By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The wife of Pakistan’s deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif will run for the parliamentary seat he was forced to vacate after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding office last month, party officials said.
Nomination papers for his wife, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, were submitted in Lahore on August 11, officials from Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party said. The election is due to take place in 45 days.
The announcement comes as Nawaz Sharif leads a “homecoming” caravan to Lahore that has drawn thousands of supporters. Sharif in rallies held along the caravan route has described his removal last month by the top court over unreported income as “an insult to the mandate of 200 million voters.”
The decision to put forward Sharif’s wife is in keeping with Pakistan’s tradition of dynastic politics and also indicates the deposed prime minister will remain involved behind the scenes.
Sharif’s ruling party last week elected one of his loyalists, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as prime minister.
Party leaders at first suggested that Abbasi would soon be replaced by Sharif’s younger brother, Shahbaz, who is currently chief minister of Punjab, but now say they expect Abbasi to stay in office until elections next year.
Some party officials suggested Sharif’s wife Kulsoom could become prime minister once elected to parliament. But Sharif aides sought to quell that speculation.
Kulsoom, who has been married to Sharif for 46 years, has previously stayed largely out of politics and has never run for office. She will be running in Sharif’s political stronghold in Lahore’s Walled City, where her husband never lost an election.
Kulsoom has always stood by her husband throughout a political career that has seen him elected and then ousted as prime minister three times.
When Pervez Musharraf arrested her husband in a coup in October 1999, the former first lady led protests until he was freed. Afterwards, the family lived for years in exile in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, AFP reported that Sharif’s motorcade hit and killed a teenaged boy as his caravan proceeded along the Grand Trunk Road towards Lahore on August 11.
Railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique called the teenager “the first martyr of this movement for democracy” in an address to a crowd of thousands in Gujrat.
One of the vehicles in the motorcade hit and killed the boy as he crossed a divider on the road, the minister said.