LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s mother passed away in London on Sunday, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders announced here in the evening.
Begum Shamim Akhtar was in her 90s. She was unwell for a month or so, sources in the party say, adding that she visited a hospital in London for check-up twice last week.
On Sunday, she breathed her last, said Punjab PML-N deputy secretary-general Ataullah Tarar. He said the body of Begum Akhtar was likely to be brought back to Lahore within a couple of days and buried next to the grave of her husband Mian Sharif at the Jati Umra estate of the Sharifs.
Begum Akhtar travelled to the UK in February against the advice of her doctors to see her ailing son, Nawaz Sharif, who has been under treatment for heart and kidney ailments there.
Mr Tarar said the authorities concerned were being formally approached for the release of Mr Nawaz’s younger brother and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, under trial for various graft cases, on parole to enable him to attend last rites of their mother.
Punjab Minister for Prisons Fayyaz Chohan says both Shehbaz and his son Hamza Shehbaz, also in Kot Lakhpat Jail, will be released on parole a day before the arrival of the body.
In the meantime, retired Captain Safdar, son-in-law of the ex-premier, is making burial arrangements at Jati Umra.
Mr Tarar visited Shehbaz in the Kot Lakhpat Jail and arranged his telephonic contact with his elder brother Nawaz Sharif to discuss the burial plan.
Both the brothers could not attend last rites of their father back in October 2004 as they were in exile in Jeddah and had rejected a conditional offer by then military dictator Pervez Musharraf in this respect.
A close aide of the family said Nawaz, declared an absconder by a court, wished to travel back and not miss the burial of his mother but his brother and daughter advised him against the step, requesting him to stay back until completion of his treatment.
Maryam Nawaz, who learnt about the death of her grandmother while at the opposition’s rally in Peshawar, explained in her tweet the reason behind her request. She said: “I have requested Mian Saheb that he must not return. They are cruel people blind by vendetta from whom no humanity could be expected.” She complained she received the sad news two hours late because of suspension of phone services at and around the venue for the public rally and chided the government for not taking pains to inform her of the happening.
A party official said Nawaz Sharif would attend his mother’s funeral in London, as his family physician had also advised him against air travel.
Meanwhile, the PML-N has suspended all its party activities and postponed the workers’ conventions scheduled for Monday (today) in Bahawalpur and on Nov 24 in Muzaffargarh. The leadership will remain at the party secretariat in Lahore’s Model Town to receive those coming to attend her last rites.
It is yet to be ascertained as to who will accompany the body to Pakistan when almost all the Sharifs are either in jails or wanted in various graft cases here.
While talking reporters in London, former minister Ishaq Dar, whose son is married to Nawaz’s daughter, said Begum Shamim had been unwell for quite some days. “A day earlier her health took a turn for the worst. One of her lungs collapsed and stopped functioning,” he said, adding that she breathed her last at the family residence in Avenfield.
Nawaz Sharif, who was serving a seven-year jail term in a corruption case, had left for London in November last year after the Lahore High Court (LHC) gave him a four-week permission to seek treatment abroad. He had given an undertaking to the court that he would return home within four weeks or as soon as doctors declared him fit to travel.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, former president Asif Zardari, Lt-Gen (retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, ANP president Asfandyar Wali, PML-Q leader Shujaat Hussain, Tehreek-i-Istaqlal’s Rehmat Khan Wardag, various federal ministers and others have expressed their condolences with the Sharifs on her demise.
Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2020