- And the need to improve political culture
Begun Kulsoom Nawaz was laid to rest after a widely attended funeral. She was the wife of a man who had been removed from the office of the prime minister and sentenced to jail for 10 years in Avenfield properties reference case. Nawaz Sharif’s party had lost elections both at the center and in its erstwhile stronghold of Punjab. His daughter and son-in-law are also serving jail terms while two sons have been declared absconders. Shahbaz Sharif is facing several NAB enquiries. The issue has caused considerable polarization in society
Under the circumstances, it was a happy surprise to find an across the board display of grief over Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s death who had been bed-ridden for eight months on account of a deteriorating cancer of the throat. The COAS and CJP sent condolence messages to the bereaved family. The PTI leadership which had all along acted as the nemesis of the Sharif family also joined the mourners. President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan issued statements recognising the deceased’s courage and dignity and her confronting the disease with fortitude. The PTI government extended the parole of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law, from twelve hours to five days. Messages of sympathy to the family have been sent by Bilawal Bhutto, Bakhtawar, Hasil Bizenjo and a number of other politicians. Almost all major parties including the PTI sent important leaders to represent them at the funeral gathering.
Hopefully the unusual display of courtesy by those who had initially expressed doubts about the painful illness would compensate for their earlier display of callousness. The reaction shows that a positive element in Pakistan’s culture continues to survive despite the general decline of values. People still show respect for the dead even when they belong to ‘the other camp’. Despite being labeled by his opponents as another Donald Trump whose reaction to Senator McCain’s death was highly inappropriate, Imran Khan behaved decently. There is a need on the part of Pakistan’s political parties to go a step further by treating political opponents as rivals instead of personal enemies. Despite political differences the parties have to maintain working relations.