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National

TB
Tariq Butt
August 13, 2017

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Kulsoom forced to rescue spouse second time

Kulsoom forced to rescue spouse second time

ISLAMABAD: After seventeen years, former first lady and spouse of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz has been forced once again to be active in politics owing to her husband’s Supreme Court-sanctioned disqualification.

She has jumped in an ostensible fierce electoral clash in NA-120, the constituency that her spouse always won with flying colours whenever he fought for it since 1985. In the 2002 and 2008 general elections, he could not vie for it for being in exile or due to his ineligibility but his nominees clinched the seat with impressive leads.

For the first time, Begum Kulsoom aggressively took part in politics to rescue her spouse and other members of her family, incarcerated by Pervez Musharraf after imposing martial law in October 1999.

For next fourteen months, she boldly put up a grand defiance, taking on the dictator vociferously.

At the time, she was the only top opposition leader in the field, spurning the unconstitutional rule, despite holding no office of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). That was her solo flight. During that time, she had persisted with her relentless struggle to expose Musharraf’s unconstitutionality and illegality.

As Begum Kulsoom, Nawaz Sharif and their entire family were exiled to Saudi Arabia on December 10, 2000, she absolutely went in the background and her presence was seen only during her spouse’s foreign visits. Not a single political statement or comment was ever heard for the next seventeen years as the projects of politics was run by her husband, Shahbaz Sharif and other members of her family. Over the past four years when Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister, she was also never publicly found uttering a word on political or party matters.

Even now she was not PML-N’s first preference for the by-poll. She was brought in only after the party decided that Shahbaz Sharif will stay in Punjab as the chief minister as it did not want to loosen its grip over the majority province.

Otherwise a quiet and calm looking lady, Begum Kulsoom will now have to do a lot of public speaking to run her campaign in the vital by-election. Obviously, she will not be alone in spearheading the electioneering as she will be immensely assisted by Nawaz Sharif and some other PML-N leaders.

The timing of the by-poll is extremely crucial for being organized in the wake of a lingering vicious campaign against Nawaz Sharif following the Panama Papers disclosures. He faced a tough time during proceedings in the Supreme Court for several months. Similarly, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) grilled him and other members of his family for two months. It was argued that all this will damage the ousted prime minister.

In the 2013 general elections, Nawaz Sharif had won the totally urban NA-120 seat of Lahore with a margin of 39,329 votes defeating Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) nominee Dr Yasmeen Rashed who had bagged 52,354 votes compared to his 91,683 ballots. Again, she has been sponsored by her party in the by-election.

The voting pattern will determine how far the protracted malicious campaign against the ex-premier spanning four years has adversely impacted his popular appeal in his home constituency where he was born, brought up and studied. His detractors always thought that his disqualification and the Panama case have severely damaged him and the PTI’s uninterrupted movement against him has helped it gain a lot. However, contrary to this view it is generally believed that Nawaz Sharif’s ineligibility has buoyed up his political stature and this impression was reinforced by his massive reception during his extensive journey in a cavalcade via the GT Road from Islamabad to Lahore.

Indeed, the PTI’s defeat will demoralize it further and it will be proved that the Panama drama finally flopped having no impact on the electorate and having not dented the PML-N’s vote-bank. But in the case of an upset, the PTI’s victory will tremendously encourage it.  However, the result of the NA-120 by-election will not change the numerical scenario in the National Assembly because the PML-N has a strong grip over it. But it will have far-reaching political implications for both the major contenders. It will also be seen where the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which has also jumped in the clash, stand now.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan is anxious to personally run Dr Yasmin Rashed’s campaign but he can’t for being a federal legislator. All the members of the national and provincial assemblies are barred by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take part in this exercise. However, Nawaz Sharif faces no such restriction after having been unseated as federal lawmaker. Already, the ECP had issued notices to Imran Khan and Hamza Shahbaz Sharif for spearheading campaigns in different by-polls. The ECP doesn’t relent in this regard and immediately moves to stop any such violation of its code.

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