Kalsoom Sharif steps up

Kalsoom Sharif steps up
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kalsoom Nawaz will be contesting in the by-elections from the seat vacated by Sharif. Sharif has been barred from holding..

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kalsoom Nawaz will be contesting in the by-elections from the seat vacated by Sharif.

Sharif has been barred from holding public office due to a ruling by the Supreme Court.

Background

In July 2017, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was forced to resign after the Supreme Court disqualified him from the office. The ruling was in connection to the 2015 Panama Leaks that linked Sharif’s family to offshore companies.

The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents that detail financial and attorney–client information for more than 2,14,488 offshore entities. Many influential and powerful people from across the world including politicians have been implicated in these documents. Journalists who investigated them found that many of these transactions were legal. However, some of the shell companies that had been set up were indulging in illegal activities.

Nawaz Sharif was among the politicians who was linked to the documents. This, set off a probe into his personal wealth. His children were among those connected to the offshore companies that became public knowledge.

Sharif is a powerful politician in Pakistan. This is his third term as prime minister of the country.

Analysis

Sharif has maintained that the legal proceedings against him were politically motivated. According to a statement by his party, PML-N, his wife might most likely take over the seat that was vacated by him. The party told the newspaper, Dawn, “In the internal party discussions so far, names of Begum Kalsoom and Maryam have emerged as first and second priority respectively as PML-N candidates for the seat (that) fell vacant after disqualification of the prime minister.” Ultimately, the party submitted the nomination papers of Kalsoom Nawaz for the National Assembly seat NA-120 Lahore.

Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif is a Pakistani professor. In the beginning, she did not get involved in politics. However, when Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Pervez Musharraf led a military coup d'état in 1999, she was arrested and shifted to a local residence. She became the President of Pakistan Muslim League when her husband was in jail and held that position till 2002. She has since become a prominent figure in Pakistani political landscape.

Despite the fact, Sharif has been disqualified by the Supreme Court, he has announced that he will fight to once again become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. During a recent rally he said, “The decision to disqualify me was pre-planned. It is about time the public’s votes are valued.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that this isn’t the first time Kalsoom Sharif has had to step in for her husband. It remains to be seen if she has enough clout to ensure that the power stays within the family. 

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