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    Tuesday, July 4, 2017

    Maryam not the first noted Pakistani woman to face darker side of politics

    As she has been summoned by the high-profile Joint Investigation Team (JIT), empowered with quasi-judicial authority by the Supreme Court, Premier Nawaz Sharif's eldest daughter Maryam Nawaz is not be the first eminent Pakistani woman to face the darker side of politics which includes appearing before judges and investigators (either as a defendant or a plaintiff) or even facing political vendetta, consequent arrests and prosecution etc.Shirin Bai, Nusrat Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and many others appeared before the court in past. Maryam is expected to present herself Wednesday before the JIT that is probing allegations of financial impropriety against the ruling Sharif family. Before Maryam, noted Pakistani women who had seen the most painful and cruel aspects of politics include her mother Begum Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif, General Musharraf’s wife Sehba Musharraf and daughter Ayla Raza and PTI Chief Imran Khan's three sisters Rani Hafiz Khan, Uzma Khan and Aleema Khan.
    Then, there have been highly respected Pakistani women, who had either moved court to seek justice for personal reasons or who were summoned by arbiters as defendants. These include the likes of Fatima Jinnah and Shirin Bai, the two younger sisters of Quaid-e-Azam Mohamed Ali Jinnah.
    Coming to Begum Kulsoom first, she was arrested on October 12, 1999, after Gen Musharraf's coup had deposed her husband Nawaz Sharif. She was arrested by female members of the Pakistan Army Corps of Military Police and immediately shifted to her local residence unlike her husband who was taken to Adiala Jail.
    In November 1999, the women of the Sharif family (Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, Begum Mian Sharif, Begum Abbas Sharif, Nusrat Shahbaz Sharif and the deposed prime minister's two daughters Maryam and Asma) were released on "humanitarian grounds" on request of a Gulf ruler. Begum Kalsoom was again detained in July 2000.
    In July 2000, prestigious British newspaper "The Guardian" had reported: "The wife of Pakistan's deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif was penned in her Lahore home last night, surrounded by armed police desperate to stop her leading an anti-government rally. Police detained Kulsoom Sharif for 10 hours, at one point using a crane to tow away her Toyota car while she sat inside it with colleagues. Officers arrested at least 200 members of her husband's Pakistan Muslim League to stop the rally going ahead. Riot police raided a Muslim League meeting in Rawalpindi and detained another 30 people. Party workers say up to 1,000 people have been detained nationwide. What would have been a small-scale protest quickly turned into an ugly demonstration of the tough arm of the military, which seized power in a coup in October."
    Nawaz Sharif had then named Kulsoom as the President of Pakistan Muslim League in 1999, and she remained on post till 2002. For months before the exile of Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia, Kulsoom had fearlessly built a momentum for political activity against General Musharraf. It paid off in the form of putting an end to the agony of her husband in jail.
    Research conducted by the "Jang Group and Geo Television network" further reveals that in March 2017, former president Gen Musharraf’s wife and daughter had challenged attachments of their properties and bank accounts in a Special Court, which was hearing the high treason case against the former dictator.
    Musharraf’s wife Sehba Musharraf and daughter Ayla Raza and children of Sehba Musharraf’s late sister Huma Khaishgi had filed objections against the attachment of their properties as a result of Special Court order dated July 19, 2016.
    The retired army chief's farm house in Chak Shahzad, Islamabad, Plot No.1 DHA Phase-II, Islamabad, Plot No.172, Khayaban-e-Faisal, Phase-VIII, DHA, Karachi and Plot No.301, Beach Street No.1, Phase-VIII, DHA, Karachi and the bank accounts were attached as per the Special Court order.
    In November 2007, while PTI Chief Imran Khan was arrested dramatically after he was trying to lead a student protest outside the Punjab University to denounce what he dubbed an "autocratic rule" of Gen Musharraf, three of his sisters Rani Hafiz Khan, Uzma Khan and Aleema Khan were also handcuffed by the police after they were proceeding towards Punjab University New campus from Lahore's Barkat Market to protest against the detention of Imran and his manhandling by a group of students.
    Imran's sisters were released later during the night. Along with other female activists, Imran's sisters were first shifted to Gulberg police station and later to the Model Town police station. The arrests were made under Sections 144, 186 and 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
    Media archives suggest that in the absence of lady police, male police officials thrashed and manhandled the female PTI activists.
    In a press statement the PTI spokesman alleged the PTI workers and activists including women had been thrashed on the special instructions of the then Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi by the plain clothed personnel. And now a bit about Quaid-e-Azam's sisters and their litigation history:
    On September 24, 1948, after the demise of Quaid-e-Azam, his sister Fatima Jinnah and the then prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan had submitted a joint petition at the Karachi High Court whereby describing the country's founder as a `Shia Khoja Mohamedan' and hence praying that his will be disposed of under Shia Inheritance Law.
    Then, on February 6, 1968, after Fatima Jinnah's death, her sister Shirin Bai had moved an application in a local court, claiming her dead sibling's property under the Shia Inheritance Law.
    The leading witnesses to appear for Shirin Bai in 1968 were I.H. Ispahani, a family friend of the Quaid and his honorary secretary in 1936, and Matloobul Hassan Syed, who had also served as Jinnah's private secretary. In fact, Shirin Bai had appeared as a defendant and as a plaintiff in two different cases.
    In one of his articles titled "The secular Mussalman," celebrated Pakistani journalist Khaled Ahmed writes: "On October 29, 1970, one Hussain Ali Gangji Walji filed a suit against Shirin Bai, seeking to prove that Fatima Jinnah was in fact a Sunni, as was Jinnah, and that therefore Shirin Bai was entitled to only half the inheritance under Sunni law, the other half going to the agnate relations, that is, to the offspring of Fatima Jinnah's paternal uncle. Hussain Ali was the son of Gangji Walji, the son of Walji Poonja, Jinnah's paternal uncle."
    He had added: "Hussain Ali deposed that he was himself an Ismaili Shia and not an Isna-Ashari Shia. According to witness, Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Jinnah broke from the Ismail faith in 1901 after his two sisters, Rehmat Bai and Maryam Bai, got married into Sunni Muslim families. It appears that this happened because the Ismail community objected to these marriages. Also, the conversion of Isna-Ashari Shiism happened in Jinnah's immediate family, and not in the families of his two paternal uncles, Walji and Nathoo."
    It is common knowledge that the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Syeda Shehla Raza and Sharmila Farooqui---all hailing from Pakistan People Party---were all imprisoned at some stage and had to face courts as defendants in both political and corruption-related cases. 
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    Item Reviewed: Maryam not the first noted Pakistani woman to face darker side of politics Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar