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September 12, 2018

Speaking to Nawaz Sharif just before he lost his wife

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September 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD: In my presence at the Accountability Court on Tuesday, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was informed by one of his assistants about the deteriorating health condition of his wife Begum Kulsoom, who within a few hours' time passed away at a London hospital.

This news was clearly distressful for Mian Sahib, but nobody knew at the time that the day would later bring the worst-ever news of his life.

I was sitting next to Nawaz Sharif and found him reluctant to share the news of his wife’s deteriorating condition. Without losing his composure, he quietly asked his assistant to immediately talk to his son Husain and return with updated news of Begum Kulsoom’s health condition. Perhaps he feared that once he was driven back to jail, he would not be able to make further inquires.

A few minutes later, the assistant returned and told Nawaz Sharif that he just spoken to Husain, who informed him that Begum Sahiba had been put back on a ventilator and was in a critical condition. Being sat next to Mian Sahib, I overheard the conversation. But he did not discuss what he had just heard. I asked him if he had been given the opportunity to talk to his wife. Yes, he said, but rarely and only for a short duration.

To my query about his own health condition, he said, “Allah ka shukar hai” (Thanks to Allah). He told me that Maryum and Safdar were also fine, “Alhamdulillah”. Asked whether the three imprisoned family members - including daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar - met at the Adiala jail, he said they were only allowed to interact on Thursdays, during their routine weekly meeting with visitors.

Prior to the arrival of the accountability judge, erstwhile advisor Tariq Fatemi had briefed Nawaz Sharif about how special advisor Abdul Razzak Dawood’s reported interview to the Financial Times had generated controversy over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Before he was told about the condition of his wife, the jailed former thrice-elected prime minister of Pakistan shared with this correspondent his surprise over how he, his daughter and son-in-law were convicted and imprisoned. He wondered how it had happened when no corruption had been proven against him. Instead, they were made to face more cases.

When this correspondent reached the Islamabad office of The News, after attending the accountability court proceedings, Geo was broadcasting breaking news about a National Accountability Bureau letter seeking details of properties owned by Safdar, his jailed wife Maryam, their son and two daughters. Somehow, the list excluded missed the name of Safar, Maryam’s infant granddaughter. Within an hour, however, the sad news of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz's death replaced it as the lead story of the day.

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