Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of the former Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif has won a key parliamentary seat in the by-elections.
She has won the very seat that was vacated by her husband who was forced to resign in 2017.
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.
After his resignation, Sharif’s political party, PML-N announced that his wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, would stand in the by-elections to take over the seat that was vacated by the former Prime Minister. Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif is a Pakistani professor. Even though she shied away from politics in the past, in 1999, she became a prominent figure in Pakistan. She was declared the President of Pakistan Muslim League after her husband was ousted in a military coup and she held that position till 2002.
It was a closely contested election between Kulsoom Nawaz and Yasmin Rashid. Rashid was the candidate from Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf, which is headed by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. At the end, it was Kulsoom who was declared the winner.
In 2013, Sharif won the election of the same NA-120 by a 40,000 vote majority. This number significantly shrunk to just about a 14,000 majority in 2017 and won 53.5 percent of the vote. She is said to have received 61,254 votes in her favor. Sharif’s daughter, Maryam, struck a jubilant tone while addressing supporters after the victor. She said, “This is not an ordinary victory. You have defeated not only people who were in the field but also those who are invisible. This victory is a message to the forces hatching conspiracies against Nawaz Sharif that there would be only rules of people and democracy.”
Maryam is often touted as the party’s future and has been billed as the successor to her father’s political legacy.
Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf has alleged that there are voting irregularities, however, no serious claim has been made so far.
Our assessment is that Kulsoom’s victory proves that despite the scandal connected to the Panama Papers, Sharif remains one of the most influential political names in Pakistan. This is not only a victory for Nawaz Sharif and Kulsoom, this also signals that Maryam may become a genuine contender to run for General elections in the near future.