There are times when something pretty insignificant assumes a very important role – so important that it might bring down a government. Such is the case of the Calibri font and the Government of Pakistan. In what is turning out to be called #fontgate, officials investigating the financial assets of Nawaz Sharif, the Prime minister and his family, have alleged that his daughter has forged documents to provide fake evidence in the case. And their strongest argument for this? The Calibri font.
Documents dated 2006 which were submitted by the PM’s daughter Maryam Nawaz contain the font Calibri. The font wasn’t commercially available till 2007. Yes, this does happen in real life too.
Looking deeper into the story of Calibri, one would see that it became the default font on a number of Microsoft applications 2007 onwards. Microsoft has stated that version 1.0 of the font was available for download as early as 2005. Another argument in support of the PM comes from font expert Thomas Phinney, who stated that Calibri was part of a Windows pre-release even earlier in 2004.
Arguments from both sides could prove to be crucial in resolving the case in the country’s Supreme Court. But the interesting thing about this situation is that Calibri right now holds national significance in Pakistan with #fontgate trending on social media.
According to Dawn, a leading English newspaper from Pakistan, Calibri creator Lucas De Groot is skeptical of “a completely unknown font being used for a government document even before it’s official release”. The current investigation has its roots in the Panama papers leak that has named many of the wealthy and powerful personalities and families around the world in what could be the biggest financial scandal of our age. The Pakistani Prime Minister’s family – along with numerous heads of state – were mentioned in the leak.
Currently, the situation in Pakistan is seeing sufficient support for both sides, with the Defence minister even calling the report ‘trash’ and ‘full of flaws’. One thing is certain – if a font has ever come closest to becoming a national font, this is it.