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September 14, 2018
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Emotional tribute paid to Kulsoom at London funeral

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September 14, 2018

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LONDON: Funeral prayers for Begum Kulsoom Nawaz were offered at the Regents Park Mosque (Islamic Cultural Centre) here ahead of her body’s departure to Pakistan from Heathrow Airport for burial in Lahore today (Friday).

Around one thousand mourners attended the funeral including former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, former finance minister Ishaq Dar, former Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar, Kulsoom Nawaz’ sons, Hasan and Hussain Nawaz, former federal minister Berjees Tahir, former AJK prime minister Chaudhary Abdul Majeed, PTI London President Barrister Waheed Mian and representatives of religious and political parties.

Kulsoom Nawaz was treated in London for cancer for about a year but lost battle despite getting the best medical treatment and staying on ventilator for most part of the last three months of her life. She was 68. The three-time first lady was diagnosed with cancer in August 2017, and suffered a heart attack on June 14 – two days before Eidul Fitr.

Emotional scenes were witnessed as the coffin was brought to the central hall of the mosque for prayers as Shahbaz Sharif and sons of Kulsoom Nawaz cried. Chauhdry Nisar, who has been in London for around two weeks, came to the mosque with Ishaq Dar and Shahbaz Sharif and left them at the end of the prayers.

The former premier’s sons, Hassan and Hussain, would not travel to Pakistan for their mother’s funeral due to cases against them.

The central hall was filled to the capacity despite confusion about timing of the prayers. The funeral prayers were offered ahead of Zuhr prayers and the body was immediately taken to the Heathrow Airport at the conclusion of the prayers.

A large number of people turned up late believing that funeral prayers would be offered after Zuhr prayers – an hour after the funeral prayers.

Outside the mosque, there was a brief traffic jam as activists marched with the funeral ambulance – carrying Kulsoom Nawaz’s body – and chanted slogans Mathr-e-Jamhooriat Alwida (farewell to the mother of democracy): a reference to Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’ gallant struggle for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan.

Workers paid emotional tribute to Kulsoom Nawaz and raised slogans to appreciate her. They said that Kulsoom Nawaz had special place in their hearts because she stood up for Nawaz Sharif when not many were there to confront Pervez Musharraf’s regime. She faced isolation, imprisonment and threats but didn’t waver in her resolve and continued to campaign for her husband.

When Nawaz and Maryam Sharif left London for Pakistan in July, they knew they faced lengthy jail terms and would unlikely to see Ms Nawaz again.

Soon after reaching London late on Wednesday night to take the body of Kulsoom Nawaz to Lahore for burial, Shahbaz Sharif paid tribute to her sister-in-law and called her fearless and loyal who knew how to stand up for her beliefs.

He said that she was a person of substance, passion and ideals and was like a rock to Nawaz Sharif. He said that Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were shattered after coming to know that she had passed away.

Shahbaz Sharif confirmed that Nawaz Sharif refused to sign request for release on parole and didn’t want to ask the government for it. “I signed the parole papers after Nawaz Sharif refused to sign,” he confirmed.

Shahbaz Sharif said that Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were victims of “highest form of injustice and repression”. He said that the accountability court verdict made it clear on page 171 that Nawaz Sharif had been acquitted of all corruption charges as the prosecution failed to bring any evidence of corruption against him.

“Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz faced 109 court appearances but no corruption was found anywhere. It’s height of injustice that he’s in jail,” said Shahbaz Sharif, hoping that Allah will do justice and Nawaz Sharif will get out of jail.

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