Fatima Jinnah the trail blazer


LAHORE: Alhamra Arts Council was bustling with historians and authors at the Think Fest 2018 organized by Information Technology University Lahore.

A variety of topics were discussed ranging from politics, education, history and media. One such discussion was on the book ‘Standing up to the Field Marshal: Fatima Jinnah of Pakistan’ by Raza Pirbhai. The session was moderated by Nadeem F Paracha.

Raza Pirbhai has written a book on Fatima Jinnah after research of five years because he wanted to show Fatima Jinnah as a person considering the fact that existing literature has covered her more as a politician and Jinnah’s sister.

The author studied Fatima Jinnah and about her influence on Pakistan, her role in the political scene up till her standing against Field Marshal Ayub Khan in 1965elections. The author also talked about Fatima Jinnah’s initial support to Ayub Khan at the timing of his take over in 1958 and how she changed her stance after a few years as Ayub Khan was taking more time to normalise the political scenario as visualised by Fatima Jinnah and that coupled with switch from democracy to basic democracies was not liked by her.

Raza Pirbhai then moves to Fatima Jinnah’s canditature against Ayub Khan as the candidate of the combined opposition parties which included the religious parties.

Pirbhai quoted from the media about Fatima Jinnah’s public and private behaviour and also talked about incidents of not granting her a permit to import a car for her use and not providing foreign exchange for a trip abroad.

Fatima Jinnah’s public appeal was highlighted by quoting her train journey in East Pakistan which took almost a day to reach its destination because people stood on the tracks to get a glimpse of her.

The talk was followed by a question answer session in which the audience asked about her relationship with the founding father of Pakistan, her changing from sari to shalwar kameez and how it affected the next generation of Pakistan. To a question the author agreed that Fatima Jinnah was a trail blazer and role model for women in politics and still continues to be so.

Modern Afghanistan

Another very interesting discussion was on the topic ‘On the other side of the Fence: Modern Afghanistan’. Its panelists were Ben Hopkins (George Washington University) Razia Sultana (Quaid-e-Azam University) and Ryan Brasher (Forman Christian College) who shed light on Afghan history and mind set.

The discussion started with a presentation on Frontier Crimes Regulation and its origins in the Murderous Outragous Act 1877. Ben traced the expansion of FCR to other British colonies like Iraq, Nigeria, Kenya, Argentina and USA.

This was followed by Razia Sultana who traced the history of Afghanistan and how various tribes came together under Ahmed Shah Durrani, and how the Afghan conquered and ruled up to Delhi for the next century.

This was a very informative and fascinating take for many in the audience.

The third speaker Ryan Brasher briefly talked about the political dimensions of Afghanistan’s districts from beginning to the present day and the role these divisions played in the political dynamics of Afghanistan today.

The questions ranged from the reason of the Russian invasion in 1979 for the withdrawal in 1989. The US invasion, the Taliban phenomenon and how the post-Soviet governments governed Afghanistan including US influence, regional politics and interference.

The audience participated in the discussion whole heartedly and the presenters were straight and minced no words in their responses.

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