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Tehmina Durrani – a messiah for Pakistani women

tehmina durani
Saturday, March 17, 2012, was supposed to be a busy day for Tehmina Durrani. She had planned to visit a nearby district to donate wheelchairs, a cache of medicine and ambulances to a hospital.

Saturday, March 17, 2012, was supposed to be a busy day for Tehmina Durrani. She had planned to visit a nearby district to donate wheelchairs, a cache of medicine and ambulances to a hospital.

Instead, the occasion was “a day full of sorrow” . Before Tehmina could head-on with her plans, the news of tragic end of ‘Fakhra Younis dropped bomb-shell on her.

Fakhra Younis was a woman who became the disfigured face of the shunned and forgotten women of Pakistan had committed suicide, jumping from her sixth floor apartment window in Italy on March17, 2012.

Shockingly, the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan did nothing to help her who became the face of violence against women in the country.

It was then, Tehmina Durrani, author of “My Feudal Lord,” and one of Pakistan’s to social worker helped Yunus escape to Rome and get treatment for her disfigurement.

tehmina durrani with her husband Mian Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif

“ She was like a my child. News of her suicide shocked me,” Durrani told Times of turkey. 

“I have met many acid victims. Never have I seen one as completely disfigured as Fakhra. She had not just become faceless; her body had also melted to the bone, “she added.

Three years after Fakhara’s death Durrani founded ” Tehmina Durrani Foundation” to help out women in Pakistan and the entire Muslim world. Since then Durrani and her foundation are working relentlessly stop violence against women in Pakistan.

In a male dominant society of Pakistan where women prefer to take shelter behind their men, Tehmina Durrani is one of the most powerful feminine and feminist voice in Today’s Pakistan.

Tehmina Durrani was born into an educated and influential family. Her father, Shahkir Ullah Durrani, was the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, and the managing director of Pakistan International Airlines, while her mother, Samina Durrani, was a homemaker. From her mother’s side, Tehmina is the granddaughter of Nawab Sir Liaqat Hayat Khan, of the Khattar tribe; a prime minister of the former princely state of Patiala for eleven years. Sir Liaqat Hyat Khan himself was the brother of Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan, a pre-1947 Punjabi Indian statesman and leader.

Throughout her life Tehmina Durrani has been something of a rebel. Her work with victims of Acid terrorism could in some ways be seen in this regard. She is one of the first recognized people of Pakistan to be pictured touching those victims of Acid terrorism .This had a significant impact in changing people’s opinions and attitudes towards acid victims. Being the wife of Punjab’s Chief Minister Mian Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif, Tehmina could have chosen to live the life of a queen. Instead, she has chosen to live the life of a reformer and a social activist.

“I would like to be a queen in the hearts of the people,” Tehmina told this correspondent. 

History reveals that successful women who were married to successful, powerful men, stayed largely unnoticed or unrecognized in their times. But, Tehmina is an exceptional case. Not only did she play important role in making her husband a successful politician but also this brave lady decided not to get shelter behind her husband who is also the younger brother of Pakistan’s third time Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif.

Her controversial autobiography My Feudal Lord which was published in 1991, gave her recognition globally. It is now translated into 39 languages and is a European Bestseller. She has emerged as one of Pakistan’s leading human rights activist who is always willing to help everyone.

Tehmina founded Tehmina Durrani Foundation which is fast becoming one of the top charity organizations of South Asia.

“ I found Tehmina Durrani to be an incredibly brave woman, who despite her position as the Chief Minister’s wife opted to serve the silent people of Pakistan and managed to build her own identity beyond the shadows of the Sharif Family,” said Ansar Burney, a noted social worker.

Tehmina Durrani is a woman with a social conscience and spends most of her time at the premises of Tehmina Durrani Foundation headquartered in Lahore. She works diligently with a team of volunteers and like-minded people to help the poor and the needy who walk through her doors.

“ In 2001, Tehmina launched The Movement, Ana Hadjra Labaek, at the Future Show 3010 in Bolognia , Italy. Indeed, at that time it was futuristic to believe that women empowered with an Islamic symbol as proof of their Islamic rights, could move towards a peaceful transition to Islam’s ORIGINAL INTENTION through Ijtehad. Tehmina sent a clear message across the world, especially the women of the Muslim world that women will remain subjugated, not only by men but also by women conditioned by the patriarchal construct of mainstream Islam Until the Quran is not re-interpreted in a manner that does justice to its Original Intention,”  a document of her Ana Hadjra Labaek movement stated.

“ It is redundant to state that the current condition of Muslim Women, especially in terms of the self-image they have constructed consonant with the dominant image of a bearded and turbaned Islam is dismal. However long the issue has been debated, the quest for a solution remains. Until the Quran is not re-interpreted in a manner that does justice to its Original Intention women will remain subjugated, not only by men but also by women conditioned by the patriarchal construction of mainstream Islam. Two obstacles need to be crossed. First, the fear of change that will disturb the present balance,“ Tehmina said.

In 2002, one year after launching  of the Movement ‘Ana Hadjra Labaek, Tehmina  faced an ‘acid’ test for her commitment to Ana Hadjra Labaek when she stood up to demand the right of identity for two ‘dispensable’ Citizens of Pakistan including Fakhra Younas, a victim of Acid Terrorism and her five year old son Noman.

tehmina with FakhraFakhra Younis

“ The only sanctuary I could provide them was my own home, where my children, my staff and I were terrorized with life threats and acid attacks, while I confronted the criminals and fought the ‘laws’ of an ‘unlawful’ military government,” Tehmina told this correspondent adding “that finally after five grueling months, with the support of the media and the public pressure it ignited, the government issued identification papers for travel of victims.”

Research done by this correspondent revealed that Tehmina did everything to send Fakhra to Italy for treatment.

In Rome, Fakhra Yunas underwent 30 major surgeries in nine years, at the expense of the Italian Government. She succumbed to the excruciating agony of her existence and committed suicide on April 17, 2012.

“ I received her coffin draped in the Italian and Pakistani flags at Karachi, where Edhi sahib at Edhi home Kharadar led her funeral prayers. Fakhra’s son Noman continues to study at school in Rome, and remains under the supervision of an Italian family and myself,” Tehmina said.

In Pakistan, people familiar with Tehmina’s work compare her to Princess Diana, whose charity work for the victims of AIDS was acknowledged by many living across the globe.

Likewise, Tehmina’s work has widely been acknowledged by many living across the globe.

During her meeting with this correspondent last week at the office of Tehmina Durrani Foundation , she said her foundation would become a ‘global movement’ striving to educate and help the downtrodden , achieve their rights denied by the state.  She praised Edhi sahib for establishing a network of ambulances, orphanages and other basic needs for the poor.

“We must now adopt and spread his ideology,” she said, adding her organization would work with the Edhi Foundation to achieve its goals and operate on similar low-cost and transparent principles.

In September 2012, Tehmina received the award of ‘ Powerful Author’. The Pakistan Power 100 is born out of a simple vision; to create one of the most important events of its kind ever to be staged which would honour only the very highest levels of achievement from within the international Pakistani community and positively promote the outstanding contribution made by Pakistani men & women on a local, national and international level.

A pioneering, unique and prestigious event, the Pakistan Power 100 is the only event that pays tribute to Pakistani success across all walks of life; emphasizing inspiring achievements and highlighting inspirational role models in the fields of business, sport, entertainment, philanthropy, popular arts and culture. (Kaswar Klasra / Lahor – Times of Turkey)

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Kaswar Klasra

Kaswar Klasra

Kaswar Klasra is well Pakistani journalist with twelve years of experience of working for world’s leading publications. His worked has been published by news publications like Japanese monthly magazine FACTA, The Nation (Pakistan), News of The World ( London) , Los Angles Times ( USA), India Today, Brunei Times, Newsmax ( USA) , The Mirror ( UK), Daily Mail ( UK) , Progressive radio, Axel Springer, Mail Today ( India), Mumbai Mirror and The Journal of Turkish weekly. He can be reached at : kaswarklasra@yahoo.com
His tweeter handle is : @kaswarklasra

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