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.


Thousands rally in support of Hong Kong police

Updated 20 July 2019
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Thousands rally in support of Hong Kong police

  • Hong Kong has been rocked by more than a month of huge and largely peaceful protests
  • Demonstrators and rights groups have accused riot police of using excessive force, including tear gas and rubber bullets, and public anger against the force is boiling over

HONG KONG: Tens of thousands of people rallied in support of Hong Kong’s police and pro-Beijing leadership on Saturday, a vivid illustration of the polarization coursing through the city after weeks of anti-government demonstrations.
Hong Kong has been rocked by more than a month of huge and largely peaceful protests — as well as a series of separate violent confrontations with police — sparked by a proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China and other countries.
The bill has since been suspended, but that has done little to quell public anger which has evolved into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms, universal suffrage and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous financial hub.
Saturday’s rally was a moment for the establishment to muster their own supporters.
A predominantly older crowd was joined by families and younger residents, waving Chinese flags and holding banners supporting the police.
“Friends who used violence say they love Hong Kong too, but we absolutely cannot approve of their way of expressing themselves,” said Sunny Wong, 42, who works in insurance.
A 60-year-old woman surnamed Leung said protesters who stormed and vandalized the legislature earlier this month must be held responsible for their acts.
“I really dislike people using violence on others... it was so extreme,” Leung said.
Police estimated a turnout of 103,000 people at the peak of the rally, while local media cited organizers as saying 316,000 attended.
Hong Kong’s police are in the midst of a major reputational crisis.
With no political solution on the table from the city’s pro-Beijing leaders, the police have become enmeshed in a seemingly intractable cycle of clashes with protesters who have continued to hit the streets in huge numbers for six weeks.
Demonstrators and rights groups have accused riot police of using excessive force, including tear gas and rubber bullets, and public anger against the force is boiling over.
Police insist their crowd control responses have been proportionate and point to injured officers as proof that a hardcore minority of protesters mean them harm.
Some of the most violent clashes occurred last Sunday when riot police battled protesters hurling projectiles inside a luxury mall. Some 28 people were injured, including 10 officers.
There is growing frustration among the police force’s exhausted rank and file that neither the city’s leaders, nor Beijing, seem to have any idea how to end the crisis.
Chinese state media and powerful pro-Beijing groups threw their weight behind the pro-police rally.
Saturday’s edition of Hong Kong’s staunchly pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao ran a front page encouraging readers to join with the headline: “Kick away the violence.”
It featured a drawing of a large foot kicking over a pro-democracy demonstrator.
Many of those at the rally held aloft large slogans printed on the spread of Wen Wei Po, another stridently pro-Beijing newspaper in the city.
A rally last month by police supporters saw ugly scenes, with many participants hurling insults and scuffling with younger democracy protesters as well as media covering the gathering.
While the pro-government protests have mustered decent crowds, they have paled in comparison with the huge pro-democracy marches that have regularly drawn hundreds of thousands of people.
Anti-government protesters are planning another large march Sunday afternoon and say they have no plan to back down until key demands are met.
Tensions were also raised after police on Saturday said they had discovered a homemade laboratory making high-powered explosives. A 27-year-old man was arrested and pro-independence materials were also discovered.
Under the 1997 handover deal with Britain, China promised to allow Hong Kong to keep key liberties such as its independent judiciary and freedom of speech.
But many say that 50-year deal is already being curtailed, citing the disappearance into mainland custody of dissident booksellers, the disqualification of prominent politicians and the jailing of pro-democracy protest leaders.
Authorities have also resisted calls for the city’s leader to be directly elected by the people.