By Mubasher Bukhari
LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – The wife of ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will contest a special election for the parliamentary seat he was forced to vacate last month after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding office, party officials said.
Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif will be the candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party in the by-election to be held in about 45 days, Sharif adviser Asif Kirmani told reporters in the eastern city of Lahore.
“We have submitted nomination papers for Mrs. Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif,” Kirmani said.
The announcement comes as Nawaz Sharif leads a “homecoming” caravan to Lahore that has drawn thousands of supporters protesting his removal by the top court over unreported income, a move he has described as unfair.
Kulsoom, who has never run for office, will be canvassing for votes in Sharif’s political stronghold inside Lahore’s Walled City, where her husband has never lost.
“We will, God willing, win this seat with a big majority,” Muhammad Safdar, Sharif’s son-in-law, who is also a member of parliament, said as he stood beside Kirmani.
Sharif’s ruling party last week elected one of his loyalists, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as prime minister.
Party leaders had previously suggested that Abbasi would hold office until elections due next year, a reversal of earlier indications that Sharif’s younger brother, Shahbaz, would seek the vacant seat and later take over as premier.
(Additional reporting by Asif Shahzad in Islamabad. Writing by Asif Shahzad and Kay Johnson; Editing by Nick Macfie)