Getting to know my neighbour

Dr Fahmida Mirza is an inspiration to women, continues to take active interest both in party and in women’s caucuses


Anwer Mooraj April 12, 2014
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The lady and her husband have been my neighbours for well over two years. But we had never formally met. When we did come face to face, it was purely by chance and that, too, at the residence of the lady’s father-in-law, a distinguished former justice of the peace on whom I have called a few times to pay my respects. On this occasion, the family was celebrating the arrival of a great granddaughter. I don’t know if it’s the soil or the Sufi spirit, but the majority of the people in Sindh that I have met in our neck of the woods, irrespective of rank, fame or status, have been extremely courteous and have displayed a touch of humility. Dr Mirza is no exception. We got on like a house on fire. And so is his wife, an outstanding citizen.

In a country that prides itself on being one of the world’s most misogynistic and testosterone-fueled societies, Dr Fehmida Mirza’s appearance in the speaker’s chair at the start of the PPP-led coalition government was a welcome bloom in the brickwork. The fact that she replaced a man like Chaudhry Amir Hussain ought to have given her a special dispensation by the furies to let her carry on for at least 10 years. In case you are wondering to whom I am referring, Chaudhry A Hussain, the pick of the Q-League, established some kind of record for wasting public funds. He demanded a private aircraft, the most expensive car and an office that matched that of the president. He also sent planeload after planeload of assembly freeloaders on R&R to get a glimpse of the lake in Geneva. To top it all, he came across as an arch-reactionary.



As the 18th speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Mirza has the rare distinction of being the first woman to hold this office in this country and also the first woman speaker in the Muslim world. To give an indication of the amount of confidence that she generated at voting time, she outclassed her rival Sardar Israr Tareen by 249 to 70 votes. The votes polled were more than two-thirds of the 342-house required for a constitutional amendment. When the PPP flag fluttered in the breeze, she was often in the newspapers whenever a significant event had taken place in the capital or when a bill in its preliminary stage had been unwittingly derailed and needed to be put back on track. Whenever I saw her on the telly, she was composed, dignified and confident. Nobody had an unkind word for her. She displayed a level of honesty and transparency that endeared her to her colleagues and earned the admiration of her opponents. One of her great achievements was in galvanising women parliamentarians to play a more significant and meaningful role in the assembly. By mobilising female members into the first ever Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, she brought women together from across party lines. It was a cross fertilisation of talent, a sort of cultural osmosis to empower women in the social, political and financial world. In one fell swoop, women stopped toeing the party-line and fighting with one another and decided to act as a team. She is an inspiration to women and continues to take an active interest both in the party and in women’s caucuses and strongly feels the idea should also take root in the provincial assemblies. A report titled “Reaffirming Foundations” studded with facts and figures, which chronicles the achievements made during the five-year performance of the 13th National Assembly of Pakistan, was issued in 2013.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2014.

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COMMENTS (7)

rahim | 7 years ago | Reply please stop publishing this naive stuff - there is so much corruption tied to the woman let alone the fact that shes married to a gangster - for gods sake stop publishing this misleading rubbish ET!
Abid P. Khan | 7 years ago | Reply

@x: "@Abid P. Khan: Yes. " . With advancing age, I can no more discern the difference between good and bad. Perhaps there has never been one. It was my own naivity which made me believe in the existence of an utopia.

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