ISLAMABAD - Hours after the death of former first lady Kulsoom Nawaz, Pakistan People’s Party leader Aitzaz Ahsan yesterday tendered an ‘unconditional’ apology to the Sharif family for hurting their sentiments during her cancer treatment.

Ahsan said he was deeply saddened over Kulsoom Nawaz’s death and wanted to apologise for the bitter comments he made in the past. “I unconditionally apologise for my statement. I will attend Kulsoom Bibi’s funeral,” he said. He termed Kulsoom Nawaz a kind-hearted and pious lady adding her death was a big loss to the Sharif family.

The PPP leader said he appreciated Kulsoom Nawaz protest after Pervez Musharraf toppled her husband Nawaz Sharif’s government in a coup in 1999. Sharif is again in jail in connection with the corruption cases after being ousted for a record third time in July 2017 – this time by the Supreme Court. A few months back, Ahsan had not only ridiculed Kulsoom Nawaz but had also belittled the ordeal of Maryam Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif.

He had gone to the extent of saying that Harley Street Clinic where Kulsoom Nawaz was admitted for cancer treatment was owned and operated by Sharifs. Aitzaz Ahsan also claimed that the clinic was not meant for cancer patients.

Alleging that the clinic only conducted bypass surgeries of human hearts, the PPP leader said that former premier Nawaz Sharif was tending to his ailing wife as a delaying tactic in corruption references against him.

His comments cost him the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)’s support in this month’s presidential polls where he stood third behind Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf’s Dr Arif Alvi and PML-N backed Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Alvi won the elections to become the country’s president.

While the PPP described Ahsan as the best candidate among the three, the PML-N referred to his statements about Kulsoom Nawaz. When the PPP sought support for Ahsan as opposition’s joint candidate, PML-N senior leader Pervez Rashid had demanded that he should first apologise to the Sharifs for the controversial statements. Ahsan refused to apologize and the PPP also did not withdraw his nomination.

Meanwhile, PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman said she was deeply saddened to hear of Kulsoom Nawaz’s death. “She was an exceptional woman who faced testing times with unwavering resilience and whose efforts for democracy will be remembered. We mourn her passing deeply. May she rest in peace,” she said.