue on social media,” a PML-N source close to the Sharif family told Dawn.

He said her tweet on an “unannounced” meeting between Nawaz Sharif and an Indian business tycoon at Murree in the last week of April provided an opportunity to the premier’s political opponents to criticise him for being a ‘friend of an Indian’.

“Mr Jindal (an Indian tycoon) is an old friend of the prime minister. Nothing ‘secret’ about the meeting & should not be blown out of proportion. Thank you,” she had tweeted.

“Maryam Bibi has got quite careful. You will now hardly see an ‘impulsive’ tweet by her,” the source said.

Since the Pulitzer-winning journalists ‘schooled’ Maryam on Panama Papers, the number of her personal tweets had gone down.

A month before this episode (April 2 to May 2) the number of Maryam’s personal tweets was around 130. However, in the month that followed (May 3 to June 3) her personal tweets dropped to 40 or so.

These days she has reduced her social media activity, mostly, to re-tweeting the comments and images critical of the PTI and its chairman.

Maryam, who joined the Twitter in 2012, started her social media activism after the PML-N came to power in mid 2013, especially to counter the PTI onslaught on the government. The PTI accuses her of overseeing media affairs of the PML-N to target the party’s opponents. Before Maryam’s appearance on social media, the PTI was solely ruling the front.

“Maryam had evolved a social media set up to counter the political rivals of her father’s government. Because of her, PML-N today is on a par with the PTI on social media,” the source said. State Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb, who is close to Maryam Nawaz, did not comment on Dawn’s query on the issue.

However, a PML-N MPA from Punjab, Hina Pervaiz Butt, who is also quite active on social media, told Dawn that the impression that Maryam had limited her social media activity was wrong.

“She is still active on social media and is highlighting and projecting positive developments happening in the country. She keeps herself updated on the hours of loadshedding at different places, and her account is open to common citizens who discuss their issues there and she goes out of the way to help them in all ways possible,” the MPA said.

“Anything that happens in the country, Maryam responds to it very actively. She is a woman of strong nerves who never accepts defeat,” Ms Hina added.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2017