KARACHI: Senior Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and National Assembly Member Fauzia Wahab passed away on Sunday evening.
Her condition worsened on Saturday night due to complications after her primary gall bladder surgery. She had been admitted at the Orthopedic Medical Institute (OMI) since May 27.
Fauzia Wahab was born in November, 1956 and was only 56 years old when her life support system was shut down at the hospital.
She leaves behind four children, Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Ali Wahab, Sadi Wahab and Maheen Wahab, and widower Dr Athar Hussein. Fauzia Wahab was one of the most famous personalities in the PPP, who would often appear on television channels to robustly defend her party.
She received her initial education in former West Germany where her father was posted at the Pakistan Embassy, and completed high school from the Khatoon-e-Pakistan Girls College Karachi in 1974. Later, she graduated from Karachi University (KU).
Journalists and friends recall Fauzia Wahab’s interest in literature. She used to have a large collection of books, including on French philosophers.
Her interest in politics, however, began during her student life at the University of Karachi. Federal Urdu University media department head Professor Tauseef Khan recalled that Fauzia had joined the Progressive Students Federation during her years at the university.
Her friend Yasmin Riaz told The Express Tribune via telephone from the US that Fauzia was a student of international relations at KU, while her future first husband Wahab Siddiqui studied at the department of general history.
“Fauzia was a loyal friend, good mother and very good person,” she said.
When her husband died, Fauzia, who belonged to a middle class family, worked at various organisations to support her children. She also worked for Pakistan Industrial and Commercial Leasing Limited as a marketing manager between 1993 and 1996.
Later, she married Dr Athar Hussain, a senior cardiologist.
Fauzia also had a stint in television and acted in Haseena Moin’s drama series called “Kohar” in 1991.
Another contemporary from those years, Sultan Hasan recalled that Fauzia’s political training during her years at the university actually helped her begin her active political career with the PPP, which essentially started after her husband’s death in 1993.
She worked in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and in 1998, Wahab became the central coordinator of the PPP’s human rights cell.
“Soon after she became head of the human rights cell, Benazir Bhutto was very impressed by her work because of her strong communication skills. She pleaded the party case well,” PPP MNA Shagufta Jumani said.
She also worked against the Hudood Ordinance and blasphemy law and suffered threats to her life from militant organisations as a result.
Later, slain former premier Benazir Bhutto nominated her as the information secretary of the PPP’s women wing in Sindh, a position she held till early 2002.
“She was a brave woman who always used to stick to her viewpoint in party meetings without any fear. She asked Benazir Bhutto to allot her a general seat ticket instead of the reserved seat in the last general elections,” said PPP senator Saeed Ghani.
When Sherry Rehman resigned from her position as information minister, Fauzia was appointed the information secretary of the PPP. But some of her comments irked the party leadership during the Raymond Davis fiasco in February 2011 when she had stated, “Davis has a diplomatic visa therefore he neither be arrested nor kept in custody under the Vienna Convention.” After these words she was removed from her position as information secretary, but retained her MNA status.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2012.