• Funeral prayers in London tomorrow
• Body to be brought to Lahore on Friday for burial at Jati Umra
FORMER prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar were released from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail on parole hours after his ailing wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz passed away in a London hospital on Tuesday.
All three were released on 12-hour parole, which is likely to be extended till the burial of Begum Kulsoom at Jati Umra on Friday afternoon, on an order of the Punjab home department and were escorted by police to the Nur Khan airbase from where they were being taken to Lahore.
The application was filed by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif for their release for at least five days. Sources in the government said the Punjab government would extend the parole period till the burial of Begum Kulsoom in Jati Umra Lahore residence of the Sharif family.
The PML-N, they said, might file another application with the government to declare Jati Umra residence a sub-jail.
Diagnosed with throat cancer in August last year, Begum Kulsoom was still undergoing treatment when she suffered cardiac arrest on June 15 and was rushed to a private hospital in London where she remained admitted since then. According to her family sources, her health deteriorated on Sunday night and she was placed on life support but she couldn’t be revived and breathed her last on Tuesday.
The family sources said Shahbaz Sharif, PML-N president and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, and his son Hamza Shahbaz would fly to London to attend her funeral prayers at the Regent Park mosque on Thursday before shifting her body to Lahore. It was also confirmed that her sons would not accompany her body to Lahore though her daughter, Asma, and grandson, Zikriya Sharif, would go with the casket to Pakistan.
Later, party sources in Lahore confirmed to the media that Begum Kulsoom would be laid to rest at the Jati Umra residence of the Sharif family. “A PIA flight carrying the body will arrive here on Friday morning and she is likely to be laid to rest the same day beside the grave of her father-in-law Mian Sharif at Jati Umra,” they said.
The PML-N announced suspension of political activities for three days and started funeral preparations at Jati Umra where Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif’s mother Begum Shamim Akhtar and their late brother Abbas Sharif’s family reside.
While talking to reporters earlier outside the private hospital on Harley Street in London, her son, Hussain Nawaz, said: “My mother died at 11.15am (BST).” He said that during the last few weeks she made very good recovery. He said that her recovery not only helped the doctors to remove the ventilator but also allowed her to be shifted to a room. “But on Sunday night, her health deteriorated suddenly and she had to be put back on the life support machine. However, her condition didn’t improve and she left for her eternal abode today,” he said.
Her body was later shifted to the mortuary of Regent’s Park Mosque where, according to the family sources, her funeral prayers will be offered on Thursday after Zuhr.
In reply to a question about her funeral, Mr Hussain said that arrangements were being worked out and the details would be released to the media as soon as they were finalised. “It is not a long time since she breathed her last. We are working on the arrangements for her funeral prayers and will inform the media soon,” he reiterated.
To condole with her sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, on her death, some party workers gathered outside the hospital where various TV channels of Pakistan did live transmissions.
Later in the evening, family sources confirmed to the media that Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s funeral prayers would be offered at the Regent Park mosque on Thursday after Zuhr and her body would be flown to Lahore by a PIA flight the same evening after completion of legal formalities involving death certificate from the hospital and relevant permission from the coroner allowing the family to take the body out of the UK.
A life-long regret for Nawaz, Maryam
A regret which may continue to haunt Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam for the rest of their lives is not seeing Begum Kulsoom Nawaz when she temporarily regained consciousness last month after being on a life-support machine for about two months in a London hospital.
“My father and I have great regret that when my mother regained consciousness last month we were not there with her. To add insult to injury, my father was allowed to speak to her (on telephone) once a week for a limited time due to the jail restrictions. Once she asked why I didn’t visit her or speak to her (via Skype) so that she could see my face,” former information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said quoting Maryam Nawaz.
“What would my mother have been thinking... have they (Nawaz and Maryam) got so busy (in politics) that they don’t have time for her. Perhaps this regret may continue to haunt me for the rest of my life,” Ms Aurangzeb quoted an anguished Ms Nawaz as saying while talking to Dawn on Tuesday.
“Begum Kulsoom complained as to why Maryam would not come to see her... she wanted to see her face,” Ms Aurangzeb said, adding that Ms Maryam had a remorse what her mother would have been thinking of her and why she was not sparing time to see her.
The former First Lady was not told about the imprisonment of her husband and daughter.
“It was so cruel and whom should they (the Sharifs) blame for this?” Ms Aurangzeb said.
Relatives meet Nawaz, Maryam
Hours after her death, PML-N president Shahbaz Shairf flew from Lahore to Rawalpindi and went straight from Benazir Bhutto International Airport to Adiala jail to meet his brother Nawaz Sharif and niece Maryam Nawaz for condolence. He also discussed with the former premier matters pertaining to shifting of her body and their release on parole for her burial.
Mr Shahbaz remained with his brother for about an hour and discussed the schedule of her burial before flying back to Lahore.
Other relatives Hamza Shahbaz, Maryam’s daughter Mehrun Nisa and son-in-law Raheel Munir, Suleman Shahbaz, and Abbas Sharif’s family members also visited the jail to condole with the daughter and spouse of Begum Kulsoom. Besides, some PML-N leaders including Senator Chaudhry Tanveer and former federal minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also met the Sharifs in the jail.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed to facilitate the shifting of the body for burial or release of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on parole.
“The prime minister has already directed the relevant authorities to facilitate their release on parole in accordance with law,” Mr Chaudhry said and hinted that they could be released for 12 hours according to the law.
Meanwhile, it is yet to be decided whether Hassan and Hussain would return to attend the funeral prayers of their mother in Lahore. “No decision in this regard has been taken yet. Hassan and Hussain will themselves decide about their return to the country,” said former law minister of Punjab Rana Sanaullah. A source in the PML-N said it was unlikely that Nawaz’s sons would return in the face of corruption cases against them. “Both of them have already been declared proclaimed offenders, therefore, they will not be advised by their father to return,” he said.
Meanwhile, a good number of workers and leaders including Mr Sanaullah, Pervaiz Malik, Salman Rafique, Tahmina Daultana, Kiran Dar gathered at the party’s Model Town secretariat to condole the death of Begum Kulsoom.
Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2018