JIT and PM’s daughter

Updated 01 Jul 2017

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HER father, the prime minister, has appeared before the JIT as has her paternal uncle, the chief minister of Punjab.

Both her brothers have already appeared multiple times before the investigation team and are required to do so again.

Her sister’s father-in-law, the finance minister, may also be summoned.

Each of those individuals has publicly expressed their reservations about the composition and functioning of the JIT, but all of them have pledged to cooperate with it as required by the law.

So why should Maryam Nawaz Sharif be treated differently? The furious reaction of the PML-N to Ms Sharif’s summons by the JIT is puzzling.

The PML-N appears to be simultaneously arguing that the daughter of the prime minister is capable enough to succeed her father as the leader of the party, and perhaps the country one day, and needs to be shielded from answering questions by a legally constituted investigation team.

Or perhaps the party believes that because Ms Sharif may one day become leader of the party, and perhaps of the country, she must not suffer the indignity of having to appear before an inquiry team. Neither argument is even remotely convincing.

Perhaps the most insidious argument deployed by the PML-N is that as a woman, the daughter of the prime minister deserves special treatment.

This may appeal to quaint notions of honour and family reputation, but it does nothing to address the PML-N’s record on women.

Where, for example, is the PML-N’s condemnation of one of its senior-most leaders, Khawaja Asif, and his repeated, wildly misogynistic remarks against political opponents who happen to be women?

If the mere summoning of Ms Sharif by the JIT is an affront to the dignity of women, what does tolerance for misogyny in the PML-N’s ranks say about the party’s treatment of women?

Going further back in history, when the PML-N was confronted by a towering political opponent in Benazir Bhutto, the party was a pathological offender when it came to attacking the late PPP leader for her gender.

The only thing that appears to have changed is that the PML-N now faces the possibility of its leader nominating his daughter as his successor, a scenario that has suddenly awakened the PML-N to the dignity of women.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif is an ambitious politician; she must be treated fairly and justly, but the law ought to be gender-neutral.

Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2017