Begum Kulsoom Nawaz passes away in London

Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, passed away here on Tuesday after battling cancer. Her brother-in-law, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif, and her son, Hussain Nawaz, confirmed that the former first lady breathed her last at a clinic in London.

Begum Kulsoom is survived by her husband and four children; Maryam, Asma, Hassan, and Hussain. 

The cancer-stricken wife of Sharif was under treatment at London’s Harley Street Clinic since June 2017. She was placed on life support last night as her health deteriorated.

Sources at the clinic said she had developed a complication in her lungs. “She had been responding well without the ventilator until last night,” the sources said.

Begum Kulsoom was diagnosed with lymphoma (throat) cancer in August 2017.

Further, sources at the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi said the former premier, his daughter Maryam, and son-in-law, Captain (retd) Safdar, had been informed about Begum Kulsoom's passing.

Her husband, daughter and son-in-law are currently serving a jail sentence in the Avenfield corruption case.

Begum Kulsoom was born in 1950 and was the granddaughter of world-renowned weight-lifter Ghulam Muhammad, known locally as Gaama Pahelwan.

She received her early education from Lahore’s Madrassa-tul-Banat and later enrolled at the Lady Griffin High School. For her undergraduate studies, she attended the Former Christian College in Lahore, and then completed a masters at the Punjab University. She was still studying when she married Nawaz Sharif, the son of a businessman, in 1971.

Begum Kulsoom became Pakistan's first lady thrice; from 1990 to 1993, from 1997 to 1999, and from 2013 to 2017. 

In September 2017, Begum Kulsoom, who was under treatment at this time, won the by-election from NA-120 Lahore, with her campaign being run by her daughter Maryam.

Begum Kulsoom to be laid to rest in Pakistan

The Sharif family has confirmed that Begum Kulsoom's body will be brought back to Pakistan and she will be laid to rest at Jati Umra in Lahore.

The Harley Street Clinic has issued a certificate of death or free from infection (FFI) certificate since Begum Kulsoom's body will be flown out of the United Kingdom.

After receiving the certificates, her family will register the death in a registrar office in the local Westminster Council. The coroner will then issue an out-of-England order, after which the body will be taken to Pakistan, sources said. 

Her family will instruct a funeral director today and the body will then be moved to a local mortuary, where it will be kept until the coroner issues the certificate, sources added. The funeral director will be responsible for keeping the body.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he was deeply saddened about her passing. The foreign minister tweeted the Pakistani High Commission in London had been instructed to facilitate the bereaved family in all possible ways. 

PM Imran, Army chief express grief

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed deep grief and sorrow over the demise of Begum Kulsoom.

In a statement, the prime minister said all facilities will be provided to the family and heirs of Begum Kulsoom as per law.

Army Chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa also expressed grief over Begum Kulsoom’s death and extended condolences to her family.

'Exemplary role'

Further, PML-N president and Nawaz's younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, said the party and Pakistan's democratic process are indebted to Begum Kulsoom.

"An era has come to an end," he said, adding: "She played an exemplary role as a mother, sister, daughter and wife."

The PML-N president continued: "She fought bravely in the most difficult times. "Her death is a huge loss and I am in shock," he stated.

The PML-N president visited in Adiala Jail to express his condolences with Sharif, Maryam, and Captain (retd) Safdar.

Pakistan High Commission's assistance refused

The Sharif family has refused to receive assistance from the Sharif family in shifting Begum Kulsoom's body to Pakistan. The family has maintained that it would make all the arrangement on its use.