Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam, were released from Adiala Jail on parole late Wednesday night to attend the funeral of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz who passed away a few hours back.
On Tuesday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said the federal government decided to release Sharif, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo, and his daughter, both of whom were arrested on July 13 as they returned from London to Lahore, for Begum Kulsoom's funeral.
The former premier's wife died at the age of 68 after months in a coma. She was diagnosed with lymphoma last year, barely a month after Sharif was removed from office by the Supreme Court, which ordered him to face trial in an anti-corruption court.
"My sister-in-law and Mian Nawaz Sharif's wife, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, is no more amongst us. May God rest her in peace," the PML-N tweeted, quoting Shehbaz Sharif, the former PM's brother, on its official account.
"We have just received a request from the family, and InshAllah (God be willing) we will be granting parole," Chaudhry had told Reuters, adding that Sharif and his daughter would be freed for 12 hours on the day of the funeral and burial, which is likely to take place in three to four days after the body is flown back home from London.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in this regard, issued a statement offering condolences, saying the government “as per law” would provide assistance to the family.
“She was a courageous woman of great dignity and confronted her disease with fortitude,” Khan said on Twitter.
Sharif was in London with his cancer-stricken wife earlier this year when the anti-graft court had handed him a 10-year jail term and sentenced his presumed political heir, Maryam, to seven years in prison over the purchase of luxury flats in London in the 1990s.
Arrested on arrival
The father-daughter duo had left Begum Kulsoom's bedside to return to Pakistan to rally their followers ahead of the July 25 elections, which their party lost to the former cricket star Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Both were arrested on arrival and have been imprisoned since.
Begum Kulsoom was briefly a member of parliament from September 2017 to July 2018 when she won her husband’s former seat in a by-election after the Supreme Court disqualified him.
Up until last year's ousting of the three-time-premier Sharif, who was removed from office in each of his elected terms, she had never been a politician, but she memorably led protests after a 1999 military coup that ended a previous Sharif administration.
With her husband jailed by the then-president General Pervez Musharraf, she broke through a police barricade that had been set up around her home in Lahore in July 2000 in an attempt to prevent her from leading a public rally.
She managed to get away in a car, which was chased by the police for several miles. When police finally surrounded the car, she locked herself in for several hours in a standoff until police finally towed the vehicle away.
The Musharraf regime eventually allowed Nawaz and Begum Kulsoom to leave the country, and they spent years in exile until returning in 2007 to contest new elections.