Pakistan ex-PM Sharif’s daughter arrested amid crackdown

Pakistani anti-corruption officials arrested opposition leader and daughter of former Pakistani prime minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif Thursday. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 August 2019

Pakistan ex-PM Sharif’s daughter arrested amid crackdown

  • 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

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani anti-corruption officials arrested opposition leader and daughter of former Pakistani prime minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif Thursday, 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 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 Bilawal Bhutto, chairman of the Pakistan Peoples 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, Khan has struggled to stabilize 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 Dehli unilaterally revoked Kashmir’s special status earlier this week.


Oxford University probes ‘sale’ of ancient Bible fragments originally from Egypt

Updated 19 min 10 sec ago

Oxford University probes ‘sale’ of ancient Bible fragments originally from Egypt

  • The university is investigating wether an associate professor unilaterally sold about a dozen fragments to the US retailer Hobby Lobby
  • The artifacts were part of the Oxyrhynchus collection owned by the London-based Egypt Exploration Society

LONDON: Oxford University said Wednesday it has launched an investigation into claims that one of its professors sold ancient Bible fragments to the controversial US company of a billionaire evangelical Christian.
The renowned British university confirmed it was seeking to establish if Dirk Obbink, an associate professor in papyrology and Greek literature, unilaterally sold about a dozen fragments to the US retailer Hobby Lobby.
The arts and crafts chain was founded by Steve Green, who is also chairman of the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC, and has courted controversy for supporting conservative causes.
The artifacts were part of the Oxyrhynchus collection owned by the London-based Egypt Exploration Society, which initiated its own probe earlier this year after it emerged its items may be held by the museum. 

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project is a collection of centuries-old manuscripts recovered from an ancient Egyptian rubbish dump during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

“We can confirm we are engaging with the Egypt Exploration Society with regard to the allegations concerning papyri from the Oxyrhynchus Collection,” an Oxford University spokesperson said.
“The University is conducting its own internal investigation to seek to establish the facts.”
Obbink did not respond to a request for comment from AFP.
In a statement, the EES said it had been working with the museum to clarify whether any texts from its collection had been sold or offered for sale to Hobby Lobby or its agents.
That followed the emergence of a copy of a redacted 2017 contract purportedly between Obbink and the retailer for the sale of six items, “including four New Testament fragments probably of EES provenance.”
The EES statement added the museum had subsequently provided photos identifying 13 texts from its collection which had been “taken without authorization” and were now being returned.
“The (museum) has informed the EES that 11 of these pieces came into its care after being sold to Hobby Lobby Stores by Professor Obbink, most of them in two batches in 2010,” EES said.
The society noted it had not re-appointed Obbink in August 2016 as a general editor of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri project partly due to concerns “about his alleged involvement in the marketing of ancient texts.”
It added he was then banned from any access to its collection “pending his satisfactory clarification of the 2013 contract” which he had yet to provide.
“We cannot comment here on any broader legal issues arising from these findings, except to note that they are under consideration by all the institutions concerned,” EES said.
It is not the first time both Hobby Lobby and the Museum of the Bible have been caught up in an artifacts controversy.
The company was forced to pay a $3 million settlement in 2017 and give up 5,500 artifacts — including ancient clay cuneiform tablets from Iraq — that the US Justice Department said were illegally imported.
Meanwhile the museum last year announced that five items it had said were fragments of the ancient manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls were in fact fake, and would no longer be displayed.