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Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has made a telephone call to ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif to convey his wishes for the health of the former premier's wife Kulsoom Nawaz, who has been diagnosed with throat cancer.

During the call, Gen Bajwa "expressed his best wishes and prayers for [the] health of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif", Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Former first lady Kulsoom Nawaz was diagnosed with cancer while undergoing medical tests in London.

Her younger son Hassan Nawaz confirmed her ailment. Being in initial stages, the disease is curable, a leader of the ruling PML-N on Tuesday quoted him as saying from London.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan as well as party leaders Shireen Mazari and Asad Umar wished Kulsoom an early recovery in the fight against cancer.

"I wish her the best as she fights this disease and pray she wins her battle against cancer," Khan wrote on Twitter.

Kulsoom is PML-N’s candidate in the by-election for the National Assembly seat NA-120, Lahore-III, which fell vacant after the de-seating of her husband, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, as a result of the July 28 Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers case.

Kulsoom to run in election despite illness

State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb has said Kulsoom will run for the NA-120 by-election despite having been diagnosed with cancer.

Aurangzeb said the ex-premier's wife is being treated at a London hospital and plans to return to Pakistan for the vote next month.

The minister told The Associated Press that Kulsoom has an early stage of the cancer and called her a “courageous woman”.

Kulsoom had played a key role in rescuing her husband and the party after the coup by then army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

At a time when all men of the family had been incarcerated by the Musharraf regime and the party’s leaders had either gone into hiding or become inactive, Kulsoom came out all alone and, as the PML-N president, led a campaign that mobilised the activists and eventually forced the government to release her family.

Before and after the period between 1999 and 2002, she opted to remain in the background and did not join active politics whether her husband was the prime minister (1990-93, 1997-99 and 2013-17) or in the opposition.

Because of her ailment, she may not be able to run her election campaign. The polling will be held on Sept 17.

In her absence, her daughter Maryam Nawaz will be overseeing the electioneering as MNA Hamza Shahbaz, who has so far been the lead strategist for the by-polls held in Punjab, also left for London.