Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of Pakistan's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, easily won election Sunday to fill the seat he formerly held.
The victory by Kulsoom Nawaz was expected, since the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party is dominant in the central Lahore constituency. The former prime minister had held the seat since the mid-1980s, when he first entered national politics.
Official media reported the winning candidate had 61,254 votes, to just over 47,000 for her main rival, Yasmin Rahid of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. But above and beyond Sunday's by-election, the result was seen as a critical test for the Sharif dynasty ahead of Pakistan's national elections next year.
The country’s Supreme Court, which has been hearing a high-profile corruption case against Nawaz Sharif and his children, ruled in July that Sharif had concealed overseas assets, and ordered his removal from office for "dishonesty."
Kulsoom Nawaz is currently in London undergoing cancer treatment, with her husband at her side. Their daughter, Maryam Nawaz, ran the election campaign in her mother’s absence.
The younger woman, who has been described as a future leader by political insiders in Pakistan, addressed jubilant workers from the PML-N party late Sunday evening.
In her speech, televised live from the family residence in Lahore, Maryam Nawaz said outcome of the election demonstrated the “public’s love for Sharif,” and rejected his disqualification for office.
Pakistan's High Court said it dismissed Sharif because he had not reported monthly earnings he received from an overseas company owned by his son. The former prime minister denied that he had received any salary, or knew anything about the payments, which first were discovered after he was elected prime minister for a third time in 2013.
Sharif’s first term as Pakistan's prime minister, in the early 1990s, also ended abruptly when he was dismissed by presidential decree after being accused of corruption. Back in office a few years later, he was overthrown by a military coup in 1999 and exiled to Saudi Arabia along with other family members.