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.

Pakistan ready to respond to a full spectrum threat — army spokesman

Updated 45 min 24 sec ago

Pakistan ready to respond to a full spectrum threat — army spokesman

  • Prepared to counter any attack from Indian security forces
  • Warns New Delhi against action; says Islamabad “would surprise you”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor warned India on Friday against any military action, saying that should New Delhi “show any aggression,” it would be Islamabad that would “surprise you”. 
He added in the same breath that “we do not wish to go to war”.
In his statement — which was in response to growing threats from its nuclear-armed neighbor — the spokesperson said that Islamabad was prepared to respond to a “full spectrum threat” without enabling its nuclear capability.
“Pakistan is not preparing for war. War and revenge threats are coming from you. We are a sovereign state and hold the right to respond to your threats. We are not preparing to initiate, but response and defense is our right and we will exercise that,” he said, adding that he hoped India “got the message”.
Ghafoor said Islamabad delayed its response to the Pulwama attack to investigate New Delhi’s baseless claims of state-sponsored terrorism to ascertain the veracity of the allegations, following which Prime Minister Imran Khan responded in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday wherein he rejected the assertion and warned New Delhi of retaliation if attacked.
He said that Khan has offered to assist India in investigating the attack if it can back its claims and would take strict measures against the person who is “an enemy of Pakistan”, an offer Ghafoor said has been given before as well. He added that “terrorism is a regional problem and Pakistan is willing to table talks with India on the matter”.
Ghafoor made the comments at a press briefing which came a week after a deadly suicide attack in the Pulwama district of Indian-administered Kashmir. The attack killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel and left scores injured.
Listing terror incidents of the past in India or Indian-administered Kashmir, Ghafoor said there is a pattern of occurrences of this nature adding that “when an important event for Pakistan is scheduled to happen, this type of stage action arises”.
The brazen bombing came before eight very important engagements for Pakistan, Ghafoor explained connecting India’s previous attempts to paint Pakistan as the sponsor of terrorism, hold its western neighbor responsible and push it toward diplomatic isolation.
“Saudi Crown Prince was due in Pakistan to hold a (historic) investment conference, talks on terror listing at United Nations Security Council was scheduled, development on Afghan peace reconciliation process was underway, discussions on human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir at the European Union was due, the decisive hearing of (Indian spy) Kulbushan Jhadav case at the world court, a discussion on Financial Action Task Force was to take place for a decision on Pakistan, both sides (India and Pakistan) were to hold a meeting on the Kartarpur border crossing development, and Pakistan super league cricket matches [in which foreign players are participating] had begun,” he said.
The military spokesman questioned how cross border infiltration could have happened when the number of Indian security forces is larger than the population of Kashmiris. “India should ask its forces which have been there for seven decades and spent a huge quantum on defense, how infiltration occurred?” he said.
“The attack happened miles from the Line of Control (LoC), the explosives used were under use by Indian security forces and administration – it didn’t come from Pakistan. The vehicle used was local, not from Pakistan. The attack [was carried out ] by the young Kashmiri, who was resident of Indian-administered Kashmir,” Ghafoor said.
He added that Pakistan is the only country in the world that has not let terrorism take control of its narrative and has given ample sacrifices to counter it. He cited the example of Islamabad helping other nations eliminate Al Qaeda from Afghanistan.
Kashmir, he said, is the biggest issue of the region and offered India to resume talks on the matter. Being the world’s largest democracy, India needs “introspection” on the Kashmir issue and two democracies can’t afford war, he said.