Tens of thousands of people defied scorching heat in Pakistan on Friday to attend funeral prayers for the wife of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Political workers, civil society activists, traders and journalists gathered in the eastern city of Lahore to pay their last respects to Begum Kulsoom.
Kulsoom died at a clinic in London on Tuesday after a year-long battle with cancer. She was 68.
Sharif, a three-time premier now serving time in a Pakistani jail for corruption, was released temporarily on parole on Tuesday to attend the funeral.
The couple’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, and her husband were also released from prison to accompany the former leader.
Kulsoom remained apolitical for most of his life, except for a short period when former military ruler Pervez Musharraf arrested her husband following a coup in 1999.
It was thanks to political agitation led by Kulsoom that Pakistani generals allowed Sharif to go into exile in Saudi Arabia, despite having been handed a death sentence by a court.
Though funerals are considered somber occasions in Pakistan, thousands of Sharif’s loyalists chanted slogans to denounce his conviction.
Legal experts say powerful generals and judges colluded to punish Sharif for his attempt to seek civilian supremacy in Pakistan, a country that was ruled by the army for almost half of its history.
Sharif remains Pakistan’s most popular leader, despite the conviction and his party’s defeat in controversial elections in July.
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