LAHORE/LONDON   -  Hundreds of people including family members offered funeral prayer of former first lady Begum Kulsoom Nawaz at the Regent’s Park mosque in central London on Thursday.

The wife of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif breathed her last on Tuesday at London’s Harley Street Clinic after a protracted cancer ailment.

Nawaz’ sons Hassan and Hussain and daughter Asma, his younger brother and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, former finance minister Ishaq Dar and other members of the Sharif family attended the funeral.

Begum Kulsoom’s casket is set to be brought back to Pakistan today (Friday) morning through PIA flight PK-758 for a second funeral. Her funeral prayer will be offered at 5pm at Sharif City Complex.

She will then be laid to rest at Sharif family’s Jattiumra farmhouse beside the grave of her father-in-law, Mian Muhammad Sharif.

The death of Kulsoom, 68, is being widely mourned as she was not only loved by his family and supporters but also admired by the political rivals.

Thousands of people, including top politicians and other prominent figures, are expected to attend the funeral of Begum Kulsoom . Under the leadership of Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, a top level delegation of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf will also attend the funeral.

Kulsoom, the cool headed and affectionate lady, led her husband’s PML-Nawaz during Musharraf regime with great courage and determination. This was the time when the Sharif brothers were in captivity and there was almost no other top leader of the party to challenge the dictator.

Moving scenes were observed earlier on Wednesday evening when Shehbaz Sharif arrived in London to bring the body of his sister-in-law back. His elder nephew Hussain Nawaz broke into tears as he embraced his uncle.

Hussain and Hassan are not coming to Lahore for their mother’s burial as they have been declared proclaimed offenders in the accountability cases being heard in Islamabad against the Sharif family.

Speaking to the media persons at the Heathrow Airport upon his arrival in London, Shehbaz said he had submitted the parole request on behalf of his brother Nawaz and niece Maryam Nawaz – who are serving jail terms after their conviction in Panama leaks case.

The PML-N president confirmed the reports that they had initially refused to submit a parole request for their release to attend Kulsoom’s funeral and it was he who persuaded them to file it.

Shehbaz said his brother and niece were in great pain over the demise of the former first lady. “May Allah give courage to the bereaved family to bear the loss,” he said.

The PML-N and family sources said on Thursday that all arrangement for Kulsoom’s funeral had been finalised.

Nawaz Sharif, who is on a five-day parole along with his daughter and son-in-law, Cap(r) Safdar, yesterday visited the area where nimaze janaza of his spouse is to take place today.

Deeply grieved PML-N Quaid was brought to the site amid heavy security and he passed instructions to MPA Javed Mirza about the funeral prayer, to be led by renowned Islamic scholar Maulana Tariq Jamil.

Earlier before journey back home, the funeral prayer of Begum Kulsoom was offered in London after Zohar at 12:15pm (GMT) on Thursday. It was led by prayer leader of Khalifa Sheikh Izzat mosque.

Besides family members, the prayer was joined by a large number of PML-N workers, members of Pakistani community, former interior minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, PML-N leader Daniyal Ch, AJK ex-president Ch Abdul Majid, former minister Pir Hasnaat and members of Pakistan High Commission.

The body was straightaway carried from the Park to the Heathrow Airport for cargo in PK-758, hours before the departure of the flight.



Jatiumra scene

A gloomy and somber atmosphere continued to prevail at Jatiumra last day where hundreds of people from every walk of life came to offer condolences.

The visitors were attended by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif and Salman Shahbaz in the morning time while Nawaz Sharif met the public at large, political leaders, party men in the afternoon at the Jatimura tent-made sitting place. Some very emotional scenes were observed on that occasion.

Nawaz was due to meet the visitors between 4pm to 6pm but he appeared about 55 minutes late from his residence and left the place at about 5:30pm.

Hundreds of party workers surrounded the vehicle of Nawaz when he appeared from the residential area to the Pindal (tented place). They raised slogans like ‘Nawaz Sharif zindabad’, ‘Nawaz Sharif we love you’ and ‘zulm key zabtey, hum nahin mantey’.

Most of the people captured those moving scenes by their cell phones. Nawaz Sharif remained humbled all the time. He silently took to his seat and received condolences.

Normal security was maintained on the occasion and no beforehand identification of the visitors was obtained although law enforcers and the jail authorities were present there to keep an eye on those gathered there.

The eminent persons who offered condolences to Nawaz included former President Mamnoon Hussain, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Senator Raja Zafarul Haq, JUI-F Ameer Maulana Fazlur Rehman, ANP leader Mian Ifkthar Hussain, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, Musaddaq Malik, Shekeel Awan, Dr Tariq Fazal Ch, Khwaja Asif, JI leader Sirajul Haq, Liaqat Baloch, Pir Ijaz Hashmi, former KP governor, Iqbal Zafar Jaghra, Sardar Yaqoob Nasir, Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, Ch Tanvir, Mushahidullah Khan, Shahid Hamid, Zahid Hamid, Abdul Qadir Baloch, Pervez Rashid, Dr Asif Saeed Kirmani, Syeda Maimanat Mohsin (Jugnoo Mohsin) and Najam Sethi.

A team of doctors was also present at Jattiumra to take care of the health condition of Nawaz, who the other day recorded low blood pressure and was advised complete rest.

Earlier in the day, two Awami National Party (ANP) leaders including Afrasiab Khan, who came from Peshawar to offer condolences, were not allowed to see Nawaz Sharif.

The leaders raised protest against this unsympathetic attitude of the authorities, who took the plea that the meeting time is fixed. The ANP leaders then condoled Begum Sahiba’s death with Hamza Shehbaz Sharif.



Begum Kulsoom to be laid to rest today



SAJID ZIA/agencies