LAHORE - Former three-time first lady of Pakistan and spouse of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif Begum Kulsoom Nawaz breathed her last in London yesterday after protracted ailment of cancer.
Begum Kulsoom Nawaz was 68 years of age. She will be laid to rest at her family residence, Jati Umra, Raiwind, mostly likely on Friday, where her father-in-law, Mian Sharif, and brother-in-law, Abbas Sharif, are also buried. Former Punjab chief minister and brother of Nawaz Sharif will leave for London to bring back the body of his sister-in-law.
Begum Kulsoom Nawaz who was getting treatment at Harley Street Clinic, London, had sudden deterioration in health last day following which she was put on ventilator and passed away in that state. After the clinic authorities certified her death, her body was shifted to her London residence. Her funeral prayers will be offered Thursday at Regent Park Mosque, London.
PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar were informed about the death of Begum Kulsoom in Adiala Jail. Shehbaz Sharif telephoned his elder brother immediately on receiving the news of her death. Later, Shehbaz flew to Adiala Jail and met Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar on special permission by the jail authorities.
Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law are in Adiala Jail after conviction in Avenfield reference by the accountability court, Islamabad.
The Punjab Home Department late Tuesday night released on parole Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt Safdar for 12 hours. According to a private TV channel, the parole is for 12 hours which can be extended if need arises by the Punjab cabinet.
The Sharif family has requested the government to release Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar for five days to attend the last rituals of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz .
All the three boarded a special plane at Islamabad Airport for Lahore a little before 2.00am. The TV channel reported that as per the parole order the prisoners cannot leave the Jati Umra limits.
The PML-N leaders met at Model Town Secretariat to take stock of the situation and finalise arrangements for the burial of Begum Kulsoom whose body is expected to reach here Friday.
A number of workers reached the Model Town Secretariat of the party where emotional scenes were witnessed. Senior party member Begum Tehmina Dualtana reached Jati Urma and condoled the death of Begum Kulsoom with the mother of Nawaz Sharif, Begum Shamim Akhthar. Former minister Kamran Michael announced to hold special service for the deceased Sunday.
Party leader Khawaja Imran while talking to the media, announced to suspend all PML-N activities for three days to mourn the death of Begum Sahiba. On behalf of the party, he demanded at least a weeklong release of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt Safdar on parole.
Hassain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, the sons of Begum Kulsoom, are already in London. Former finance minster Ishaq Dar is also in London. The three have been declared proclaimed offenders by the Pakistani court in the criminal reference as they failed to show up in the trial proceedings despite repeated notices. The PTI government, in the maiden cabinet meeting, had placed names of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Capt Safdar on the ECL, acting upon the NAB request. They cannot travel abroad while the Pakistani passports of Ishaq Dar and his spouse have been suspended as the NAB was seeking return of Dar through the Interpol following court directions. Dar cannot leave London after suspension of the passport.
Mother of four, Begum Kulsoom, was a housewife, but she was obliged to come out and lead the party after Pervez Musharraf dismissed the government of Nawaz Sharif on October 12, 1999, and put him behind bars. She performed as acting president of the party when Nawaz Sharif was convicted in plane hijacking case. Begum Kulsoom, who held the office till June 2000, played a highly active, forceful and unprecedented political role that not only enabled the release of her family members but also Sharifs’ stay in Saudi Arabia through the courtesy of the Saudi royal family.
Begum Sahiba commanded tremendous respect in the PML-N and the political quarters of the country.
After the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif in Panama case on July 28, 2017, Begum Kulsoom contested and won the NA-120 Lahore seat which was vacated by her husband. At that time she was under treatment in London and her election campaign was run by her daughter, Maryam Nawaz.
Earlier, Begum Kulsoom had left for London in mid-August 2017 for medical check-up, where she was diagnosed with throat cancer which, according to reports received here, was found curable. Begum Kulsoom passed through four major and minor surgeries and chemotherapy that brought ups and downs to her health state. On being stable, she was allowed to be shifted to her London house, but was put back to the hospital again after short time when her condition deteriorated.
On June 14 last, Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, taking a respite from the under-trial case against them before the accountability court in Islamabad, reached London to see Begum Kulsoom Nawaz . In the evening of the same day, Begum Kulsoom suffered cardiac arrest which led her to a long unconscious state. She was put on ventilator when the doctors did their best to resuscitate her. She had blood congealment in the lungs that also caused her high-grade fever. After hectic efforts, doctors were able to bring about a slight improvement in her health, but her life remained at threat.
Nawaz Sharif and Maryam were in London when the accountability court handed convicted them in Avenfeild reference on July 6. Both could not return to the country, leaving Begum Kulsoom in highly serious and unconscious state. They intended to come back and face the law but only after they could see a little bit improvement in the health condition of Begum Kulsoom. However, they came back to Pakistan on July 13, leaving Begum Sahiba behind in critical condition. On their return, both were taken into custody inside the plane and shifted to Adiala Jail amid very tight security. The media reports, after return of the Sharifs, explained improvement in the health state of Begum Kulsoom to the extent of opening eyes and slightly responding to calls. On Monday night, Begum Sahiba again had breakdown of health, upon which she was put on ventilator at the Clinic and she breathed her last in that state.