Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, passed away in London on Tuesday after suffering from complications related to cancer.
President of PML-N Shehbaz Sharif confirmed the passing of Kulsoom and said “My sister-in-law and wife of Mian Nawaz Sharif, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, is no longer with us.”
Hospitalised for eight months at Hartley clinic in the British capital, reports on Tuesday morning said her health deteriorated further and she was placed back on the ventilator. Nawaz and daughter Maryam were informed by jail authorities of the former first lady’s demise.
Sons Hassan and Hussain are reportedly making arrangements for the funeral and former finance minister Ishaq Dar and a close aide of the Sharif family are present along with Nawaz’s sons at the medical facility.
Prime Minister Imran Khan offered his condolences on Begum Kulsoom’s demise and said that incarcerated members of the Sharif family will be facilitated in whichever way the law allows, said a press statement issued by the Prime Minister Office read. The government will also reach out to the Pakistani High Commissioner in the United Kingdom to facilitate Sharif family members there.
Begum Kulsoom contested and won NA-120, a traditional bastion of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) after the seat fell vacant following Nawaz’s disqualification by the Supreme Court (SC) in the Panama Papers case.
Crucial to the PML-N, Begum Kulsoom ensured the party remained functional during the most difficult of times. She contested for the NA-120 by-poll despite failing health and secured 59,413 votes against Yasmin Rashid of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
During her husband’s exile after the 1999 military coup, Begum Kulsoom took over reins of the party and served as its president from 1999 to 2002. Referring to her mother, Maryam Nawaz had said that she had dauntlessly challenged a usurper when “most men did not”.
She was born into a Kashmiri family in Punjab and graduated from Forman Christian College. Nawaz and Begum Kulsoom married in 1971 and had four children; Hassan, Hussain, Maryam and Asma.
On August 23, 2017, UK doctors confirmed that Kulsoom was suffering from cancer and was shifted to London for medical care. Since then, Nawaz and Maryam have been making trips back and forth to visit ailing Kulsoom. On June 15, she was placed on a ventilator after suffering a cardiac arrest.
All political leaders – opponents and otherwise – sent in their best wishes for Kulsoom during the length of her illness. Sons Hassan and Hussain reside in the UK and cared for her while Nawaz and Maryam attended hearings of the corruption trial.