Wonders Women

Ms Parveen Shakir

Parveen Shakir (November 24, 1952 - December 26, 1994) was an Urdu poet, teacher and a civil servant of the Government of Pakistan. Shakir started writing at an early age and published her first volume of poetry, Khushbu to great acclaim, in 1976. She subsequently published other volumes of poetry - all well-received - Sad-barg [Marsh Marigold] in 1980, Khud Kalami [Soliloquy] and Inkar [Denial] in 1990, Kaf e Aina [The Mirror's Edge] besides a collection of her newspaper columns, titled Gosha-e-Chashm [The Sight Corner], and was awarded one of Pakistan's highest honors, the Pride of Performance for her outstanding contribution to literature. The poetry books are collected in the volume Mah e Tamam [Full Moon] with the exception of Kaf e Aina.

Shakir was highly educated with two master’s degrees, one in English Literature and one in Linguistics. She also held a PhD and another master’s degree in Bank Administration. Shakir's ghazalyaat are considered "a combination of classical tradition with modern sensitivity", and mainly deal with the feminine perspective on love and romance, and associated themes such as beauty, intimacy, separation, break-ups, distances, distrust and infidelity and disloyalty. Shakir's poetry was well-received, and after her untimely death she is now considered one of the best and "most prominent" modern poets Urdu language has ever produced. Hailed as a "great poetess," her poetry has drawn comparisons to that of Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad, and she is considered among the breed of writers "regarded as pioneers in defying tradition by expressing the "female experience" in Urdu poetry. Shakir died in 1994 in a car accident while on her way to work.

Dr Shamshad Akhtar

Dr Shamshad Akhtar was appointed by the then President Pervez Musharraf as the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan for three years in December 2005. She was the 14th governor of the State Bank and the first female to assume this position. Previously, she also held positions with the Asian Development Bank. Born in the city of Hyderabad, Sindh, Dr Akhtar completed her Ph.D in Economics from Scotland's Paisley College of Technology. She has an M.S. in Economics from Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad and an M.A. in Development Economics from the University of Sussex, England. In 1987 she attended Harvard University under the Fulbright program. Furthermore, she served in the World Bank prior to joining the State Bank of Pakistan.

Prior to her appointment as SBP Governor, Dr. Akhtar has been serving the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as its Director General, Southeast Asia Department since January, 2004. Earlier, she was Deputy Director General of the Department. She also held the position of Director, Governance, Finance and Trade Division for East and Central Asia Department of ADB. Dr. Akhtar also contributed to the development of diversification of financial markets including the analysis of monetary policy and state of banking industry (at the World Bank) and restructuring of the Securities & Exchange Commission, Insurance Commission and worked closely with the private sector including the stock exchanges of Pakistan. She has been advising the central banks on reforms of financial markets.

MS Naheed Akhtar

Naheed Akhtar (or Nahid Akhtar) is a Pakistani playback singer. She was discovered by veteran musician M. Ashraf in the mid-1970s. Naheed Akhtar was a replacement of Runa Laila, who had left Pakistan the same year. Her debut film was Nanha Farishta in 1974 and that year she sang songs in the film Shama. Journalist Asif Ali Pota married her in the mid-1980s, when she left the film scene. In her entire musical career, Naheed took keen interest in her profession. She always strived to attain a first class level of performance. Naheed Akhtar is married to Jang Group's senior investigative journalist Asif Ali Pota.

Doctor Noor Jehan Panezai

Doctor Noor Jehan Panezai is a women Politician from Pakistan .She served as Deputy Chairperson of the Senate from 1991 to 1993. She was elected Member of National Assembly of Pakistan Muslim League on reserved seats for women. Noorjehan Panezai trained as a medical doctor, elected as a member of the National Assembly, against one of the special seats for women in 1985. She was the only female senator in 1988-94, Minister for Health, Social Welfare and Women Division in the caretaker government in 1990. Later she became MP again. She is the only notable lady politician from the province of Baluchistan.

MS Nasim Wali Khan

Nasim Wali Khan is a politician in Pakistan. Nasim Wali Khan is a major leader of Awami National Party. Nasim Wali Khan is the former provincial president and parliamentary leader of the Awami National Party in Provincial Assembly of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. She was one of the main leaders of the Pakistan National Alliance and made history in 1977 as the first woman elected from a Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province general seat in the 1977 election. Nasim Wali Khan married Khan Abdul Wali Khan in 1954 and she is the mother of Sangeen Wali Khan (late) and the step mother of Asfandyar Wali Khan.

Madam Fatima Surayya Bajia

Fatima Surayya Bajia, is a renowned Urdu novelist, playwright and drama writer of Pakistan. She has been awarded various awards at home and abroad including Japan's highest civil award in recognition of her works. She also remained Advisor to the Chief Minister of Sindh province in Pakistan.

Born on 1 September 1930 in Hyderabad, India, she has never attended a formal school, all her education took place at home, but instead she is ranked an eminent intellectual, reader and writer. One of ten children, her other siblings include: Anwar Maqsood, Zehra Nigah, Zubaida Tariq (cooking expert) and Mrs Kazmi, a famous dress designer. She is a well-known personality in Pakistan with relation to the radio, television and stage and an ardent feminist. She has wrote many long plays. She contributed for the literary programmes like Auraaq, and beauty care programmes under the title Aaraish-e-Khaam-e-Kakal and she also produced some children programmes.

Ms Zeba

Zeba is a film actress from Pakistan. Her real name is Shaheen, but she adopted the name Zeba. She starred in the 1966 film ARMAN which was produced by actor and producer Waheed Murad She started her career from Karachi. After the introduction of color movies, she first appeared in Najma. Rishtah hey pyar ka was her first film which was shot overseas. Her first Platinum Jubilee movie was Armaan which was also Pakistan's first Platinum Jubilee Urdu film. Armaan was produced by Waheed Murad himself and directed by Pervaiz Malik. The movie was released on 18 March 1966. During the same year, Zeba and Waheed Murad were teamed up in two other movies, i.e., Josh and Jaag utha insaan. Insaan aur aadmi was produced by Shabab Kiranvi. She played young-to-old role in Insaan aur aadmi in the year 1968 when she was only 29 years old. She starred in only one Punjabi film named Mehndi wale hath, whereas she had worked with a total of 45 film directors. Her last film was Mohabbat ho to aesi released in 1989. She is undeniably the most graceful actress Pakistani film industry has ever seen and is the unopposed beauty queen of Pakistani cinema.

Barrister Shahida Nighat Jamil

Barrister Shahida Nighat Jamil (born 30 January 1944) is a Pakistani lawyer and politician. She was called to the Bar in 1973. Prior to that she graduated from Sindh Muslim Law College and holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in political science and English literature from Karachi University through St. Joseph's College. She is the only daughter of the late Shah Ahmed Sulaiman (a businessman and son of Sir Shah Sulaiman) and the late Begum Akhtar Sulaiman (a prominent social worker and daughter of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy). She is married to Chaudhry Mohammad Jamil (a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Vice-President of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association). They have two sons, Zahid Jamil (a barrister in Karachi) and Shahid Jamil (a solicitor in London).

She became the first woman to be appointed as the Law Minister of Sindh province in 1999 and became the Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights and Parliamentary Affairs of Pakistan in 2000. She has also served as Minister for Women Development, Social Welfare and Special Education in the caretaker government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mian Soomro from 2007 to 2008.

Ms Nilofar Bakhtiar

Nilofar Bakhtiar (born 9 September 1957) is a public official in Pakistan. She was Federal Minister for Tourism in Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's cabinet until a scandal forced her to resign. She remains a senator. Bakhtiar has worked toward improving women's social status, as well as working in areas of health and education.

She was born in Bannu. The family has a background of social work and military service. Her father was retired from army as colonel while her two brothers retired from brigadier rank.Begum Ali Malik, Bakhtiar's mother, was a renowned social worker and was also the founder and chairperson of The National Committee for the Repatriation of POWs after the 1971 war. At that time Begum Ali Malik went all over the world and met with Heads of State, and politicians including the Pope in Italy. Nilofar got passionately involved in social work right from childhood.

For high school Bakhtiar attended Presentation Convent Girls High School in Rawalpindi. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the Punjab University and a Masters in Public Administration from Carnegie Mellon University. She serves on the board of numerous educational and civic bodies. Bakhtiar has served in the Senate of Pakistan since March 2006.

Ms Nazia Hassan

Nazia Hassan (April 3, 1965 – August 13, 2000) was an iconic Pakistani pop singer. Her song "Aap Jaisa Koi" from the Indian film Qurbani (1980) made her a legend and pop icon in Pakistan and all of South Asia in the 1980s, where she is admired and loved even today, years after her death. Her debut album Disco Deewane (1981) also charted in fourteen countries worldwide and became the best-selling Asian pop record up until that time. Nazia Hassan, along with her brother Zohaib Hassan, went on to sell over 60 million records worldwide. Nazia was the first Pakistani to win a Filmfare Award and remains the youngest winner of a Filmfare Award in the category of Best Female Playback Singer to date. She was 15. Nazia Hassan was born in Karachi, Pakistan and from an early age showed interest in music. Nazia began singing during the late 1970s, when she appeared on several television shows on PTV as a child artist. By the end of the 1980s, Nazia had become the most popular pop singer of Pakistan. Pakistan's vibrant contemporary music scene owes itself to Nazia Hassan's redefinition of pop. Pakistan's vibrant contemporary music scene owes itself to Nazia Hassan's redefinition of pop. Nazia also had a seismic impact in India. "India Today" magazine voted her as one of the top 50 people who helped change the face of India. Nazia used her iconic status to promote social causes. All the money earned from music was spent on charity. She relentlessly worked for special children and for youth and women in distress residing in the underprivileged areas of Karachi. Surprisingly, music was only a hobby for Nazia and though her achievements in this field were anyone’s dream comes true, she lived away from the glitzy world and led a secluded and simple life. She completed her education in the UK, got a law degree and then worked in the United Nations in the Security Council. Nazia continued her social work even in New York and worked for children from UN platform.

She is known as the "Sweetheart of Pakistan". Nazia Hassan is still the symbol of grace, sacred beauty and innocence and is frequently compared to Princess Diana, as she was known to possess a heart of gold. Nazia died of lung cancer in London on August 13, 2000 at the age of 35, just ten days after her divorce from Mirza Ishtiaq Baig.

Ms Malika Pukhraj

Malika Pukhraj (b1912 - 2004) was a highly popular singer of Pakistan. She was generally called as "Malika" meaning "The Queen." She is extremely popular for her rendition of Hafeez Jalandhri’s song, Abhi to main jawan hoon ("I am still youthful"), which is enjoyed by millions not only in Pakistan, but also in India.  Her popular numbers were,Lo phir basant aaya and Quli Qutub's Piya baaj piyale piya jaye na and Faiz Ahmed Faiz's Mere qatil mere dildar mere paas raho. Malika Pukhraj, was born in village Mirpur, on the banks of the River Akhnoor, 16 miles from Jammu. Malika Pukhraj, was coached by Ustad Ali Baksh Kasuri-father of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. At age nine, At nine she visited Jammu and performed at the coronation ceremony of Maharaja Hari Singh, who was so impressed by her voice that he appointed her as a court singer in his Durbar, and she stayed there for another nine years. Over the next 8 decades she captivated her audience with her command over the singing genres of Thumri, Ghazal, Bhajan and folk Pahari Geet, including Dogri folk songs. She was among the greatest singers of British India in the 1940s, and after Partition of India in 1947, she migrated to Lahore, Pakistan, where she received further fame, through her radio performances with composer, Kale Khan.

In 1980, she received the Presidential Pride of Performance Award, Pakistan. In 1977, when All India Radio, for which she sang until Partition, was celebrating its Golden Jubilee, she was invited to India, and awarded with the 'legend of Voice' award. Malika Pukhraj also recorded her memoirs in the novel Song Sung True. Malika Pukhraj, died in Lahore on February 4, 2004.

Ms Shahnaz Wazir Ali

Shahnaz Wazir Ali is a social activist and a Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan. She is the chairperson of Higher Education Commission (HEC). Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali was born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. She holds a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Arkansas, USA and a Master's Degree in Education Administration from Trenton College, New Jersey. She has a Diploma in Principal's Certification from Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. Her Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication is from the American University, Washington, D.C. All her basic schooling was in Rawalpindi and Karachi.

She was the Executive Director of the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP), in Islamabad, Pakistan before becoming member of national assembly of Pakistan on a reserve seat for women.

Ms Reshma

Reshma, SI, is a renowned folk singer of Pakistan, who is popular in India too. She was born in Loha village of in Tahsil Ratangarh, Rajasthan to a Banjara (Gypsy) family about 1947. Her family moved to Pakistan during the partition of India soon afterwards. She says she does not have any training in classical music. In 2004 her rendition of Ashkan Di Gali Vich Mukaam De Gaya was in the top ten of the Indian charts.

Reshma once said in an interview, "I was born in a family of saudagars in Rajasthan in a small settlement called Bikaner. I don't know the year I was born but I was told that I was brought to Pakistan when I was a few months old in 1947. My family would take camels from Bikaner and sell them in other areas, and bring back goats and cows from elsewhere to sell at home. I belong to a huge clan of gypsies. We were forever travelling around. Though a lot of us have now settled and taken up permanent residences in Lahore and Karachi, whenever we feel restless we pack our bags and move on." She was discovered by the Pakistan radio and soon her voice was all around. She is currently residing in Dubai suffering with cancer. Recently on Hum TV, in Karachi, Pakistan, Reshma made it a point to let the audience know how unhappy she was with them, because she was forgotten and her social assistance monthly pay check which was permitted by Mushararf has been stopped by Zardari government.

Ms Abida Parveen

Abida Parveen (born 1954) , is a Pakistani singer of Sindhi descent and one of the foremost exponents of Sufi music (Sufiana kalaam). She sings mainly ghazals, Urdu love songs, and her forte, Kafis, a solo genre accompanied by percussion and harmonium, using a repertoire of songs by Sufi poets. Parveen sings in Urdu, Sindhi, Seraiki, Punjabi and Persian, and together with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is considered one of the finest Sufi vocalists of the modern era. A few years ago she has taken a Bay'ah, and formally entered into the tutelage of a spiritual master, Muhammad Najeeb Sultan. She has expressed Muhammad Najeeb Sultan as her spiritual master in many songs. In December 2009 she launched an album in his name. President of Pakistan’s Award for Pride of Performance (1982), and the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (2005).

Dr Fatima Shah

Dr Fatima Shah, who rendered many services for the handicapped in spite of her being blind, was born in 1914 in Bhera. Her father, the late Professor Abdul Majeed Kureshi, was the former chairman of the Mathematics department of Aligarh University. She received a gold medal in the High School examination from Aligarh University. She joined Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi and received the MacDonald scholarship of merit.

Dr Shah, who was one of the founding members of the All Pakistan Women’s Association, received an MBE (member of the British Empire) for her social services on the occasion of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She also founded the Pakistan Association of the Blind in 1960 which developed into a national self-help movement. She remained its president for 25 years, retiring in 1984. Dr Shah organized the Disabled People’s Federation of Pakistan to serve as a national affiliate to the Disabled Peoples’ International of which she was a world council member. She played a significant role in the establishment of a global body called the World Blind Union and also became a member of the Federal Council National Parliament.

Among the various awards bestowed upon her was the Takeo Iwahashi Award at Gothenburg, Sweden, which she received for her outstanding national services in the field of organization of self-help movements of blind people and their progress and development. The government of Pakistan also conferred upon her a Tamgha-i-Imtiaz.

Begum Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah

Begum Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah (July 22, 1915 - December 11, 2000), was a prominent Pakistani female politician, diplomat and author. She was the Ambassador of Pakistan to many countries. Born Shaista Akhtar Banu Suhrawardy in Calcutta, British India as the only daughter of Lt. Col. Dr. Hassan Suhrawardy, OBE. She was educated at Loreto House of the University of Calcutta with a BA Hons. After her marriage she left to study at the School of Oriental and African Studies, where she had the honor of being the first Muslim and Indian woman to receive a PhD, from the University of London. Her doctorate thesis "Development of the Urdu Novel and Short Story" was a critical survey of Urdu literature.

She married Mohammed Ikramullah, a member of the Indian Civil Service in 1933. Her husband later went on to become the first Foreign Secretary of the Government of Pakistan and Ambassador to Canada, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom. She was one of the two female representatives of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (1947). She was Pakistan's Ambassador to Morocco (1964 to 1967). She was a delegate to the United Nations on several occasions, and was a member of the Committee that worked on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the Convention Against Genocide.  She scored a notable victory over the redoubtable Krishna Menon on the issue of Kashmir at the United Nations. She died in Karachi on December 11, 2000 at the age of 85.

Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan

Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan February 13, 1905 - June 13, 1990) (née Sheila Irene Pant), DPhil, NI, was one of the leading woman figure in Pakistan Movement, along with her husband Liaquat Ali Khan, and career economist, and prominent stateswoman from the start of the cold war till the fall and the end of the cold war.  Ra'anna was one of the leading woman politician and nationwide respected woman personality who started her career in 1940s and witnessed key major events in Pakistan. She was one of the leading and pioneering woman figure in Pakistan Movement and served as the executive member of Pakistan Movement committee working under Muhammad Ali Jinnah. She also served as economical adviser to Jinnah's Pakistan Movement Committee and later became First Lady of Pakistan when her husband Liaqat Khan Ali became Pakistan's first Prime minister. As First Lady of Pakistan, she launched and constituent programs for woman's development in newly founded country. Later, she would went onto start her long career as stateswoman that would last a decade.

Because of her services and efforts for the medical and woman development and woman empowerment, Ra'ana is commonly known as "Māder-e-Pakistan" (English translation: Mother of Pakistan). Ra'ana went on to work and dedicated her life for the social and economic benefit of women of Pakistan till her death in 1990.

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