LONDON/LAHORE: Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, passed away on Tuesday after battling cancer.
Begum Kulsoom was under treatment at London's Harley Street Clinic since June 2017 after being diagnosed with lymphoma (throat) cancer. She was placed on life support on Monday 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. Sources at the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi said Nawaz, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt Safdar had been informed about the tragic loss.
Begum Kulsoom, born in 1950, was the granddaughter of world-renowned weight-lifter Ghulam Muhammad, known locally as Gaama Pehalwan. 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 FC College in Lahore, and then completed her masters at the Punjab University. She was still studying when she married Nawaz in 1971.
She became Pakistan's first lady thrice; first from 1990 to 1993, then from 1997 to 1999, and again from 2013 to 2017. In September 2017, she won the by-election from NA-120 Lahore. Begum Nawaz was under treatment at this time and her campaign was run by her daughter Maryam.
Begum Kulsoom had been at her husband’s side throughout his decades-long political career, which saw him become the prime minister of Pakistan three times while facing military coups, prison and exile. For years Begum Kulsoom stayed out of politics, focusing on the couple’s family and home life.
But after Nawaz was firstbecome the prime minister of Pakistan three times while facing military coups, prison and exile. For years Begum Kulsoom stayed out of politics, focusing on the couple’s family and home life.
But after Nawaz was first imprisoned following a military coup in 1999, Begum Kulsoom stepped into the limelight. She took over the leadership of the party, defying house arrest to attend street rallies standing up to military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf courageously and demanding her husband’s release. Nawaz was eventually allowed to go into exile in Saudi Arabia in 2007.
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 on Friday. Her body has been kept at the Regent Park mortuary in London. Sources said her funeral prayers are expected to be offered on Thursday, after which the body would be sent to Pakistan.
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.