Nawaz Sharif to attend Kulsoom’s funeral

In this picture released by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party, jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif greets a welcome party in Lahore on Sept. 12 after being released temporarily on parole. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018

Nawaz Sharif to attend Kulsoom’s funeral

  • Wife of former-PM will be laid to rest in Lahore on Friday
  • Punjab government releases inmates on parole for twelve hours which lawyers say could later be extended to five days

ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday released ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Mohammad Safdar on parole, a move which will allow them to attend the funeral of Nawaz’s wife, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, who died on Tuesday.

The trio, accompanied by Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz’s younger brother and president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), left for Lahore from Rawalpindi on a special plane from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport.

Kulsoom died at the age of 68, in London, after succumbing to a long battle with cancer. Her remains will be brought back to Pakistan for burial.

“Permission is hereby granted in favor of prisoner Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif s/o Muhammad Sharif, former prime minister of Pakistan, presently confined in Central Prison, Rawalpindi, to attend the funeral prayer of his wife late Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, at Jati Umrah (Raiwind), Lahore,” a notification issued by Punjab government’s Home Department, on Wednesday, said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Shehbaz had submitted a request seeking permission for the three to be allowed to attend the funeral. According to the notification, the permission has been granted for only twelve hours which lawyers say can be extended up to five days.

Ex-premier Nawaz and daughter Maryam were lodged in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail after being handed jail sentences for 10 and seven years, in a corruption case.

Advocate Sharafat Ali, an assistant to the family’s legal team, said that the duration of the parole would be extended on the request of the family. “It is prerogative of the Home Department to extend the duration of the parole. We hope it will be extended to at least five days,” he told Arab News.

Under Pakistan’s Prison Rules, neither of the three can move outside their residence in Jati Umrah, Lahore, while a police escort will be responsible for their safety and security.

Shortly after Kulsoom’s death, Prime Minister Imran Khan assured the family that they would be extended full legal support, within the ambit of the law and constitution.

Kulsoom was undergoing treatment at London’s Harley Street Clinic, since August last year, after she was diagnosed with early-stage lymphoma.

She underwent multiple surgeries and at least five chemotherapy sessions during the time, and was finally placed on life-support from July this year.

With the family deciding to bury Kulsoom in Lahore, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, PML-N's Information Secretary, said that the body will be brought back to Pakistan on Friday.

“Shehbaz Sharif has been assigned the responsibility to bring back the remains [of Begum Kulsoom]. He will take the first available flight to London for the purpose,” Khan told Arab News.

Pakistan begins anti-polio campaign amid steady decline in coronavirus cases

Updated 50 min 41 sec ago

Pakistan begins anti-polio campaign amid steady decline in coronavirus cases

  • 34 million children under the age of five will be vaccinated in 130 districts across the country in August
  • Pakistan's anti-polio efforts were halted in March and resumed only last month amid a decline in infections and fatalities from COVID-19

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani health officials over the weekend launched a seven-day vaccination campaign against polio in efforts to eliminate the disease amid a steady decline in coronavirus cases, which had recently overwhelmed the country’s health system.

During the week-long drive, Pakistan Polio Eradication Program aims to vaccinate 34 million children under the age of five in 130 districts. The country's efforts against polio were halted in March and resumed only last month as the COVID-19 infection started to decrease. On Saturday, Pakistan reported only nine new deaths from the virus. The country's total COVID-19 tally was 288,047, with 6,162 related deaths as of Saturday evening.

The anti-polio campaign started on Thursday in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and was launched on Saturday in Punjab and Sindh. On Monday, vaccination will begin in Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

A health worker gives a polio vaccine to a baby girl at a slum area in Lahore on Aug. 15, 2020. (AP)

“The August campaign is much bigger than the last campaign held in July, we are hoping to reach many more vulnerable children. I was encouraged with the success of our last campaign, particularly how parents cooperated with vaccinators despite the COVID-19 environment, and how our vaccinators followed the COVID-19 safety precautions they were trained on," Dr. Rana Safdar, who heads the government's polio program, said as this month's mass vaccination commenced. 

He added that similar campaigns against polio will be launched in October, November and December.

Dr. Faisal Sultan, the prime minister's special assistant on public health, expressed hope that parents "will continue to realize the importance of vaccinating their children during this campaign in August and help our nation ultimately end the threat of polio." 

"It is imperative that Pakistan continues its fight against polio with an already accessible, safe and widely used vaccine that has saved countless children from polio worldwide," he said.

A health worker gives a polio vaccine to a child at a slum area in Lahore on Aug. 15, 2020. (AP)

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries in the world where polio — a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the polio virus — is still endemic. Since January, Pakistan has reported about 100 new polio cases in various parts of the country.

Polio is a highly infectious disease mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from the disease.