New Delhi: Besides wishes for Eid, Pakistani Twitter Wednesday was divided between Team Jemima and Team Maryam. It began with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s jibe at opposition leader Maryam Nawaz’s son Junaid. But somehow, it quickly devolved into a she-said-she-said mahayudh between Khan’s ex-wife Jemima Goldsmith and Nawaz Sharif’s daughter and politician Maryam Nawaz.
Taunts like ‘bhabhi’ and ‘anti-Semitic’ flew thick and fast. Their defenders even roped in Phoolan Devi and Mother Teresa.
At a recent election rally, Khan had mocked Junaid for playing the ‘king’s sport’ polo in London and for doting grandfather Nawaz Sharif flying to see the game. Maryam Nawaz jumped to defend her son, but not without dragging Khan’s son into the argument.
“My son is the polo team captain 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 said.
Then there was a barrage of messages to pacify and extend support to Jemima Goldsmith.
“STAY STRONG @Jemima_Khan!!”
Some even said PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz proved that “money can’t buy you class or manners.”
“Can’t wait for Bhabhi to annihilate this witch!”
— Pernia Khan (@PerniaKhan) July 20, 2021
Pakistani politician Jawad Ahmad called Jemima Goldsmith a “nobody in Pakistan’s politics.”
Jemima Goldsmith is a nobody in Pakistan’s politics where 85% of is population is living like insects. She is a British billionaire who chose not to live in Pakistan & speaks half truths about her departure & about Imran Khan the hypocrite to Pakistanis. She doesn’t matter to us. https://t.co/X086mON3s3
— Jawad Ahmad (@jawadahmadone) July 20, 2021
Imran Khan’s real target clearly wasn’t Junaid, but he was trying to take a dig at the Sharif family’s alleged corruption.
“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”, Khan had said at the rally.
After saying all this, Maryam insisted that she did not want to bring children into it, but Khan deserved a “befitting reply”.
Entry of Jemima Goldsmith
Not a part of Imran Khan’s life or Pakistan’s politics for over a decade, Jemima Goldsmith spoke up too.
“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.”
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 https://t.co/TGjUxfT1gC
— Jemima Goldsmith (@Jemima_Khan) July 19, 2021
And she clearly does have a point.
Despite divorcing Imran Khan over 17 years ago, Goldsmith has been at the receiving end due to her relationship with the cricketer-turned-politician. Including the name Bhabhi, which she is still referred to as. And the occasional “Do you still love IK, Bhabhi” comment.
Do u still love ik bhabhi
— D (@ruedEnuf) July 21, 2021
Then there’s the Opposition
Maryam Nawaz did not take this one sitting either.
“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 drags in families of others out of spite, others will have nastier things to say. You have only your ex to blame,” she tweeted at Goldsmith.
One observer in Pakistan, author and banker Mir Mohammad Alikhan, rather interestingly summarised the entire exchange.
“Watching Maryam N Sharif argue with Jemima_Khan is like watching….PHOOLAN DEVI argue with MOTHER TERESA.”
PHOOLAN DEVI argue with MOTHER TERESA.
— Mir Mohammad Alikhan (@MirMAKOfficial) July 20, 2021
There is some murky history here between Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif over Jemima. In 1998, Nawaz Sharif had booked Khan’s then-wife Jemima for allegedly smuggling antiques. She was reportedly sending tiles to her mother in London when the package was seized by customs authorities in Pakistan.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.