he funeral procession of three-time first lady Kulsoom Nawaz was held at London Central Mosque near Regent Park on Thursday.

The London rites commenced at 8am British Standard Time. The body of the deceased will be brought back to Pakistan on a PIA flight after the procession. Kulsoom’s daughter Asma, brother-in-law Shehbaz Sharif and multiple Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders will accompany the body to Lahore where it will be laid to rest.

The procession was attended by sons Hassan and Hussain who will be unable to attend the final rites in Pakistan after being declared absconders from the ongoing corruption investigation lodged against members of the Sharif family.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif, daughter Maryam and son-in-laaw Capt (retd) Safdar were released from Rawalpindi Central Jail on Tuesday on a five-day parole following Kulsoom’s demise.

Preparations for the former first lady’s final rites have been completed in Lahore. Noted religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel will lead funeral prayers on Friday at the city’s Sharif Medical.

Punjab police have been tasked with securing the venue. Unauthorised personnel will not be permitted to enter the medical facility.

Kulsoom breathed her last at Hartley Clinic in London on Tuesday after protracted battle with cancer. She passed at the age of 68. She was first admitted to the hospital on August 17, 2017 and was diagnosed with cancer few days after.

Her condition reportedly improved following successive surgeries and chemotherapy sessions before rapidly deteriorating in the summer. She was placed on a ventilator and remained critical for weeks.

PML-N president Shehbaz was the first to confirm news of her passing. “My sister-in-law and Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz is no more. May Allah forgive her,” he said in a statement.

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Kulsoom was born on March 29, 1950. She married Nawaz on April 2, 1971. The couple had four children — two sons and two daughters. She was the granddaughter of legendary wrestler Ghulam Muhammad Bakhsh, commonly known as ‘Gama Pehlwan.’

A housewife, Kulsoom rose to prominence when her husband was imprisoned after General (retd) Pervez Musharraf 1999 military coup. Along with a handful of party activists and relatives, Kulsoom confronted cases against her husband and played a pivotal role in keeping the PML-N united.

She spearheaded protests against Nawaz’s detention till the Sharifs left for Saudi Arabia. The family’s departure followed in the wake of a ‘deal’ being cracked.

After Nawaz was disqualified from holding public office on July 28, 2017 by the Supreme Court, the PML-N awarded a ticket to Kulsoom to contest elections from Nawaz’s NA-120 constituency in Lahore.

A hospitalised Kulsoom emerged victorious in the by-polls. Daughter Maryam is credited with running her election campaign.

A then ailing Kulsoom was not able to take oath. She remained MNA-elect till the PML-N government completed its five-year tenure on May 31, 2018.