Maryam Nawaz arrives to appear before an anti-corruption commission at the Federal Judicial Academy in Islamabad on July 5, 2017. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad Pakistan has been gripped by Calibri controversy after the joint investigation team (JIT) probing the ruling Sharif family’s financial history found ‘anomalies’ in respondents’ statements which were given away by their use of the Calibri font.

The documents from 2006 submitted by Maryam Nawaz, daughter of prime minister Nawaz Sharif, were in the Calibri font. That font, according to the investigation team’s leaked report, wasn’t publicly available until 2007.

PM Sharif’s daughter used Microsoft Word’s Calibri font to allegedly forge documents about illegal offshore companies, Nielsen and Nescoll Limited, flagged in the Panama Papers.

This point of concern was highlighted by a British forensic handwriting firm which exposed that the ‘Calibri’ font used by Maryam in its documents had not been made available by Microsoft at the time.

The point 15. b. (2) (b) in Section II of the report, which comes under the “expert opinion” of Robert W. Radley of the London-based The Radley Forensic Document Laboratory reads: “I have identified the type font used to produce both certified Declarations as ‘Calibri’. However, Calibri was not commercially available before 31st January 2007 and as such, neither of the originals of the certified Declarations is correctly dated and happy to have been created at some later point in time.”

When Pakistani media contacted the designer of Calibri font, Lucas de Groot, he informed that the font “was made available to volume license customers (resellers) on November 30, 2006, and later to retail on January 30, 2007, [at] the same [time as the] respective release dates of Windows Vista.”

De Groot believes that the document signed by Maryam Nawaz was “produced much later, when Calibri was the default font in MS Word”. The first public beta version, according to Wikipedia, was released on June 6, 2006 — four months after the papers were reportedly signed by Maryam Nawaz.

After the revelation, the widely used Calibri font became a trending topic on Twitter in Pakistan, leading to debate whether the Calibri became available in 2004 or 2007.

Soon after the news broke out, Wikipedia was flooded with edit requests to change the release date of the Calibri font due to which Wikipedia has now protected the Calibri Wikipedia page “from editing until July 18, 2017, or until editing disputes have been resolved”.