LAHORE: Shamim Akhtar, the mother of former three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was laid to rest in Lahore on Saturday next to the grave of her late husband at the Sharifs’ private estate.
Akhtar died in London last Sunday. Known widely as ‘Shamim Bibi,’ she traveled to London to live with her eldest son, Sharif, in February this year.
“Mother of PML-N supremo, Mian Nawaz Sharif, has been buried at Jati Umra,” Rana Sanaullah Khan, president of PML-N’s Punjab chapter, told Arab News.
Sharif, 70, was handed a seven-year prison sentence after a conviction for corruption in 2018. He was granted bail on medical grounds to seek treatment abroad last year, and his party said he would not travel to Lahore for his mother’s burial due to continued health problems.
Instead, he attended funeral prayers for his mother at a small gathering in Regent’s Park London, attended by 30 people.
In 2004, Sharif alongside his brother Shehbaz also missed the funeral of their father after refusing to accept the conditional offer of returning home by then President General Pervez Musharraf, while the two were exiled in Saudi Arabia.
Akhtar’s body was flown to Lahore on Saturday morning via a British Airways flight.
Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza Shehbaz, leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, received the body at the airport. The father and son, who are in jail for graft, were released on a five-day parole on Friday to attend the funeral and perform the deceased’s final rituals.
Leaders from PML-N and other political parties attended the funeral with Allama Raghib Naeemi, a renowned religious figure, leading prayers and joined by hundreds of people before the body was buried at Jati Umra-- the family residence.
Shibli Faraz, Federal Minister for Information, said in a tweet earlier that there were no restrictions on Nawaz or his sons to come to Pakistan for the funeral.
On Saturday, the Punjab Chief Minister's special assistant on information, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, criticized the Sharif family for sending the body of Shahim Bibi alone on a plane “like a parcel.”
But the PML-N has strongly criticized comments coming from the ruling party as needlessly politicizing a death.
“The government is politicizing the death of Nawaz Sharif’s mother. Instead of showing some sanity, government spokespersons are making derogatory statements which are not only against political culture but also moral values,” PML-N’s Punjab Secretary for Information, Azma Zahid Bokhari, told Arab News.
Last month, at a widely watched speech made by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the premier had said he would be putting in every effort to bring Sharif back to Pakistan to put him “in a common jail.”