Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz, who is under treatment for throat cancer in London, will contest September 17 election for National Assembly seat from Lahore despite her ailment, the former premier’s close aide said today. “There has been no proposal under discussion regarding withdrawal of Begum Kulsoom from running the NA-120 seat. She will contest the election and her campaign will be run by the party workers,” Sharif’s political secretary Senator Dr Asif Karmani told PTI. He said she may not be able to participate in election campaign because of her cancer treatment but she would contest the election for sure and win it. The former first lady, in her mid-60s, is being tipped as next prime minister replacing Shahid Khakan Abbasi after winning September 17 by-poll. The Lahore’s seat fell vacant after the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif on July 28 in the Panama Papers case.
According to Dr Karmani, Begum Kulsoom’s cancer is curable. “Doctors will start her treatment in coming days.” The Election Commission of Pakistan today issued a notice to Federal Commerce Minister Pervaiz Malik for allegedly using state machinery in Kulsoom’s campaign for by-poll. It sought a reply from him within three days. The PML-N leadership had officially nominated Malik to run her campaign. According to a senior PML-N leader from Punjab, Kulsoom’s daughter Maryam Nawaz will take care of the election campaign of her mother. “Maryam will make sure that the party workers run the election campaign for her mother vigorously. Besides, Maryam is also expecting that her uncle – Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif – extend full help in the campaign,” he said.
At a time when all men of the family had been incarcerated by the Musharraf regime and the party’s leaders had either gone into hiding or become inactive, Kulsoom came out all alone and, as the PML-N president, led a campaign that mobilised the activists and eventually forced the government to release her family.
Meanwhile, Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has made a telephone call to Sharif to convey his wishes for the health of his wife. “During the call to Sharif, Gen Bajwa expressed his best wishes and prayers for the health of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz,” the military’s media wing Inter Services Public Relations Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted.