13 August, IIslamabad: The wife of ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will contest a by-election for the parliamentary seat he vacated last month after he was deposed by the Supreme Court, party officials said.

The election on the National Assembly seat will be held on Sept. 17. Kulsoom Nawaz submitted nomination papers with the polls body in Lahore on Friday, said officials from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party, of which Sharif remains the leader.

The July 28 ruling by the Supreme Court, which forced Nawaz Sharif to step down, had also affected other members of the Sharif family, including his two sons and daughter Maryam.

Kulsoom is the only member of the Sharif family whose name has never been mentioned in any corruption cases.
Although Kulsoom distanced herself from political activities in recent years, she had been involved in active politics when then Army Chief Pervez Musharraf dismissed Sharif’s government in 1999 and jailed him.

Political observers believe that Kulsoom knows the
complex nature of Pakistani politics as she led the PML-N in difficult time and toured the country to seek support for her husband.

Family politics in Pakistan is common and like PML-N, which is dominated by Sharif family, the main opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is run by Bhutto family.

Observers say with Kalsoom’s nomination for the parliament seat, Sharif intends to seek the dominant role of his family in politics and try to retain his traditional parliament seat in Lahore.

Sharif is currently leading thousands of his supporters in a “homecoming” campaign, in which he started a rally from the capital of Islamabad on Wednesday and is scheduled to conclude Saturday night in Lahore.

The PML-N had earlier decided to field Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif, to contest election on the vacant seat and replace Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the prime minister.

Abbasi was elected last week as the interim prime minister. Party leaders now suggest Abbasi will hold office until elections next year, a reversal of an earlier party agreement to let Shehbaz take over.

Shehbaz is the chief minister of Punjab province and the party does not want to disturb the present system in the most populous province, which plays key role in formation of governments in the center, observers say.

Kulsoom will contest Yasmin Rashid, the candidate of main opposition Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) or Justice Movement, led by cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan.

A tough fight is expected between Kulsoom and Rashid, who had secured 50,000 votes against Sharif’s 91,000 votes in 2013 elections.

In view of the PTI candidate’s sound position in the previous election, it could not be smooth sailing for Kulsoom and her PML-N, observers here said.  Xinhua

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