The daughter of Pakistan’s prime minister has become subject of ridicule in her home country after forensic experts cast doubts on documents central to her defence against corruption allegations.
Mariam Nawaz Sharif is under supreme court investigation after the 2016 Panama Papers leak tied her to a purchase of high-end London property acquired through offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.
The unlikely source of this latest controversy, in a scandal that has gripped Pakistan for more than a year, is a font designed by Microsoft.
Documents claiming that Mariam Nawaz Sharif was only a trustee of the companies that bought the London flats, are dated February 2006, and appear to be typed in Microsoft Calibri.
But the font was only made commercially available in 2007, leading to suspicions that the documents are forged.
Social media users have derided Sharif for this apparent misstep, coining the hashtag #fontgate.
According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, the Calibri font was developed in 2004 but only reached the general public on 30 January 2007 with the launch of Microsoft Vista and Microsoft Office 2007.
The Wikipedia Calibri page usually receives about 500 visits per day. On July 11 and 12 combined, it received about 150,000.
After users seemingly tried to change the article’s content to say the font was available from 2004, Wikipedia suspended editing on its Calibri page “until July 18 2017, or until editing disputes have been resolved”.
One supporter hailed the move, saying people seeking to edit the page “are trying to save a corrupt political party on corruption charges”. Others praised Wikipedia for its quick response and said it was proof of the company’s integrity.
Opposition parties have urged prime minister Nawaz Sharif to step down after the investigation found a “significant disparity” between his family’s declared wealth and known sources of income. Opposition leader Imran Khan said Sharif had “lost all moral authority” and must resign immediately.
Sharif has denied wrongdoing and said his family’s wealth was acquired legally.