Remembering Ammi

Published: June 25, 2012
The writer is an investment banker based in the UAE. He contributes regularly to The Express Tribune’s Business pages

The writer is an investment banker based in the UAE. He contributes regularly to The Express Tribune’s Business pages

“Ali bhai, Ammi’s surgery should have finished by now, but there are some complications, I will let you know in an hours’ time what happened”. This phone call from my sister on May 25 was the beginning of the end of my mother, Fauzia Wahab, who passed away on June 17. She was 55. We all thought that Ammi would walk out of the hospital with her trademark smiling demeanour. Even so, she fought valiantly in the face of multiple complications for 24 days.

Coming from a modest and conservative background, Ammi questioned the routes often decided by families for their daughters — a basic education immediately followed by marriage. Despite being a descendent of a leading religious scholar, Imdadullah Muhaajir Makki, she rebelled by choosing student politics and that, too, from the leftist platform of the Progressive Students Front at Karachi University. Having married my late father, Wahab Siddiqui, who was a leading journalist and one of the earliest political anchors on PTV, Ammi had 14 years of  ‘inactivity’, during which she bore four children and became involved with social projects like improving cleanliness in our area and creating a public park. She also arranged corner meetings for PPP candidates in the 1988 and 1990 general elections, which became her introduction to the party. Her life changed after February 1993, when our father died of cardiac arrest. In October 1994, while working for a leasing company, she received a phone call from her political mentor: “Fauzia, congratulations, you have been notified as a councillor in the KMC (Karachi Municipal Corporation), please go and take oath.”

The PPP in Karachi did not have many women who were active as well as educated in its cadre. Ammi was chosen as the information secretary of PPP Sindh’s women’s wing by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto but she faced many barriers to entry. She was harassed, lost her job and efforts were made to oust her from politics. But she kept absorbing the pressure to achieve her political goals. The 1997 elections were a disaster for the PPP. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto saw potential in Ammi’s communication skills and appointed her central coordinator of the party’s Human Rights Cell, which worked actively in highlighting cases of victimisation. The Mukhtaran Mai case was raised on all forums on behalf of the PPP and Ammi played an important role in establishing a relationship with the likes of the Aurat Foundation. Her dream of reaching the parliament was achieved in 2002, when she was nominated for a reserved seat for women from Sindh.

Ammi openly expressed her feelings at meetings and frequently quoted that a “House divided against itself cannot stand on its own”. Her frank opinions got her into trouble as well. While quoting the relevant Vienna Convention clauses relating to the immunity of Raymond Davis, who held a diplomatic passport, she drew the ire of the ghairat brigade. She resigned as information secretary not because she said something wrong but because it was something of an exclusive domain of the forces that matter in Pakistan.

As a single mother and political activist, I am proud of what Ammi achieved. When she passed away on the night of Shab-e-Miraj and a light shower followed her soyem, we could not have been happier for her, as she had left us for a better place.

On behalf of the family, I would like to thank all those who contacted us. The prayers and love made us strong and the turnout of people from all walks of life at her funeral and soyem is something we shall always remember.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (61)

  • M Usama Kabbir
    Jun 25, 2012 - 9:07PM

    I knew your mother for the last 3 Years Ali Bhai and she was a most lively, light hearted, hardworking and simple lady i have met. I will never forget her motherly love. May Allah Bless her . I will always miss Mohtarma Fauzia Wahab. I have her last memory, smiling away at Murtaza Bhai’s wedding this April. We lost a gem.


  • Ali Khan
    Jun 25, 2012 - 9:20PM

    Moving tribute. RIP Mohtarma Fauzia Wahab!


  • SK - Salman
    Jun 25, 2012 - 9:25PM

    @Ali Wahab: My deepest condolences on the passing away of a great leader, your mother. The nation has lost a woman of integrity and an outspoken defender of her Party. In these times of corruption, loot, and plunder, we were lucky to have a woman leader who had an impeccable reputation for honesty and transparency. There are many of us who do not subscribe to the philosophy of PPP but always admired your mother’s assiduous dedication and capability to defend her party, and specially the rights of the dis-enfranchised and the oppressed masses. It is also admirable to see your courage and dignity with which you are bearing this great personal loss. Our prayers are with you for the merciful God to give you patience and be with you in these difficult times.


  • Toticalling
    Jun 25, 2012 - 9:51PM

    I enjoyed her TV appearances. She spoke with native Lucknow urdu. We are all one family.
    There are not many people around who show loyalty with passion. Recommend

  • Umair Khan
    Jun 25, 2012 - 10:17PM

    being Muslim we should not be happy at anyone`s death even if he is one with whom we disagreed the most. may Allah forgive us all and grand us Jannah. but let me tell you, the party she supported, system which she praised, she corrupt government which she defended, her name cannot be written in golden names at all.


  • Marium Ammar
    Jun 25, 2012 - 10:20PM

    Im deeply touched by what you have written up there. It makes one think that the person coming on telelvision and talking about our country is not just a political person but also a mother/wife/sister etc. Quite often we forget all this and say things without thinking. I wouldnot like to get into the details but Id jsut like to say that your mother was a brave lady. When other women think of working towards creating a better home, a better relationship with their family and other such things your mother decided to work for the country making sure that she doesnt ignore her children and family. May ALLAH swt forgive her, grant her a place in Jannat and give you all patience to bear with this loss. Aameen.


  • Muhammad Naveed
    Jun 25, 2012 - 10:20PM

    May her soul rest in peace….Missing sweet smile of aunt.A great personality she was.My prayers are with her and all of you.Need prayers from all of you.


  • Humza Ikram
    Jun 25, 2012 - 10:31PM

    NFP rightly described her as ‘laughing warrior ‘ . We lost a gem of person way too early .

    RIP Mohtarma Fauzia Wahab!


  • Mian Khaliq
    Jun 25, 2012 - 10:34PM

    Innanillah hi Wiinha Alahey Raji oon.


  • anonymous
    Jun 25, 2012 - 10:35PM

    Love for mother always makes one sensitive.

    May God bless this Ammi and her kids.


  • Jun 25, 2012 - 10:43PM

    moving tribute. might not agree with her political views but thats not important and does not take away the fact that you probably had the biggest loss of your life. Allah maghfirat farmaye.


  • Riaz Khan
    Jun 25, 2012 - 10:45PM

    Beta, I did not knew your mother but watching her on TV who was fully confident & convincing even to the most difficult questions with her smiles made me realize that she surely was a very different person. Hearing about her death was like losing my own real sister. World has become a much poorer place without her! She surely was an asset to Pakistan & the world. May God give you and other family members the courage to bear this irrepairable loss.


  • Hasan Bilgrami
    Jun 25, 2012 - 11:12PM

    A woman of head and heart, an amazing sucess story, someone who drew praise from all political corners, an icon of integrity in a party which is touted as corrupt she has blazed a trail bright enough for all of us to admire and miss her.Recommend

  • zanjabeel
    Jun 25, 2012 - 11:20PM

    Dear Ali Bhai,
    I know your Dad Marhoom Wahab Siddiqui when I was in University Of Karachi and listening his speech for election campaign and united front won against jamiat .What a terrific speaker(orator) he was! May Allah bless them.Sorry for the loss.


  • An Admirer
    Jun 25, 2012 - 11:40PM

    A lady who made a difference with a different style!!!

    Fauzia Wahab was indeed a remarkable lady who use to leave a deep impact on ppl life. one might not always agree with all her political views but then one also couldn’t resist saying that she is one knowledgeable and well informed lady in today’s politics. Yes…. She did used to defend her party to the utmost extend but that too in a very well mannered,educated way and very convincingly .
    My deepest condolence to her family members for them the loss is for a life time and i am sure its unbearable. But this loss is equally shared by the Pakistani nation aswell.
    May she get the heightest position in Janna and all the blessings of Allah be showered on her family always. Aamen


  • An Admirer
    Jun 25, 2012 - 11:53PM

    A lady who Made a difference witha different style!!!

    Fauzia Wahab was a remarkable lady . She use to leave a deep impact on anybody she use to meet regardless for how short the meeting was.
    One might not use to agree with her political views every time but then one couldnt also resist saying that she is one educated,decent and well informed lady in today’s politics. Yes she did use to defend her party to the utmost extend and that showed how loyal she was to PPP.
    She always defended her part in a very well mannered way and very convincingly.
    My deepest comdolence for her family, this loss which is for a life time must be unbearable for them but they shouldn’t forget at anytime that they are the children a struggler.
    This loss of theirs is shared by the whole of Pakistani nation.
    May Allah grant her the highest possible place in janna and the blessings of allah be always showered of her family.


  • Mustafa Kamal
    Jun 26, 2012 - 12:43AM

    Deepest condolence!!


  • Shahrukh
    Jun 26, 2012 - 12:50AM

    Dear Ali,
    Indeed it’s a great loss for all of us. Although I never met with her but I can well imagine how strong lady she was as her life was full of struggle and for the wellness of other people. May Allah bless her peace and give patience to you and your family to bear this loss. AmeenRecommend

  • Rajendra Kalkhande
    Jun 26, 2012 - 12:58AM

    Ali Bhai my heart felt condolence on the sad demise of your loving mother. First time I noticed you mother on a TV program posted on you tube I found her extremely polite, cultured and well informed. After watching this program, I followed her in many TV debates and found her a very reasonable Pakistani woman. She was a true ambassador of peace, love and compassion. May almighty bless her soul. May she guide you and your family members on the path laid by her. Recommend

  • Arif Ali
    Jun 26, 2012 - 1:42AM

    I recall being at the soyem of Fauzia Sahiba, and it was so refreshing to see the shower. Allah did bless her and took her from all of us.
    Great piece Ali bhai


  • Dasmir
    Jun 26, 2012 - 2:05AM

    Ali, your Ammi was an honest person.That was her greatness.An extremely rare now a days.You know what Ali,God due to some illogical reason take good ones from us.I wonder why?Does he need them more or we do.I will ask him this when I meet him.


  • Uza Syed
    Jun 26, 2012 - 2:08AM

    You wrote a nice words about your mother and I’m sure it gives you some sense of fulfilling a duty that children owe to their parents, especially when a parent is as kind and loving as your mother must be for you all and as her friends and acquaintance confirm. Your mother was a fine person and you know it better than most here, your loss is immense and indeed irreparable, however she is gone physically from here and left you all to represent her goodness. Be good and this will be a perpetual tribute to Fauzia Wahab. May God be with her and be kind and merciful and forgiving, may she rest in peace and may you and your family find the strength to live without her with her fond memory.


  • gp65
    Jun 26, 2012 - 3:42AM

    Deepest condoloences.


  • zain
    Jun 26, 2012 - 4:41AM

    i had the honour of meeting your mother once in muzzafarabad, she was there for some party meeting with other ppp members, and i must confess that she was really humble, i got really excited after seeing so many ministers and ppp faces, i waved at them, ms wahab was the only one who waved back and passed a smile, i went to meet her and she was so warm, may her soul rest in peace! she was truely a commanmans leader!


  • Ashiq Hussain
    Jun 26, 2012 - 9:21AM

    condolences for your loss…!


  • Hamidullah
    Jun 26, 2012 - 9:21AM

    Mr. Ali Wahab,
    Thank you for sharing with us ignorant people about your great mother. May Allah rest her soul in peace. She was truly the face of PPP in Karachi and could have been used to better the relations with parties like MQM in the city, which unfortunately has been hogged by people who have no interest in Karachi. I hope you’d become the sadqa jaria for your great mother.


  • MK
    Jun 26, 2012 - 9:51AM

    Although I’m largely apolitical, I always admired her – she was one of the few graceful and educated politicians Pakistan had. I hope your family retains its strength in these difficult times, and may her soul rest in peace IA.


  • kag
    Jun 26, 2012 - 9:58AM

    It is now the time we should work for a legislations that after a certain age i.e. 65 years a surgeon should be retired from surgery, I am not against of any surgeon including Badar Siddiqui age 77 plus, my only contention after crossing the age he or she should supervise or monitor but not used his or her finger during the operation. Today it happens to her tomorrow it can happen to any one. It is in the public interest.


  • Rockstar
    Jun 26, 2012 - 10:02AM

    I wish Almighty Allah will give you strength to heal your loss, I remember when the nation is burning in flames of anger and disrespect because of Raymond Davis, Late Fauzia Wahab was first one who appeared on television and proudly announce the immunity of American agent, because of whom 5 people died and more then five family’s lost there dignity for living


  • Amir Nasiruddin
    Jun 26, 2012 - 10:10AM

    She was the symbol of bravery and courage.


  • salma
    Jun 26, 2012 - 10:34AM

    what a brave and courageous lady. i just wanna tell u mr.wahab that ur mother will always remain an inspiration 4 a middle class woman like me. ever since she fell ill, i prayed endlessly 4 her. and now when she z physically no more with ”us”, i keep her in my prayers all the time. may Allah give u and ur family the courage 2 bear the loss. my family z so proud of ur mother. may ms wahab rest in peace (ameen).


  • Amer
    Jun 26, 2012 - 11:06AM

    Innanillah hi Wiinha Alahey Rajioon.


  • Girl student
    Jun 26, 2012 - 11:51AM

    Very proud of your mother and her accomplishments…RIP


  • fuad
    Jun 26, 2012 - 11:57AM

    Inna Lillah he Wa Inna Elahi Rajeeon,

    It was indeed a sad day for even those of us who knew her from her TV appearances. She might not have been representing my favorite party, but somehow she left a void which will remain unfilled. Having seen her last on Hamid Mir’s show on the Karachi Port, it was hard to believe that two days later the channels would announce a ‘complication’ in her operation.

    In today’s political arena, the fact that her name remain unblemished is an achievement the entire family can be proud of, for not many among her ranks can boast of such an achievement.


  • mystreeman
    Jun 26, 2012 - 12:39PM

    RIP Madam Fouzia Wahab. She was a woman of courage.


  • Sam
    Jun 26, 2012 - 1:16PM

    Dear Ali your loss is irreparable but at the same time Pakistan lost a great daughter and will always be missed in Pakistani politics. May Allah rest her soul in peace.


  • Bushra
    Jun 26, 2012 - 1:48PM

    Fauzia was not only my elder sister but also my best friend and confidante. She was an amazing person who persevered against all adversities that life dealt her. Our loss is irreparable, and the only solace is that she has left behind wonderful, responsible children who made her proud while she lived, and it is without doubt, have and will continue to do so in her absence.


  • Qasim
    Jun 26, 2012 - 1:54PM

    May her soul rest in peace. Ameen.


  • Riaz Khan
    Jun 26, 2012 - 2:44PM

    Her kids should come in politics to take her name forward!


  • Naveed Javed
    Jun 26, 2012 - 4:50PM

    Indeed we lost a gem; My deepest condolences with you and your family- More Power!


  • kag
    Jun 26, 2012 - 5:07PM

    Remembering her is not enough it is my appeal that this government should passed a legislation regarding the retirement age of a surgeon. I m not against of Dr. Badar Siddiqui age 77 plus, my only concern after crossing a certain age a surgeon should keep his or her hand off from any surgery. He or she should suprvise or conduct but not do the surgery by himself. Today it is her tomorrow it can happen to me or to any one. It’s time that the governemnt should seriously take this matter.


  • Macbeth
    Jun 26, 2012 - 6:12PM

    Ali, did PPP repay it’s debt to your mother by honoring and respecting her? I don’t remember any of the bigwigs from PPP attending her funeral. I have admiration and respect for your mother but I do not agree with her political views or her chosen party. I hope the PPP remembers and respects what she did for them fearlessly and with a passion.Recommend

  • Ali Wahab
    Jun 26, 2012 - 6:30PM

    Thank you everyone for your kind words on what I wrote. This is the bare minimum I can do for my mother. All those who hated her because of her unflinching association with the PPP will for sure miss her.

    @Macbeth: We as a family are much above these points of PPP repaying its debt to my mother. My mother did everything because she was passionate about the party and Pakistan. She believed that political and democratic process was the only way problems of the people can be resolved. It doesn’t matter which bigwig came or who didnt. All that matters is that who cared for her were all there during the three weeks of hospitalization, her funeral and soyem and trust me, there were thousands! My mother’s life’s central idea was Iqbal’s Bachay Kee Dua which we all recite throughout school life but do not follow. That is the famous Lab Pay Aati hay Dua. She got love, respect and admiration from the common man of Pakistan which matters more than anything else. As a matter of fact checking, please search as to who came and who didnt!


  • Macbeth
    Jun 26, 2012 - 7:32PM

    @Ali Wahab: Thank you Ali for your prompt and effective reply. I see that you inherited the great communication skills of your mother. I agree that there were thousands who cared and prayed for her. May Allah (SWT) forgive her sins and bless her soul, Ameen!


  • zaeem
    Jun 26, 2012 - 9:00PM

    My condolences Mr. Ali
    Thanks for letting us know. This side of your mothers life never got to us.


  • zaeem
    Jun 26, 2012 - 9:06PM

    Ms. Fauzia Wahab got the best of nights for departure. May Allah grant her the highest place in Paradise


  • Dr Saifur Rehman
    Jun 26, 2012 - 9:15PM

    I had honour to meet mother of the nation twice in my life, for the first time at her home in karachi and second time at president house. By God, I have never seen such a sincere and
    an honest person in my life. She was real asset to not only her party, Pakistan Peoples Party but Pakistan too. she always treated PPP Jiyalas like her own sons. She always gave me motherly love and I always felt myself proud enough to have such greatest mother of the nation. Like every jiyala, I lost my guide, my leader, my teacher and my mother. I’ll miss her forever. Bro Ali, Fauzia Wahab was not only your Ammi but she was the Ammi of whole nation. She was mother of the nation and absolutely admirable woman. Whole nation went in deep shock when sad news of her untimely death broke. Tears from my eyes were unstoppable and whole nation was mourning over her death. May God bless her soul and award her highest place in the heavens. She was the great democratic leader, her untimely death is a big blow for Pakistan and the vacuum created after her death will never be filled. She was an honest and the great lady, an outspoken secular and visionary leader and a woman of highest integrity.
    She fought for democracy, human rights and women empowerment. She is an iconic figure for all the lovers of democracy. Her sacrifices for her party, Pakistan Peoples Party, were matchless and would be long remembered. She is no more but her legacy remains with us. We all should continue her mission. To honour her efforts for democracy and her services rendered for fundamental human rights, the government should confer Pakistan’s highest civil award, Nishaan-i-Imtiaz, posthumously on her.


  • Amin Ali
    Jun 27, 2012 - 12:29AM

    A moving tribute by a son. One hopes and prays that Fauzia sahiba’s children now make her proud


  • Midhat shamim
    Jun 27, 2012 - 12:29AM

    She was a brave woman and a fighter.we always missed you and love you Fozia bhabI.Your death is a very big loss for all of us may your soul rest in peace Ameen.


  • Bittu
    Jun 27, 2012 - 2:31AM

    May Allah give her highest mukaam in Jannah and muaaf her all deeds she did for PPP’s beneift which debenifed the public of Pakistan – I admire her as a strong person, spokesperson and a graceful lady !


  • Saman Khalil
    Jun 27, 2012 - 1:38PM

    Ali, this is one of the best Columns you have ever written coz this is directly from the core of ur heart. Apart from her other best things, the way she brought up u guys is her greatest achievement. Behtareen Aulaad Walidain kay Liye sadq e Jariya hoti hai and She still holds that blessing. May Allah rest her soul in peace to the best place in heaven, Ameen.


  • Fahad
    Jun 27, 2012 - 4:47PM

    A very nice and touching article. It reminds us that somethings should be apolitical and free from all sorts of partisanship viz the maternal bond. May she RIP Ameen.


  • Ch Faisal Mahmood
    Jun 27, 2012 - 5:29PM

    Ali. Accept my deepest condolences. May her soul rest in peace (Ameen)
    I still remember the evening of May 24th when I last met her, Rollers in her hair, she was about to go for last TV talk show of her life with the usual enthusiasm and grace. Then I also witnessed her fighting bravely against her complications in hospital. She was a treasure we all are rightly proud of. She was wonderful human being, very lively, graceful and dignified with logic and knowledge she was very outspoken. I often asked her to please be little diplomatic and every time she told me that whatever she think is right and true she will speak it loud and clear. Very hard working, entire Pakistan was her constituency. I witnessed her many times helping unknown needy people from different parts of Pakistan with typical smile on her face. Her soul definitely is very contented by seeing you and Murtaza they way you had face the biggest tragedy and loss of your lives. .May Allah gives you sabar e jameel. (Ameen)


  • Y Malik
    Jun 27, 2012 - 9:36PM

    Losing a mother is the biggest tragedy. Prayers for your ammi. Could you as a service to her make sure that respected doctors at OMI are not harassed?


  • Raza Khan
    Jun 27, 2012 - 11:04PM

    She was a great woman! Pakistan is much poorer without her! RIP


  • Amin Ali
    Jun 29, 2012 - 3:19PM

    She was a woman of substance. We will miss her surely


  • Anjabeen Shah
    Jun 29, 2012 - 7:31PM

    I loved watching Fauzia Wahab on TV Talk Shows and would keep switching channels to check if she were on. It did not matter which channel. Fauzia Wahab was the focus always. I loved hearing her views, in her sweet clear tones, her subtle condescension of thos ewho opposed her without success, her bold attacks, her vast knowledge , and the way she always succeeded in making her point.
    It is indeed a terrible loss for her family members who were her nearest and dearest. MAy God give all her children and family sabr-e-jameel, and may her soul rest in eternal peace. Ameen


  • Sadaqat Ahmad
    Jul 16, 2012 - 10:15AM

    She was an asset to Pakiastan and Pakistan Peoples Party, May Allah Bless her Soul Ameen


  • Ahmed Ali Khan
    Jul 19, 2012 - 12:48PM

    The Express Tribune has done a great job in highlighting a woman politician who belonged to the grass roots. They could have chosen to have fake tributes but one from a family member goes to show the merit of the text than the name of the writer. Thank you Mr. Ali Wahab for presenting the thoughts about your mother. Hope you or a family member writes a biography on her.


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