Maryam, Jemima spar on social media after PM’s taunt

Published July 21, 2021
This combo photo shows PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz (left) and  Jemima Goldsmith. — Photos AFP
This combo photo shows PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz (left) and Jemima Goldsmith. — Photos AFP

LAHORE: Jemima Goldsmith and Maryam Nawaz were on Tuesday engaged in a war of words on Twitter over an issue stemming from Prime Minister Imran Khan’s taunts about the PML-N vice president’s son and the Sharif family’s alleged corruption.

It all started a few days ago when during an election rally in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) PM Khan had taken a jibe at Maryam Nawaz’s son Junaid Safdar for playing ‘kings’ sport’ polo in the UK.

Read: A request to PM Imran and Maryam: Can we keep anti-Semitism and children out of politics?

Referring to the pictures of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif attending his grandson’s polo match in London, Mr Khan had said: “The poor go to jail and the powerful [Nawaz Sharif] get NRO [deal] to go abroad and watch his grandson’s polo match. The common man cannot play polo — a kings’ sport. You need a lot of money to keep a horse and play polo. So tell us where this dear grandson got this money from. It’s the people’s money.”

Maryam Nawaz, who is running her party’s election campaign extensively in AJK, went for a tit-for-tat response to the premier involving his children, which invited criticism on social media for being anti-Semitic. “My son [Junaid] is the polo team captain [for Cambridge University] and is bringing honour to Pakistan. He is Nawaz Sharif’s grandson, not Goldsmith’s and he is not being raised in the lap of Jews,” she rebuked.

It all started when Imran in AJK election rally took a jibe at PML-N leader’s son for playing ‘kings’ sport’ polo in UK

Ms Nawaz also said she didn’t want to bring children into it, but the way Mr Khan was talking a “befitting reply” had to be given.

Enters the PM’s ex-wife Jemima, who shared a screenshot of a news report about Maryam’s comments, and tweeted: “My kids are ‘being raised in the lap of the Jews’, announced @MaryamNSharif today. I left Pakistan in 2004 after a decade of antisemitic attacks by the media & politicians (& weekly death threats & protests outside my house). But still it continues.”

Later that day, Maryam Nawaz responded to Jemima’s tweet, saying: “I have absolutely no interest in you, your sons or your personal lives because I have better things to do and say but if your ex [Imran Khan] drags in families of others out of spite, others will have nastier things to say. You have only your ex to blame.”

After Jemima and Maryam’s twitter spat, supporters of the ruling PTI and the opposition PML-N took on each other’s leadership.

Rights activist Ammar Ali Jan said in reply to Jemima’s tweet: “Maryam Nawaz’ attacks against you [Jemima] and your kids were extremely disgraceful. People of Pakistan have nothing but respect for your family. Hope this pushback will be a lesson to those who continue to use bigotry against political opponents.”

Teacher and journalist Dr Awais Saleem tweeted: “Whether Imran Khan attacks Maryam Nawaz’s son or Maryam attacks IK’s kids, both cases are disgraceful & unacceptable. If you are only condemning one & not the other, your selective outrage only aggravates the problem. Morality, ethics, principles don’t depend on likes & dislikes.”

Reportedly, PM Khan had been embittered about the Sharifs since their government had booked his then wife Jemima for allegedly smuggling antiques in 1998. Ms Goldsmith was reportedly sending 397 tiles to her mother in London in December that year when the package was seized by the Pakistani customs authorities. The archaeological department had declared the tiles “antiques”.

When PM Sharif was deposed by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case in 2017, Jemima had tweeted: “Good riddance to the man who tried to get me jailed when I was pregnant with my 2nd child on trumped up (non-bailable) charges of smuggling.”

When asked why PM Khan had chosen to target Maryam’s son in the Kashmir election campaign, a PTI leader said: “Imran Khan had targeted Maryam and Sharifs only because the latter was continuously using offensive language about the premier. He had to say something; in politics such things are not uncommon.”

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn: “Dragging Maryam’s son in the controversy only shows Imran Khan’s frustration, who is not happy to see people’s response to his party’s public meetings in AJK, and reflected his mentality.”

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2021

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