Renowned Pakistan Movement activist Fatima Sughra passed way after a protracted illness in Lahore late Sunday night. She was 86.
Sughra rose to fame at the tender age of 14 when she replaced the Union Jack with the Muslim League flag hoisted at the Civil Secretariat Lahore gate. Her act made her a symbol of defiance and inspiration for the Movement of Pakistan.
In 2007, in an interview with a British newspaper The Guardian, she said, “When I took down the British flag and replaced it with our Muslim League one, I didn’t think I really knew what I was doing. It wasn’t planned. I was rebellious at that age and it seemed like a good idea. I was not prepared for it to become such a big symbol of independence. They even gave me a Gold Medal for Services to Pakistan. I was the first ever to receive one.”
This step of hers encouraged many Muslim female supporters who were reluctant to come out of their houses to participate in the movement in support of Pakistan.
She said in the same interview to The Guardian, “On the day I took down the flag from the civil secretariat [the Punjab Civil Secretariat Building in Lahore – the main British building in the Punjab], the men came out in support of the women. That would never happen now. The women won’t take to the streets for a cause they believe in and, if they did, the men would never support them.”
Prominent columnist Orya Maqbool Jaan while talking to The Express Tribune said that Sughra became a heroic figure after she removed the Union Jack flag. She was a role model for other Muslim women activists, he said, adding that Muslim women were politically conscious, well aware, educated and active at that time compared to females of other communities. This was also evident from the activism of Muslim women during the Pakistan Movement and Sughra is also one such example, he added.
Sughra was awarded a gold medal and Life Time Achievement Award by the government of Pakistan and Pakistan Movement Workers Trust in recognition of her services during the Independence Movement. She was born in the Walled City, Lahore. She actively participated in the Pakistan Movement and also witnessed riots that erupted at that time.
Her funeral prayers were offered at E Block Johar Town after Zuhr prayer on Monday and she was laid to rest at the Miani Sahib graveyard on Monday (yesterday).
Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2017.