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Begum Kulsoom: A silent but strong presence behind Nawaz Sharif

Known for her mild nature and humble persona, begum Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, breathed her last at a hospital in London after a prolonged illness. The political career of the former first lady remains far from any controversy, unlike embroilment of her family members in different cases.

Born into a Kashmiri family in Lahore, she attended Islamia College and Foreman Christian College University for her graduation. Kulsoom was married to Nawaz Sharif, with whom she has four children. Kulsoom Nawaz served as the President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) from 1999 to 2002.

Kulsoom became First Lady of Pakistan for the first time after her husband, Nawaz Sharif, became Prime Minister of Pakistan on 1 November 1990 when his political alliance, Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, won 104 of 207 seats contested in the general election of 1990.

His first term as Prime Minister ended in July 1993.

She became First Lady of Pakistan for the second time after Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister of Pakistan when his party, Pakistan Muslim League (N), won the Pakistani general election in 1997. His second term as Prime Minister was ended when then Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf led a military coup d’état against him on 12 October 1999.

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz

Kulsoom was arrested by the military and immediately shifted to her local residence.

According to her daughter, Maryam Nawaz, Kalsoom “dauntlessly challenged the usurper when a lot of men backed out”. Nawaz Sharif named his wife as the President of Pakistan Muslim League in 1999, and she remained on post till 2002.

She became First Lady of Pakistan for the third time after Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister of Pakistan when his party, Pakistan Muslim League (N), won the Pakistani general election, 2013.

When Nawaz Sharif was deposed after his disqualification as a result of a Supreme Court verdict in July, 2017, Kulsoom Nawaz contested by-election from her husband’s vacated constituency NA-120 and won the election.

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz had emerged victorious with 61,745 votes while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf s (PTI) Dr Yasmin Rashid remained the runner-up with 47,099 votes.

Begum Kulsoom was diagnosed with lymphoma (throat) cancer in August 2017. She had undergone several sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Initially, she showed signs of improvement but as of late her condition deteriorated. She passed away on September 11, 2018.

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