Pakistan ex-PM Sharif's daughter arrested amid crackdown

In this photo taken on July 25, 2019, Maryam Nawaz Sharif addresses a gathering in Quetta. She is the latest member of her family to be targeted under the government of Mr Imran Khan.
In this photo taken on July 25, 2019, Maryam Nawaz Sharif addresses a gathering in Quetta. She is the latest member of her family to be targeted under the government of Mr Imran Khan.PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistani anti-corruption officials arrested opposition leader and daughter of former Pakistani prime minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif on Thursday (Aug 8), one of the most high-profile arrests in a crackdown on alleged graft.

Sharif is the latest member of her family to be targeted under the government of Mr Imran Khan, who swept to victory last year.

Her father, Nawaz Sharif, who served as prime minister three times, was sentenced in 2018 to seven years in jail for corruption. Her uncle, former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, has also faced investigation, along with other relatives.

Her detention sparked a walk out by opposition legislators at the country's Parliament on Thursday.

"Today in this new Pakistan, Miss Maryam Nawaz has been arrested without any conviction so I am walking out of this house," announced Mr Bilawal Bhutto, chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, during an address to Parliament.

Sharif's arrest in the eastern city of Lahore comes just a day after authorities took former finance minister and Sharif family loyalist Miftah Ismail into custody on graft charges.

Last month, former prime minister Shadhid Khaqan Abbasi and former president Asif Ali Zardari were also arrested.

Corruption is widely entrenched in Pakistan, with politicians regularly accused of misusing or stealing public funds and whisking the money out of the country.

 
 

Prime Minister Imran Khan was elected after running a fiery campaign against graft, but has also been accused of persecuting his political adversaries rather than launching wide-ranging reforms.

Since taking office, Mr Khan has struggled to stabilise Pakistan's sinking economy beset by soaring inflation, a depreciating rupee, and ballooning deficits.

He now faces the difficult task of confronting arch-rival India, after Delhi unilaterally revoked Kashmir's special status earlier this week.