Nawaz Sharif's wife Kulsoom Nawaz laid to rest
LAHORE, Pakistan (Dawn/ANN) - Thousands of PML-N supporters, well-wishers and politicians gathered to pay their respects to the three-time first lady and offer funeral prayers, which were held in the grounds of Sharif Medical City, adjacent to the Sharif family's Jati Umra residence.
Begum Kulsoom Nawaz was laid to rest at Jati Umra, the Sharif family residence in Lahore, near the graves of her father-in-law Mian Sharif and brother-in-law Abbas Sharif, on Friday.
Her funeral prayers, led by Maulana Tariq Jameel, were offered at a ground at Sharif Medical City around 5:30pm, after which her body was transported to Jati Umra.
Begum Kulsoom, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in August last year, had passed away in London on September 11.
Thousands of PML-N supporters, well-wishers and politicians gathered to pay their respects to the three-time first lady and offer funeral prayers, which were held in the grounds of Sharif Medical City, adjacent to the Sharif family's Jati Umra residence.
Security at the ground was high, and barbed wire was used to separate the high-profile attendees from ordinary citizens. Despite these measures, television footage showed politicians being jostled by the crowd as they were led to their places.
A protective human chain was formed around Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and Maulana Tariq Jameel once they arrived so that the funeral prayers could be offered.
Former president Mamnoon Hussain, former law minister Rana Sanaullah, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Javed Hashmi, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Punjab Housing Minister Mehmoodur Rasheed, former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi, MQM leaders Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Farooq Sattar, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, and Saudi officials were among the attendees.
Congregational prayers (Rasm-i-Qul) for Begum Kulsoom will be offered on Sunday between Asr and Maghreb, a spokesperson had said earlier.
Begum Kulsoom's casket reached the provincial capital this morning on PIA flight PK-758 from London. Her body was received by members of the Sharif family, including Hamza Shahbaz, and was later transported to Jati Umra via ambulance.
Explore: At Sharif home, an outpouring of sympathy
Funeral prayers had previously been offered for Begum Kulsoom at London's Regent Park mosque on Thursday, where hundreds of people had showed up to pay their respects. The funeral had been arranged since Kulsoom's sons, Hasan and Hussain, decided against travelling to Pakistan.
Other members of the Sharif family, including Asma, Nawaz and Kulsoom's daughter, Shahbaz Sharif, and Zikriya Sharif, were in attendance at the funeral in London, alongside others such as former finance minister Ishaq Dar and former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar.
Sources said the family had received a death certificate issued by the private hospital where Begum Kulsoom Nawaz breathed her last on Tuesday, and the "out-of-England" letter from the coroner’s court, paving the way for the departure of her body to Lahore this evening.
Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Safdar, who were all sentenced to jail by an accountability court weeks before the July 25 polls in the Avenfield property reference, were granted parole by the Punjab government on an application moved by Shahbaz in order to attend Begum Kulsoom's funeral.
The Punjab Home Department later announced an extension in the short 12-hour parole for an additional five days, from Sept 12 (4pm) to September 17 (4pm). The time does not include the time it takes to travel.
Nawaz oversees funeral arrangements in Lahore
Also on Thursday, Nawaz Sharif paid a visit to Sharif Medical City to oversee arrangements for his deceased wife's last rites.
The former prime minister directed that all arrangements for the funeral be complete so that everyone is able to comfortably offer the funeral prayers. "There should not be any kind of issue in Sharif Medical City," he had said.
He was accompanied on the visit by his son-in-law retired captain Muhammad Safdar, grandson Junaid Safdar, and nephew Salman Shahbaz. During the course of this visit, Nawaz met some PML-N leaders at Sharif Medical City.
Condolences offered for Begum Kulsoom
To condole her demise, PML-N and other political party workers have been visiting the Sharif family residence at Avenfield House in London and Jati Umra in Lahore since Wednesday.
Former Balochistan chief minister Sardar Sanaullah Zehri and Rasikh Elahi, son of Punjab Assembly speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, were prominent among the visitors in London.
In Lahore, political leaders and workers including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khurram Dastagir, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, Malik Pervaiz, Saad Rafique, Ameer Muqam, Ali Pervaiz, Uzma Bokhari and Rana Mohammad Iqbal visited Jati Umra to offer their condolences.
Regarding reports that Nawaz Sharif did not see the visitors on Wednesday because he was unwell, 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."
Hamza Shahbaz met those arriving at Jati Umra to condole the death of the former first lady.
Former president Mamnoon Hussain also called on Nawaz on Thursday and offered his condolences to the PML-N quaid.
Former president Mamnoon Hussain also called on Nawaz and offered condolences on the demise of Begum Kulsoom.
Begum Kulsoom, a woman of substance
Begum Kulsoom served as first lady of Pakistan in her husband's three non-consecutive terms as prime minister from 1990-1993, 1997-1999 and 2013-2017.
Born in 1950 in Lahore to a Kashmiri family, Begum Kulsoom attended Islamia College and graduated from the Forman Christian College in Lahore. She received a Master's degree in Urdu from Punjab University in 1970.
She married Nawaz Sharif in 1971, and served as the president of the PML-N from 1999 to 2002, after her husband's government was dismissed by former president Pervez Musharraf, and nearly all the Sharif family's men were jailed.
Both mother and daughter were also placed under house arrest following Nawaz's dismissal by Musharraf.
Begum Kulsoom led defiant, lonely protests against the Musharraf regime to get her husband freed from prison.
On July 9, 2000, she slipped through a police cordon that had been placed around her Model Town home the previous night to bar her from leading a protest rally against Gen Pervez Musharraf. Her ‘escape’ led to a car chase that ended when the police finally intercepted the car on Canal Road.
But the former first lady refused to leave the car. She locked it and made it known that she was going nowhere. Eventually, it was an overhead crane summoned to salvage the situation that bodily lifted the car and took it to a police compound nearby. The standoff lasted around 10 hours.
This moment when she sat suspended in midair was the high point in Begum Kulsoom’s short but eventful political career that started soon after Gen Musharraf, with the help of other generals close to him, ousted Nawaz Sharif.
That eventful day in 2000, she created an image of resistance, bringing the PML-N out of the shadow of the establishment.
"There are two chapters of resistance in the history of the PML-N. The second one is this period since Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court in July 2017. But the original one was written under the stewardship of Begum Kulsoom. Until she started challenging the military dictator, this aspect of the party was hidden from public view," argued a political commentator who wishes to remain anonymous.
"I wonder if it would have been possible to write the second chapter of resistance if she hadn’t written the first," said the commentator.
But once she had done her job, Begum Kulsoom slowly withdrew from public view. She was nowhere to be seen during Nawaz Sharif’s third term in office even though her assessment of political matters and people was considered flawless in the Sharif household. "She was a typical eastern woman who would do anything to protect her family," says journalist Suhail Warraich.
She never, however, refused to play a role whenever she was called upon. Over the last 30 years, she had stood by her husband and advised him on various government affairs. Party leaders have also said that she occasionally wrote many of Nawaz's speeches.
In a 2012 interview with Newsweek, Maryam had said her mother "dauntlessly challenged the usurper when a lot of men backed out... She’s contributed famously to my father’s life and to democracy in Pakistan."
She is credited with convincing her husband to allow Maryam to enter politics.