Wife of jailed ex-PM Nawaz Sharif dies in London

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of the ex-Premier of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, has died in London after losing her battle with cancer. (Reuters)
Updated 11 September 2018
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Wife of jailed ex-PM Nawaz Sharif dies in London

  • Sharif family has decided to bury Kulsoom Nawaz in Pakistan
  • She will be remembered for her struggle for democracy, says close aide

ISLAMABAD: Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of ex-Premier Nawaz Sharif, died in London on Tuesday after losing her battle with cancer. Her body will be brought back to Pakistan on the first available flight for burial.

“My sister-in-law and wife of Mian Nawaz Sharif, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, has passed away. May the departed soul rest in peace,” Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and the deceased’s brother-in-law, Shehbaz Sharif, confirmed in a tweet.

The former first lady had been undergoing cancer treatment at a Harley Street clinic in London since August last year after she was diagnosed with early-stage lymphoma.

She underwent multiple surgeries and at least five chemotherapy sessions, but did not recover. She has been on life-support in the hospital since July this year.


“Shehbaz Sharif is leaving for London on the first available flight to bring back the body,” Sen. Mushahidullah Khan, secretary information PML-N, told Arab News. “The family has decided to bury Kulsoom Nawaz in Pakistan.”

Jailed ex-premier Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam Nawaz are currently in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, serving their sentences in the Avenfield corruption case; and were handed jail sentences of 10 years and seven years respectively.

Mushahidullah Khan said that they would apply for the release of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz from jail to attend the last rites of the deceased. “Our legal team will handle the matter,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan sent his condolences on the death of Kulsoom Nawaz and assured the bereaved family of full legal support within the ambit of the law and constitution.

“We have conveyed to the Pakistan High Commission in London to fully cooperate with the (Sharif) family to bring back the body,” Iftikhar Durrani, media adviser to the prime minister, told Arab News.

“The (Sharif) family is in jail and if they apply to participate in the rituals as per law, we have no objection. Whatever the legal facilitation is available (for Nawaz Sharif and Maryam), we have conveyed to them (the family),” he said.

“We are sorry and express our condolences to the family. The government is ready to extend all our support within the legal boundaries,” he said.

Advocate Sharafat Ali, an assistant to the legal team of the Sharif family, said that it was the prerogative of the jail authorities to release Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on parole and “we will apply soon for their release.”

“An application will be submitted to the jail authorities seeking the release of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt. (Retd.) Mohammed Safdar, and we are sure that they will attend the funeral of Kulsoom Nawaz,” he told Arab News.

Shortly after the news broke on media, condolence messages began pouring in.

Leaders of political parties and Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the chief of army staff, extended their condolences to the bereaved family.

“COAS expresses his grief and heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family on the sad demise of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. May Allah bless the departed soul eternal peace at Heaven-Amen,” the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations said in a message.

Begum Kulsoom served as first lady of Pakistan for three non-consecutive terms from 1990-1993, 1997-1999 and 2013-2017. Born in 1950 in Lahore to a Kashmiri family, Begum Kulsoom married Nawaz Sharif in 1971 after completing her master’s degree in Urdu from Punjab University, Lahore.

She also served as the president of the PML-N from 1999 to 2002 after her husband’s government was dismissed by former President Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup in October 1999, and nearly all the Sharif men were jailed.

“She was a courageous lady, and will be remembered for her struggle for democracy and for her love for the people of Pakistan,” Mushahidullah Khan told Arab News.


India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

Updated 22 September 2018
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India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

  • Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
  • Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”

DELHI: India’s prime minister was under fire over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after comments by former French President François Hollande. Hollande was quoted as saying Narendra Modi’s government had influenced the choice of a local partner.
Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
The opposition, led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, spent the past year alleging that the deal is a scam, in which India is overpaying for jets and the government is allowing a private company — billionaire Indian businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defense — to benefit instead of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
On Friday, Hollande, who cleared the intergovernmental deal when he was in office, was quoted as saying New Delhi had put pressure on Dassault to choose Reliance.
“We had no choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us,” he was reported as telling the French news service Mediapart, fueling a political storm in India.
The Indian government, however, has insisted all along that it had nothing to do with Dassault’s decision to work with Reliance Defense.
Under Indian defense procurement rules, a foreign firm must invest at least 30 percent of the contract in India to help to build up its manufacturing base and wean off imports.
HAL was the sole contender for being the local partner of Dassault Aviation, but when the deal was sealed in 2015 during Modi’s Paris trip the Reliance Defense procured the contract .
“The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to ...Anil Ambani,” said Mr. Gandhi in a tweet.
Gandhi further tweeted: “The PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a ... SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defense forces. Modi Ji you dishonored the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India’s soul.”
Gandhi repeated the charge in a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.
The BJP, however, says that there is no corruption.
“The fact that two sovereign heads of States negotiated a deal means that there is no room for corruption,” said Sudesh Verma, BJP spokesperson.
Talking to Arab News Verma emphasized that “the highest integrity was maintained in the deal. Now the Congress is not talking of corruption but favoritism. Merely by saying that Reliance Defense was favored by us would not cut any ice. These are insinuations and are irresponsible.”
Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”
“No matter what the indian government says that perception is that the Indian government gave the offset contract to Anil Ambani, a guy who has no history of producing defense equipment,” says Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi based political analyst.
He added: “The halo around Modi has been severely diminished after the recent revelations. This is something which it would be very difficult to live it down now.”