Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar were released from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail on parole hours after his ailing wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz passed away in a London hospital on Tuesday.
All three were released on a 12-hour parole, which is likely to be extended till the burial of Begum Kulsoom at Jati Umra on Friday afternoon, on an order of the Punjab home department. The trio was escorted by police to the Nur Khan airbase from where they were flown to Lahore, Dawn reported.
• Funeral prayers in London tomorrow
• Body to be brought to Lahore on Friday for burial at Jati Umra
The application was filed by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif for their release for at least five days. Three rooms inside Jati Umra have been declared a sub-jail, DawnNewsTV reported.
Diagnosed with throat cancer in August last year, Begum Kulsoom was still undergoing treatment when she suffered cardiac arrest on June 15 and was rushed to a private hospital in London where she remained admitted since then. According to her family sources, her health deteriorated on Sunday night and she was placed on life support but she couldn’t be revived and breathed her last on Tuesday.
Shahbaz Sharif, PML-N president and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, on Wednesday morning departed for London on a Qatar Airways flight to attend her funeral prayers at the Regent's Park mosque on Thursday before bringing her body to Lahore.
Family sources told Dawn that Kulsoom's sons would not accompany her body to Lahore though her daughter, Asma, and grandson, Zikriya Sharif, would go with the casket to Pakistan.
Party sources in Lahore confirmed to the media that Begum Kulsoom would be laid to rest at the Jati Umra residence of the Sharif family. “A PIA flight carrying the body will arrive here on Friday morning and she is likely to be laid to rest the same day beside the grave of her father-in-law Mian Sharif at Jati Umra,” they said.
Condolences at Jati Umra
A large number of relatives, party leaders, workers, politicians and well-wishers have been visiting Jati Umra today to condole Kulsoom's death with the grieving family.
Media representatives are present in large numbers outside the house, however journalists are not being allowed inside.
She was an ideal lady for me: Hussain Nawaz
While talking to reporters in London on Wednesday, Hussain Nawaz said his mother was an "ideal lady" for him, and that she had set such high standards for human values in daily life that it became difficult for her children to meet them.
"We learned from her at every step till the moment she lived," Hussain said in a video shared by the PML-N. He said he used to seek guidance from her whenever he faced a problem.
"I have a lost a great friend [in her death]," he said. Hussain refused to comment on whether he would travel to Pakistan to attend Kulsoom's burial, requesting prayers for her instead.
Funeral preparations underway
The PML-N announced suspension of political activities for three days and started funeral preparations at Jati Umra where Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif’s mother Begum Shamim Akhtar and their late brother Abbas Sharif’s family reside.
While talking to reporters outside the private hospital on Harley Street in London on Tuesday, Hussain had announced: “My mother died at 11:15am (BST).” He said that during the last few weeks she made very good recovery. He said that her recovery not only helped the doctors to remove the ventilator but also allowed her to be shifted to a room. “But on Sunday night, her health deteriorated suddenly and she had to be put back on the life support machine. However, her condition didn’t improve and she left for her eternal abode today,” he said.
Her body was later shifted to the mortuary of Regent’s Park Mosque where, according to the family sources, her funeral prayers will be offered on Thursday after Zuhr.
In reply to a question about her funeral, Hussain said that arrangements were being worked out and the details would be released to the media as soon as they were finalised. “It is not a long time since she breathed her last. We are working on the arrangements for her funeral prayers and will inform the media soon,” he reiterated.
To condole with her sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, on her death, some party workers gathered outside the hospital where various TV channels of Pakistan did live transmissions.
Later in the evening, family sources confirmed to the media that Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s funeral prayers would be offered at the Regent's Park mosque on Thursday after Zuhr and her body would be flown to Lahore by a PIA flight the same evening after completion of legal formalities involving death certificate from the hospital and relevant permission from the coroner allowing the family to take the body out of the UK.
Relatives meet Nawaz, Maryam
Hours after her death, Shahbaz Sharif flew from Lahore to Rawalpindi and went straight from Benazir Bhutto International Airport to Adiala jail to meet his brother Nawaz and niece Maryam for condolence. He also discussed with the former premier matters pertaining to shifting of her body and their release on parole for her burial.
Shahbaz remained with his brother for about an hour and discussed the schedule of her burial before flying back to Lahore.
Other relatives Hamza Shahbaz, Maryam’s daughter Mehrun Nisa and son-in-law Raheel Munir, Suleman Shahbaz, and Abbas Sharif’s family members also visited the jail to condole with the daughter and spouse of Begum Kulsoom. Besides, some PML-N leaders including Senator Chaudhry Tanveer and former federal minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also met the Sharifs in the jail.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed to facilitate the shifting of the body for burial and release of Nawaz and Maryam on parole.
“The prime minister has already directed the relevant authorities to facilitate their release on parole in accordance with the law,” Chaudhry said and hinted that they could be released for 12 hours according to the law.
Meanwhile, it is yet to be decided whether Hassan and Hussain would return to attend the funeral prayers of their mother in Lahore. “No decision in this regard has been taken yet. Hassan and Hussain will themselves decide about their return to the country,” said former law minister of Punjab Rana Sanaullah. A source in the PML-N said it was unlikely that Nawaz’s sons would return in the face of corruption cases against them. “Both of them have already been declared proclaimed offenders, therefore, they will not be advised by their father to return,” he said.