For the past nine months all eyes have been on the National Accountability Bureau’s reference against the Sharif family in the Avenfield property case. The accountability court’s decision on Friday — which was announced after a four-hour delay — to convict ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and her husband Capt Safdar had Twitterati on fire with people sharing memes, videos and gifs.
Twitter users also made fun of the court’s delay to announce the decision.
@ImGreenGuru tweeted: “Dayum I just slept for a [few] hours and the world turns upside down for the political future of #NawazSharif, daughter @MaryamNSharif & son and law Capt Safdar. Who are all found guilty in the corruption references, wow I am like what’s next what’s next?”
@fasi_zaka tweeted: “It shouldn’t take this long for the judgement to reach the judge.”
He also tried to help the judge with an opening statement, “Potential Judgement Opening Lines: ‘Hosta La Vista Baby’ (T2, 1991) ‘Here’s looking at you, kid’ (Casablanca, 1942) ‘If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it.’ (Taken, 2008) ‘They call it a Royale with cheese.’ (Pulp Fiction, 1994).”
Giving his two cents, Alif Ailaan’s Mosharraf Zaidi tweeted: “Ruet e #AvenfieldReference Committee still deliberating.”
@Shobz said: “The judge finally made his way to the room. Come on, announce it already. #AvenfieldReference.”
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s ex-wife Rehan Khan also jumped in and said: “Is the court inspired by PIA flights? Kubhi tu time pey ho.”
Journalist Salman Masood tweeted: “Verdict against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif delayed twice today; will be announced in the afternoon. Party workers and political opponents both feel a conviction is a foregone conclusion but the accountability court judge managed to keep the suspense last a little longer.”
@KazmiWajahat, another journalist, tweeted: “The Accountability Court has once again delayed the verdict on #AvenfieldReference for the third time. The verdict will now hopefully be announced at 3 PM – Looks like the judiciary is enjoying all the thrill and media-hype!”
Another Twitter user said: “Clearly the accountability court needs a better photocopy machine and someone who can do better copies and compile them. Why this whole process was not sorted out before? Why the judgment was not printed and copied in advance?”
As #AvenfieldReference quickly became a top trend, academic Nida Kirmani said: “Does anyone remember that crappy book that came out a few years ago, ‘He’s Just Not that into You’? Does anyone have a spare copy we could lend to Imran to prepare him for things to come? #AvenfieldReference” and “For anyone surprised by the #AvenfieldReference verdict, can I have some of what you’re smoking? Need it now more than ever!”
Another reporter on the scene tweeted a photo of his colleagues standing outside a window and said: “The window of the washroom from where all the updates from inside the accountability court are coming out. Reporters inside pass out the info to those waiting outside where it is carried by the media.”
With the elections less than three weeks away, many people also wondered how this would impact the upcoming polls.
Popular Twitter account user @BajiPlease said: “Imran Khan is literally the ‘Man of the Series’ of the Panama Cup.”
@ismatshahjehan tweeted: “We are all for accountability but this for sure is pre-poll rigging. Widespread corruption is a systemic issue, which can never be addressed through selective accountability. The entire state apparatus needs to be democratized. #NawazSharif #MaryamNawaz #AvenfieldReference.”
Soon after the verdict, Maryam Nawaz took to Twitter to share this message: “This is a very small punishment for firmly standing in front of unseen forces. The morale to fight against oppression has increased today.”
She later tweeted in Urdu: “Nawaz Sharif is coming. That is why they are trying their hardest to stop him. Today was their last attempt. Inshallah, like before they will not be successful.”
PTI chairman’s friend and businessman Zulfiqar Bukhari (@sayedzbukhari) also tweeted regarding the reference and said: “Today is a historic day! Justice has been served. Congratulations #Pakistan #AbSirfImranKhan #AvenfieldReference.”
Party leader Naeemul Haque shared a photo with the PTI chief watching the NAB judgement and drinking tea in Swat with a hint of a smile on his face.
Hassan Niazi (HniaziISF), a lawyer and PTI supporter, posted a photo standing outside the Sharif property in London: “Outside Pakistan’s tax payers property – more funding for the DAMs coming home #AvenfieldCase #AvenfieldReference.”
He added that the Sharifs had no choice but to come back. “They have 10 days to file appeal. They need to surrender to file an appeal. So I’m sure they are looking at the Skyscanner for the options. Can’t be stupid enough to not come back. #CertifiedChor #AvenfiedReference.”
After the verdict was announced, the former prime minister’s brother held a press conference. Later, Shehbaz Sharif tweeted: “Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) strongly rejects the verdict of the Accountability Court in the Avenfield case. History will remember this verdict in black words. The decision is flawed, politically motivated & has glaring loopholes.”
However, former Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, responded to this and said: “Crocodile Tears of Shehbaz Sharif. The truth is that he is Jumping with Joy inside!”
Singer Bilal Khan also tweeted: “as Bob Dylan correctly said – the times they are a-changin’ #AvenfieldReference”
One of the most popular memes doing the rounds was a photoshopped poster of Rajkumar Hirani’s Ranbir Kapoor starrer Sanju, a biopic on superstar Sanjay Dutt, as Ganju starring the former prime minister. @TubeATweets said: “One Man…Many Lives. An #ImranKhan film #AvenfieldReference #Ganju”
Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2018