Ousted Pakistan PM’s wife wins his seat in Parliament

Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, takes a picture with a supporter at a rally in Lahore recently. (Reuters)
Updated 19 September 2017

Ousted Pakistan PM’s wife wins his seat in Parliament

ISLAMABAD: Ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz will replace him in Parliament after she won a by-election in his Lahore constituency.
Official results declared on Monday showed that Kulsoom, of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), won 61,745 votes against 47,099 for her main opponent, Dr. Yasmin Rashid of Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI), in Sunday’s poll. There were more than 40 other candidates.
The constituency is a historical stronghold of the PML-N, and the former prime minister has represented it since the mid-1980s. However, his wife’s majority of 14,646 was well down on the 39,345 majority secured by Sharif at the last election in 2013.
“This should be a worry for PML-N because this constituency is supposed to be its stronghold,” the political analyst and columnist Zahid Hussain told Arab News. “The marginal win of 7.5 percent is not a very good omen.”
The two main parties had turned the by-election into a referendum on the Supreme Court’s decision on July 28 to bar Sharif from public office because he failed to disclose in his nomination papers that he had been employed by the Dubai company Capital FZE, opening the way for his prosecution on corruption charges.
The allegations against Sharif stem from the Panama Papers, documents leaked in 2016 from the law firm Mossack Fonseca. They suggest that Sharif’s family owns millions of dollars worth of property and companies around the world through offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.
Last Friday, the court dismissed a petition from Sharif to reconsider its verdict and withdraw references to corruption.
Hussain, however, rejected suggestions that the furor influenced voting.
“It doesn’t have a major impact on election results,” he said. Both main parties used the Panama Papers verdict to mobilize public support, Hussain said. The PTI campaign centered on the corruption scandal to break the ruling party’s vote bank, while PML-N used it to win sympathy over Sharif’s disqualification, calling it an “insult to voters.”
The defeated candidate, Dr. Rashid, complained that an additional 29,000 voters had been registered without PTI having access to the list. She is likely to challenge the matter in court.
While Kulsoom Nawaz is in London being treated for throat cancer, her daughter Maryam conducted a vigorous campaign on her behalf. Addressing party supporters on Monday, she said her parents hand asked her to thank the people of the constituency.
“I congratulate you PML-N tigers,” she said. The tiger is the party’s political symbol.
“You took the brunt of the attack against Nawaz Sharif,” she said. “The forces which were surrounding Nawaz Sharif have been defeated.”
In a jab at the Supreme Court, she said the people had rejected a “court verdict based on injustice.”
“Your 60,000 votes equal six million votes and it was because of your love for Nawaz Sharif that these forces failed today. The decision of the people is that our prime minister is Nawaz Sharif.”


COVID-19 spread harder to control without common effort says French PM as daily cases double

Updated 11 August 2020

COVID-19 spread harder to control without common effort says French PM as daily cases double

  • French health authorities reported 1,397 new COVID-19 infections over 24 hours on Tuesday
  • New clusters have mushroomed as people let their hair down on holiday, families hold reunions and workers return to offices

PARIS: The renewed spread of coronavirus in France could become harder to control without a collective effort to stop a rise in the infection rate, its prime minister said on Tuesday.
The public was becoming careless, Jean Castex warned, after official data recorded nearly 5,000 new COVID-19 cases from Saturday to Monday. The epidemic has now killed more than 30,300 people in France.
French health authorities reported 1,397 new COVID-19 infections over 24 hours on Tuesday, almost twice Monday’s tally.
The Health Ministry website said there were 15 new deaths in hospital due the disease, compared to an increase of 16 over a three-day period between Monday and Saturday,
“If we don’t act collectively, we expose ourselves to the heightened risk that the rebound in the epidemic becomes hard to control,” Castex said during a visit to a hospital intensive care ward in southern France.
France’s 7-day moving average of new infections climbed to 1,640 on Monday from 1,056 on July 31. The 7-day measure reached a post lockdown low of 272 on May 27, a little over 2 weeks after the government eased one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.
But as in most neighboring European countries, new clusters have mushroomed as people let their hair down on holiday, families hold reunions and workers return to offices and France is desperate to avoid another full-scale lockdown.
Britain has said it will not hesitate putting more countries on its quarantine list, including France, where hordes of Britons spend their summer vacations.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron held a video conference with top ministers from his Riviera summer retreat.
During the meeting, it was decided France would draw up new restrictions for the 20 largest cities to curb the rising infection rate and that a ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people would be extended until Oct. 31.
Some cities have already taken action. Paris on Monday joined Toulouse, Lille, Biarritz and others in imposing a mandatory face mask order in crowded outdoor zones. They are already compulsory nationwide in shops and banks.
The prime minister said testing was “more than satisfactory,” with more than 600,000 tests being conducted weekly, but said more could still be done to target those with symptoms, the prime minister said.
Talking of the risk of another lockdown, Castex said: “no one wants to live through that again.”