Monday Nov 23, 2020
LONDON: The funeral of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's mother, Begum Shamim Akhtar, is slated to be held at the London Central Mosque — alternatively known as Regent's Park Mosque — but the number of participants have been limited to 30 under the United Kingdom's coronavirus guidelines.
However, the funeral cannot not take place until the Westminster Magistrates' Court coroner issued the death certificate.
A source in the Sharif family told Geo.tv that the funeral arrangements at Regent's Park Mosque would be made after the death certificate was issued but due to the coronavirus lockdown, restrictions were causing delay in the required processes.
Offices in the United Kingdom were closed; therefore, the only mode of communication to the coroner's office was through emails and limited phone contact, the source said.
"It’s taking more than the usual time to get the certificates arranged as counter services are no more available. We are hoping to have these certificates issued by late Monday or Tuesday," they said.
"Once we have these certificates, then the Namaz-e-Janaza [funeral prayers] will be offered at the Regent’s Park Mosque,” the source added.
The Sharif family was also waiting for a repatriation clearance from the Westminster Magistrates' Court coroner in order for the body of Nawaz Sharif’s mother to be taken to Pakistan for burial in Jati Umrah.
An official at Regent's Park Mosque who declined to be named said the Sharif family's representatives had been in touch with the administration.
"We have told the family that only 30 people are allowed for funeral prayers under the UK government guidelines during the [coronavirus] pandemic," the official told Geo.tv.
"The family will provide us a list of the funeral participants and only those in the list will be able to enter the mosque,” they noted.
Begum Shamim Akhtar, 89, who was suffering from severe chest pain and worsening dementia, had passed away Sunday afternoon at the Avenfield apartments, where she was staying with her son, Nawaz Sharif.
The body had been transferred to the London Central Mosque's mortuary late Sunday night after the coroner and local police spent about three hours at the Sharif family's apartment to complete paperwork to determine the cause of death and other legal requirements.
On Monday, family members had gathered at the Park Lane apartments to offer prayers for the deceased. Relatives of Shahbaz Sharif, Begum Shamim Akhtar's other son and former chief minister of Punjab, were the first to arrive, followed by those of Ishaq Dar, Abid Sher Ali, and others.
In Pakistan, Maryam Nawaz — Nawaz Sharif's daughter and PML-N Vice President — had abruptly left the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rally in Peshawar where she was to speak with the participants after she was told her grandmother had passed away in London.
"My brothers, sisters, and elders of Peshawar... I had wished to speak here today... I had come here to meet you all," she had said. "However, I was just informed that my paternal grandmother has passed away in London.
"So, I apologise to you all that I was unable to speak to you today, I request you to please pray for my grandmother — who has met her Creator — and to pray for Mian sahab's health and life," Maryam Nawaz had said before leaving.
In London, however, around 50 political workers of the PML-N had also gathered outside the Sharif family's residence after news of Begum Shamim Akhtar’s passing broke. Only close family members were able to enter the flats due to the rules in place.