Islamabad, Pakistan – Former Pakistani first lady Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has died in a London hospital after a prolonged illness, her family said.
Nawaz, who had been receiving treatment for cancer since 2017, died on Tuesday, Shehbaz Sharif, her husband’s younger brother and head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party in his absence, said on Twitter. She was 68.
“My sister-in-law and Nawaz Sharif’s wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz is no longer with us,” he said. “May Allah bless her.”
Kulsoom Nawaz’s health deteriorated rapidly after her initial diagnosis with lymphoma in June 2017. She was running for a by-election in her PML-N’s stronghold of Lahore at the time.
In September that year, she handily won that by-election, beating out the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Yasmin Rashid, despite not being able to campaign.
In her stead, her campaign was led by her daughter Maryam Nawaz.
Nawaz Sharif and Maryam were convicted in July by an anti-corruption court for not being able to prove the source of assets used to buy a set of upmarket London apartments.
They are currently serving jail terms of 10 and seven years, respectively, at Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail, as well as being fined $10.5m and $2.6m each.
Limited public role
In a statement, Prime Minister Imran Khan, a bitter rival to the Sharifs whose PTI handily beat the outgoing PML-N at a general election in July, said Nawaz Sharif and his daughter would be “provided all facilities that they are entitled to under law”.
Khan termed the former first lady a “brave woman”.
Nawaz had been struggling in and out of consciousness in recent months, being placed on a ventilator at one point.
Born in 1950, she was known for her reserved nature in public, serving as a quiet foil to her husband, who was elected as Pakistan’s prime minister three times.
Although her public role – particularly with regards to Pakistan’s often bitter domestic politics – was limited, she was known to exercise a certain degree of quiet power within the PML-N party.
Following her death, politicians from both sides of the aisle – including Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, President Arif Alvi, and numerous members of the PML-N – offered condolence messages to the Sharif family via Twitter.
Reporting by Asad Hashim, Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @