Maryam Nawaz appears to be on the right side of Lady Luck now. Following an IHC decision overturning her conviction in the Avenfield case, a full bench of the Lahore High Court has ordered that Maryam Nawaz’s passport be returned to her. She had surrendered her passport to the court in order to obtain bail in a case involving the Chaudhry Sugar Mills. Her lawyer claimed that in 2019, NAB forced Maryam to surrender her passport in exchange for bail. As of yet, no reference has been filed in this case, but her passport has been held for three years—without justification, according to her legal team. Legal observers had also stated at the time that keeping someone’s passport with the threat of canceling their bail if they did not surrender their passport was a violation of their freedom of movement and other fundamental rights. Indeed, with the rapid unraveling of many of the cases that had effectively isolated a portion of the Sharif House from politics, old questions have resurfaced: the Panama case and its judgment based on a legal dictionary; the issue of the surrendered passport; and the Avenfield case. In all of this, NAB appears to have made charges with little substance.
When it was out of power, the PML-N claimed that fundamental rights do not matter if you are not on the right side of power. Their argument over the last three or four years has been that Project Imran was launched to remove the Sharifs from the country’s power equation, that fake cases were filed against PML-N leaders, that trumped-up charges were leveled, and that politicians were imprisoned on trumped-up charges only because Imran Khan had to be brought into power one way or another. While many of these allegations may never be resolved, much remains unknown about the details of the run-up to – and process of – the 2018 elections.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, by far the luckier politician, can now finally put the IHC contempt case behind him after the case was dismissed. While his third apology was not completely unconditional, his visit to the court to apologize to Justice Zeba Chauhdry appears to have been deemed sufficient to demonstrate his intention to apologize. There will be the usual comparison with similar cases involving PML-N leaders Danial Aziz and Talal Chaudhry, among others. However, the contempt case has now been resolved. On the other hand, Imran is still dealing with the government’s talk of an Article 6 proceeding against him. Meanwhile, he continues to address the public and point cryptically at power players in the country whom he blames for his demise. With Maryam’s passport returned, Ishaq Dar back in the finance ministry, and rumors of a possible Nawaz return, the PML-fortunes N’s have changed dramatically in recent months. The big question now is whether Maryam will return to London. More importantly, will it be a visit to see her father and entice him to return, or is there an eternal ‘deal’ in the works to keep father and daughter away from politics?
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