Ghazala Siddiqui had just snatched a pistol from a policeman and was about to fire when the men who attacked the Awami Tehreek rally at Napier road got to her first.
“When the Mohabbat-e-Sindh rally came under attack near Denso Hall, seven people were killed,” recounted her husband, Mazhar Zardari. “Ghazala was crying for help and asked a policeman to shoot the suspects.” When he didn’t, she snatched his pistol to try and defend them.
This information came to the family from women who were with Ghazala at the rally on Tuesday, May 22. “My younger brother had fever. Mom dropped him at her friend’s house, asked us to complete our homework and then left for the rally,” said Abu Zar, Ghazala’s elder son.
Her husband, Mazhar Zardari, who works abroad, said that he used to keep in touch with her every day through Skype. “I called on the morning of May 22 and found out that she had left for the rally. I became nervous because she very emotional about the Mohajir province issue,” he said. Zardari added that he dialled her mobile number, but got no response at first. “Then suddenly a nurse picked up and said that Ghazala had succumbed to her injuries,” he said.
The 43-year-old was working as an assistant manager for the marketing department of Pakistan International Airlines. Her husband currently works for the same organisation as a country manager in Italy. “She was a nationalist by nature and a true lover of Sindh. Her affection was exemplified after the flood in 2010-11,” he said. “Not only did she spend most of her time in relief camps in Karachi, but she sold all her jewelry for the cause as well.” She was trying to open a vocational training centre for flood survivors living in the Gulshan-e-Maymar camp.
“Whenever someone tries to harm the integrity of Sindh, its daughters of will be at the forefront of the battle,” Siddiqui had told a TV channel just minutes before the rally was attacked.
Ghazala Siddiqui was born in Paat Sharif, a village of Dadu which is known for its high literacy rate. Late Alama II Kazi, a scholar and former vice chancellor of Sindh University, also belonged to the same village. Her father Qazi Qutubuddin was a public relations officer for former chief minister Sindh, Ayub Khuhro. Her mother is a Rind Baloch from Lyari. Usman Baloch, a prominent social worker and trade union leader, is her maternal uncle.
Siddiqui went to primary school in Paat Sharif, but her family moved to Kalakot of Lyari during ‘Dacoit Raaj’ in Sindh during General Zia ul Haq’s reign. She continued her education at the NJV School on MA Jinnah Road. Her family lived in Lyari till her matriculation and then moved to Hyderabad. Siddiqui got her higher secondary education certificate at Zubaida Girls College. She did a diploma in Homeopathy and Medical Science and became a homeopathic physician. She simultaneously continued her education and did her Master’s in mass communication from Karachi University.
She was the only sister of five brothers and was politically inclined given the political environment at her home in Lyari where her maternal uncle, Usman Baloch, used to have meetings with trade union leaders and leftists.
Though the family lives in Gulstan-e-Jauhar, Siddiqui was laid to rest in the Steel Town graveyard. A large number of people, including political and social activists, have offered their condolences to her family. She is survived by her husband and three sons, who are pursuing their education at BVS High School in Saddar.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2012.