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.
Sad to learn of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz's death. She was a courageous woman of great dignity and confronted her disease with fortitude. My condolences and prayers go to the Sharif family.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) September 11, 2018
“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.