Islamabad : Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, died of cancer in London yesterday as her husband remains locked up in jail in his home country following his fall from power. Nawaz, 68, who was first lady of Pakistan three times, was diagnosed with lymphoma in August last year and had been receiving treatment at a private hospital in London for months.
“Yes, the death of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz is confirmed,” Maryam Aurangzeb, a spokesperson of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Sharif’s party, told AFP. Pakistani media reported that she had been put on life support and a ventilator earlier in the day. Sharif was ousted from the premiership a month before his wife’s diagnosis. He and the couple’s daughter Maryam Nawaz had left her in London and returned to Pakistan on July 13 this year in a bid to motivate support for the PML-N days before a general election. They were immediately jailed for corruption, with the party losing the July 25 vote to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Sharif had been banned from running and his return was seen as a failed gamble to save his political legacy. Conspiracy theories claiming that Nawaz was actually healthy, and that the Sharifs were faking her illness to gain sympathy, swirled in the final weeks of the acrimonious campaign. Nawaz had been at her husband’s side throughout his decades-long political career, which saw him become prime minister of Pakistan three times while facing military coups, prison and exile. “She was a brave lady,” Siddiq-ul-Farouq, a stalwart party loyalist, said, describing her as well-educated and dignified.