Kulsoom’s funeral preparations underway amid tight security

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. (AP)
Updated 12 September 2018

Kulsoom’s funeral preparations underway amid tight security

  • Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif released under parole to attend wife's funeral
  • Kulsoom Nawaz to be laid to rest in Lahore on Friday

ISLAMABAD: Funeral preparations were underway on Wednesday for Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's wife, at Jati Umra, their private residence near Lahore, where she will be laid to rest.

Pakistan's three-time premier Nawaz, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and her husband Capt. Mohammad Safdar -- currently serving sentences for corruption -- have been temporarily released on parole to attend the funeral. Jati Umra has been declared a sub-jail, with the trio confined to three rooms within the residence. Earlier in the day, the Punjab cabinet extended the parole time to 62 hours.

Kulsoom died at the age of 68 in London on Tuesday, after succumbing to a long battle with cancer. She is to be buried in Lahore on Friday. A large number of security officials have been deployed at the Jati Umra residence, and no party worker or leader is allowed to meet Nawaz or his daughter.

Leader of the opposition in Punjab Assembly and Nawaz’s nephew, Hamza Shahbaz, was receiving officials and party leaders -- such as Javed Hashmi, Asif Kirmani, Azma Bokhari and city Mayor Col. Mubashar -- at the residence.

Arab News’ correspondent in Lahore, Raja Riaz, described the scene as somber and gloomy, with security officials limiting the movement of guests.

“The police have adopted strict security measures. The movement of the workers is restricted. They are not allowed to meet Nawaz Sharif. The police is following the parole rules issued by the home department. Necessary security arrangements for the last rituals are also in process.” Rana Shahzad Akbar, DIG Operations Lahore, told Arab News.

Born in Lahore, in 1950, to a Kashmiri family, Kulsoom held a doctorate degree in Urdu Literature from the University of Punjab. While she largely remained behind the scenes as Nawaz served his terms in public office in the capacity of a prime minister -- from 1990-1993, 1997-1999 and 2013-2017 -- Kulsoom is known to have led the political struggle against military dictator General Pervaiz Musharraf, after her husband was jailed in 1999. 

“Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif had displayed exemplary courage on July 8, 2000 when she, kept under house arrest in the Model Town family residence, defied the-then military government’s orders and forcibly came out of detention to lead a political rally. Her vehicle, driven by a party colleague, was fork-lifted by the military authorities and detained in the civil officers’ mess of official housing area of Gazetted Officers- GOR-I,” Shahid Malik, a correspondent who had covered the entire episode for the BBC, said.

Karachi police chief asks his cops to be clean, lightly armed

Updated 23 September 2018

Karachi police chief asks his cops to be clean, lightly armed

  • Karachi police to replace Kalashnikovs, Sub Machine Guns (SMGs) with pistols and revolvers for officials on patrol, escort and picket duties
  • Taking back automatic assault weapons from policemen in a city such as Karachi, where people and groups are heavily armed, is not a wise decision, says former IG Sindh, Afzal Ali Shigri

KARACHI: The chief of police in Pakistan’s seaside megacity of Karachi has introduced reforms in an effort to win public hearts.

“The police persons should be nicely dressed, should be neat and lean and should demonstrate good manners,” Dr. Amir Ahmed Shaikh, the city police chief, told Arab News.
Shaikh, on Saturday, issued a notification, reading; “SMG/automatic assault weapon should not be displayed or pointed toward general public during escort movements or mobile patrolling.”
The directives, from Shaikh, which were forwarded for strict compliance to his subordinates, read: “All assault weapons are to be replaced with pistols/revolvers.”
According to priority, the motorcycle squad will have only pistol or revolver.
For escorts, police patrolling mobile, picket points and Madadgar, 15 mobiles will be allowed to have one SMG each. The rest of the police on these duties will have pistols only.
“It has been observed with great concern that all police persons deployed for patrolling, pickets or escort duties are armed with SMGs, and the display of automatic assault weapon in an urban setting not only scares people but also results in casualties in a case of even accidental firing,” reads the notification.
Shaikh, in an interview with Arab News, said he has carried this and all other measures to reform the police who are infamous.
“I am making police people-friendly. I want a police force which is loved by the people and upon seeing them, criminals should run away,” Shaikh said. “Currently the people are running away from the police. It hurts me a lot that the police are defamed due to a few.”
Shaikh said that he had identified 197 officials who are black sheep of the police force. “Policemen are involved in kidnapping. Would anyone call them policemen? They are kidnappers, they are criminals. They are dacoits but they have no more any place in police force,” the enthusiastic police officer vowed.
Although his good intentions are hailed by many, former officials have criticized the decision of taking automatic weapons back from the police.
“It’s no less than a suicide to take back automatic weapons from police in a city where huge caches of arms are recovered on a regular basis,” Afzal Ali Shigri, former Inspector General of Police Sindh, told Arab News.
In the 1980s, Shigri recalled, the policemen in Karachi would have sticks to deal with criminals. “But it’s not Karachi of those past times. It has remained a center of violence although peace has been restored. The city has faced every type of actors of violence which exists in this country. The city has been host to sectarian, ethnic violence besides hardcore terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State-inspired youths,” he said.
Shigri said even the common people are armed. “How do we expect police with a pistol to deal with a criminal having an assault rifle?” he asked.
One has to take several aspects before taking such major decisions, the former IG said, adding that instead of AK-47 and other assault weapons with a large range, the police should be armed with close-range weapons like the MP5, which are good for urban centers.
Shaikh said that after assuming power as city police chief he has not only focused on finding black sheep within an otherwise great police force but is also working on building their capacity.
On Saturday another notification issued by Shaikh reads: “It is to state that since last two years no firing refresher courses have been arranged for the constabulary, so training should be provided.”
In his letter to principals of the Saeedabad and Razzakabad police training colleges, Shaikh has requested firing training for 540 policemen in the first phase.