Shahbaz joins Nawaz’s sons in London for Kulsoom’s funeral

LONDON/ LAHORE: As the Punjab government extended the parole of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law for five days allowing them to attend the last rites of his wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif along with his son Hamza Shahbaz arrived at London on Wednesday evening to take her body back to Lahore for burial at their Jati Umra residence on Friday.

Talking to the media at the airport, Mr Shahbaz paid tribute to Begum Kulsoom and said she was a brave lady who faced very difficult circumstances valiantly especially in 1999 when she was faced with the might of martial law. Regarding the release of the former premier, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar on parole, the PML-N president said that all the space available under the relevant law would be availed.

To condole her demise, PML-N and other political party workers visited the Sharif family residence at Avenfield House. Former Balochistan chief minister Sardar Sanaullah Zehri and Rasikh Elahi, son of Punjab Assembly speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, were prominent among the visitors. A PML-N leader told Dawn that Begum Kulsoom’s funeral would also be held in London’s Regent’s Park mosque on Thursday at 12.15pm (BST) before the one for which arrangements were being made in Lahore. “Namaz-i-Janaza is being held in London, because her sons Hasan and Hussain cannot come to Pakistan,” he said.

Punjab govt extends parole of Sharifs for five days; another funeral in Sharif Medical Complex tomorrow

The family sources confirmed that her body had been shifted to the mortuary of Regent Park mosque in Central London for funeral after which her casket would be flown to Lahore on a PIA flight (PK758) which would leave the Heathrow Airport at 6.15pm (BST). They said the family had received a death certificate issued by the private hospital, where Begum Kulsoom Nawaz died on Tuesday, and the “out-of-England” letter from the coroner’s court, paving the way for the departure of her body for Lahore on Thursday evening.

Maryam Nawaz accepting condolences after her mother's death, at her Lahore Jati Umra residence— DawnNews TV
Maryam Nawaz accepting condolences after her mother's death, at her Lahore Jati Umra residence— DawnNews TV

Begum Kulsoom will be laid to rest at Jati Umra near the graves of her father-in-law Mian Sharif and brother-in-law Abbas Sharif on Friday.

Diagnosed with lymphoma (throat) cancer in August last year, Begum Kulsoom underwent several surgeries before she suffered cardiac arrest in mid-June and since then she remained admitted to hospital. On Sept 11, she breathed her last.

In Lahore, PML-N leaders and workers including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khurram Dastagir, Malik Pervaiz, Saad Rafique, Ameer Muqam, Ali Pervaiz, Uzma Bokhari and Rana Mohammad Iqbal visited Jati Umra on Wednesday to condole the death of Kulsoom Nawaz with the grieving family.

However, they could not get a chance to condole with Nawaz Sharif. Before his departure for London, Mr Shahbaz’s son, Hamza, met those coming to condole the death of the former first lady. Talking to reporters, Mr Hamza said Begum Kulsoom was like a mother to him and a vacuum created after her death would not be filled.

Regarding reports that Nawaz Sharif did not see the visitors because he was not well, PML-N leader and former federal information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said: “That was not the case. Mian sahib was shattered and tired but he met relatives. On Thursday, he will meet the political leaders and workers between 4pm and 6pm. Similarly, Maryam Bibi also met relatives.”

She also dismissed media reports attributed to Maryam Nawaz after her release on parole from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail. “I just want to clarify that Maryam Bibi has not issued any statement after her release on parole or in the jail,” she added.

She said Begum Kulsoom’s funeral would be held at the Sharif Medical City, adjacent to Jati Umra residence, on Friday at 5pm. Congregational prayers (Rasm-i-Qul) for her would be offered on Sunday between Asr and Maghreb, she added.

Earlier, a controversy surrounded the parole extension granted by the Punjab government as the Punjab cabinet reportedly approved the home department’s summary regarding a five-day parole of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law while Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan told reporters at the Lahore Press Club that the government had extended their parole only till the funeral of Begum Kulsoom.

When asked if the government had extended the Sharif family members’ parole for three or five days, Mr Chohan said: “The government has extended their parole till the funeral of Begum Kulsoom.”

Shahbaz Sharif had sought five days’ parole for the Sharif family members so that they could attend the last rituals of Begum Kulsoom.

“Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has forwarded the summary of the home department to the cabinet for approval regarding a five-day parole for Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar,” a senior official of the Punjab government later confirmed to Dawn.

He said the summary was likely to be approved since the chief minister had forwarded it to the cabinet in accordance with the law.

The Sharifs were released from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail in the early hours of Wednesday morning on 12-hour parole, which was later extended by the Punjab government for five days on an application of Mr Shahbaz. The Sharifs had been sent to jail by an accountability court weeks before the July 25 general elections in Avenfield property reference.

Earlier during the day, PML-N MPA Hina Pervaiz Butt submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly to pay tribute to Begum Kulsoom.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2018

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