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.