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Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz dies in London after prolonged illness

Kulsoom Nawaz was diagnosed with cancer in August 2017. She was 68.

Updated: Sep 12, 2018 07:50:30

By Imtiaz Ahmad, Hindustan Times, Islamabad

Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, speaks during a news conference at her residence in Islamabad, Pakistan. (REUTERS File )

Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of deposed Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif, died in London on Tuesday of complications related to cancer.

Her death was confirmed by her brother-in-law Shehbaz Sharif. She is survived by her husband and four children, Hassan, Hussain, Maryam and Asma.

Kulsoom was put on life support on Tuesday as her health deteriorated on Monday night after she had developed a lung problem. The three-time former first lady was diagnosed with early-stage lymphoma in August last year and had been in London, where she underwent several surgeries and chemotherapy sessions.

She suffered a cardiac arrest and was placed on a ventilator in June. Her family reported a slight improvement in her condition on July 12, a day before Sharif and Maryam were set to return to Pakistan after an anti-corruption court sentenced them to jail.

Her death was condoled by Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa.

Kulsoom was seen as a pillar of strength for Sharif and unaffected by the controversies that engulfed him. A bitter note was that some politicians had alleged Kulsoom was faking her illness to get her husband off the hook. One such politician, Aitzaz Ahsan, apologised for his remarks on Tuesday.

She contested and won a parliamentary seat in Lahore, a traditional bastion of Sharif’s PML-N party after the constituency fell vacant following his disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case last year.

Kulsoom played a crucial role in the PML-N and ensured the party remained functional during the most difficult of times. She contested the seat in Lahore despite her failing health and secured 59,413 votes to defeated Yasmin Rashid of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

When Sharif went into exile in Saudi Arabia after the 1999 military coup led by Pervez Musharraf, Kulsoom took over reins of the PML-N and served as its president during 1999-2002.

Kulsoom was born into a Kashmiri family in Punjab province and graduated from Forman Christian College.

Leaders of all political parties – opponents and otherwise – sent their best wishes to Kulsoom while she was ill. Her sons Hassan and Hussain live in the UK and cared for her while Sharif and Maryam attended near daily hearings of corruption cases against them.

Kulsoom’s death poses a new challenge for the Imran Khan government - whether to allow Sharif and Maryam to attend her last rites.

Geo News reported Sharif, Maryam, and her husband Muhammad Safdar will be granted parole for the funeral and burial.

Hussain and Hasan will be unable to accompany their mother’s body as they are wanted in different cases in Pakistan and would be arrested on arrival, observers said.


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