Original Articles

In appreciation of Fauzia Wahab

Fauzia Wahab speaking at the reference for Salmaan Taseer in Karachi's PMA House

Related articles: LUBP Archive on Fauzia Wahab

On 14 February 2011, a courageous woman while responding to questioners at the Karachi Press Club said what many men won’t have ever said. She treaded on to a territory which was the “exclusive” domain of the men in Khakis and Babus. She stated that the Raymond Davis’ issue could not be dissociated from the ground-realities of the Pakistan-US relations including Pakistan’s economic dependence on the US and also Pakistan’s diplomatic responsibilities under Vienna Convention.

What she said was that the US was the largest market for Pakistani products, adding that the country earned more than $4 billion annually from trade with it. She said:

“More than a million Pakistanis are living in US, send remittances, which supports our economy. But unfortunately, we are talking against the (same) country and its people without any logic. We should respect and abide by national and international laws.”

And also what she did about Raymond Davis’ immunity was quote what was written in the Pakistan Law Digest (PLD). She said:

“PLD contains (several) judgments of the Supreme Court and high courts also provide diplomats immunity under articles 29 and 37 clause-A”.

Indeed, I am talking about Fauzia Wahab who until recently held the position of the Central Information Secretary of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party.

And of course, all hell broke loose because of her statement on Raymond Dvis and the intricacies of the Pakistan-US relations.

She was castigated as a sell off. She was termed an American tout. There were hate messages of the worst possible kinds.

She faced such pressures not only politically but also within her own family, suddenly some in-laws also came into limelight asking her to change her surname. However, she stuck to her guns saying that she spoke from her heart.

After discussions with the party leadership, she resigned from her position that allowed her to be in the top decision making body of the PPP. She resigned gracefully, saying she wouldn’t like her party to suffer in case she is called to the courts to explain her statement. The handover was simple and straight. She resigned and Qamar Zaman Kaira was appointed in her place.

Here is a video clip of her graceful departure from her post:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcpbv2bFHBw

What was different about her episode was that she didn’t give any adverser statement against the party leadership, which is a norm whenever someone is removed they start giving statements that are detrimental to their benefactors i.e. their party.

In recent history, Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s ghairat awoke the day he was not appointed foreign minister while Fauzia Wahab’s predecessor Sherry Rehman is termed as the doyen of honesty after she resigned as Information Minister and removed as PPP Information Secretary. In fact Sherry Rehman’s active role, participation and correspondence in a Civil Society group “Citizens for Democracy” which comprises several PPP-phobes is a rude reminder of how some people conveniently change their masks according to their own vested interests and self projection.

If one goes a little further in history, people like Syed Iqbal Haider, Aitzaz Ahsan, Naheed Khan, Iftikhar Gilani and many more went against the party line only after being removed or not being given what they thought was their “right”.

In contrast, during Fauzia Wahab’s two years as party’s information head, she kept on doing a thankless job. She was an important bridge for her party workers, always accessible. She managed the affairs of the party’s information cell efficiently.

We used to get regular emails, talking points etc from PPP’s information cell under her leadership which used to be important for the party worker. Not many realize, she was never holding any official state position. She was not an information minister. She remained an ordinary worker of the party who reached her position through hard work.

Through this brief post, we want to reiterate that we are proud of you Fauzia. You have set an example for all those party leaders who feel that a position given to them by the party is their birth right.

PPP Central Information Secretary Ms. Fauzia Wahab inauguration FM Radio at Kinnaird College.

About the author

Abdul Nishapuri

27 Comments

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  • I wonder why did not Omar Waraich, Declan Walsh, Mosharraf Zaidi etc accord half the coverage to Fauzia Wahab than the free of cost publicity which they usually provide to Sherry Rehman?

    Why didn’t they praise Fauzia Wahab for her bold and honest stance on Raymond Davis? Why did they continue to ignore how Fauzia successfully managed the PPP’s information cell despite an extremely hostile media and extremely ruthless mullahs equipped with fatwas and footsoldiers?

  • Usman Ghani Bhai

    Mujhay Fozia Ki Ramond Wali Baat Pasand Nahi Aai.

    Lekin Phir Bhi Farq Saaf Zahir Hay.

    Vilayati Sahafi Kyun Ghaas Dalen Gay Usay? Fozia Bibi Kay Paas Na Vilayati Bottle Hay Na Bhopali Bangla Hai. Kahan Sherry Kahan Faozia. Kahan Raja Bhoj Kahan Gangu Teli.

  • @Usman, This is because Fauzia bibi has integrity; something completely lacking in other attention-seeking hogs. She is a brave, selfless, honest and politically astute PPP activist. The party is enriched because of having people like her. She was always approachable and not an elitest snob or opportunist unlike some other PPP members who are using civil society and judiciary platform to bash PPP!

  • Mussalman has hit ball in the right spot. In fact when her personality could not be tainted through either moral or financial corruption, she faced the worst possible treatment. Firstly her son was targeted, followed by blasphemy charges related to hazrat umar, then she was termed a maloona for saying aasia was also Pakistan kee beti and finally the raymOnd Davis issue. What she said was termed true. Proud of you madam

  • There are few people whom I really love, and it’s fact that I really love Mother Fouzia Wahab, love you…During Raymond Davis saga, she followed Party line & in critical times has proved her loyalty to the party and leadership. Time has proved today that her point of view was based on international law, logic and truth as well her point of view on Asia Bibi was based on humanity.

    (Maa Tujhe Salam)

    And on the other hand Shah Mehmood Qureshi had not followed party policy & toed the establishment line, so lost credibility, prestige & honour.

  • Was it a coincidence that her younger son was kidnapped a week after she resigned and rehman malik said on floor of the house that she was a target? Was the kidnapping a message to her?
    Honestly, the woman pricked a lot of people, yet no one ever dared to allege a rupee’s corruption against her

  • May I ask the women activists, why they dont raise voice against the treatment to fauzia wahab? how a woman activist, let alone office bearer is hardly accepted in a male, islamist society! Off course you need to have an NGO or a gumrahi.com website to be loved and adored by the civil society!!!

  • Ansar Abbasi nay fauzia sahiba kay khilaf kaafi nafrat phelai….aik dafa betay kay sms par aur doosri baar hazrat umar wali baat par. sharam nahee aati

  • @Lady Activist

    it seems you are asking this question to our Gharat Mund ladies, i.e Sherian Mazari, Marvi Memon, Kashmala Tariq and Dr Tahira Abdulah..

  • A dignified worker of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party. Despite being a senior leader and office bearer of the most popular political party of Pakistan, she had what very few people are blessed with : A down to earth personality.

  • @Obaidur Rehman
    Madam Fouzia Wahab ka naam humesha Pakistan ki Tarekh mein sunehri haroof se likha jaye ga aur Ansar Abbasi aur aus ke sathi fankarion ka naam humesha munafiq ki haseet se yaad rekha jaye ga.

  • Pakistan People’s Party is loved and adored for its roots in people and its ability to possess people like Fauzia Wahab, Jehangir Badar, Farhatullah Babar and many more.
    Once I met a women worker Zubaida Aapa from Faqir Colony, Orangi Town at a PPP meeting and she was full of praise for Madam Fauzia Wahab for allocating her MNA funds to be consumed in the streets of very poor Baloch locality in Faqir Colony.
    In fact, people like Rehman Malik will never know what PPP meant to the Balochs of Liyari, Faqir Colony and Mawach Goth.
    Thank you Madam for your attention to us….
    When Ansar Tehriri Abbasi had a campaign against her for her remarks regarding constitution and Early Islamic era, it was LUBP which came in her support and published a thought provoking article “Is Koran a constitution? ” Thank you LUBP

  • Madam Fauzia Wahab is the real companion of Shaheed Rani, as she never left PPP in any circumstances and defended it at every level.
    Actually she knows it very well that how much love BB had for the Balochs living in Lyari and Faqir Colony, and how these people have sacrificed their lives defending their party which is in their blood.

  • i have known ms. Wahab for last 17 years ever since she became an office bearer of the party. She has risen consistently through party ranks through hard work. A worker like me is still there for her and she never fails us by remaining accessible.

  • It was funny to read the Newsweek pakistan list of 100 women who shake pakistan: http://www.newsweekpakistan.com/features/270

    Guess what, Fauzia Wahab, Firdous Ashiq Awan and Farzana Raja do not appear in the list. From the PPP is off course dearest doyen of democracy, Sherry Rehman and a few others.

    The top of the list is Roshaneh Zafar. Does anyone know who she is? She is SM Zafar’s daughter 🙂

  • This poem is dedicated to Mother Fouzia Wahab:

    I side with those
    Who mourn where the shadows swing
    from the gallows trees
    I side with those
    who become a flowering of words
    when the swords are ranged against them
    I side with those
    who have been driven from there homes,
    leaving behind them
    their houses suffused with daylight,
    fish nests in their skiffs
    and their landholdings,
    wet with the falling rain
    I side with those
    who are a loving cup of dreams
    held by the night
    as it totters down the stairs;
    who become, as it were,
    the portents, during smoldering vigils,
    of dawns in the offing
    I side with them

    (Nazir Qaiser)

  • Great Baji Fouzia wahab salute to your great services for Ppp Media wing Truly Sweet personality !

  • latimes.com
    Pakistan handles Islamic extremism with kid gloves
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-fear-20110330,0,3419543,full.story
    Violence and threats against those who dared to speak out against militants underscore extremism’s deep reach into Pakistani society. But the government has proved powerless to stem the tide of radicalization.
    By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
    2:34 PM PDT, March 29, 2011
    Reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan
    Advertisement

    Loud and combative, Fauzia Wahab is unafraid to denounce mullahs or defend deeply unpopular America. In recent weeks, however, the liberal lawmaker has sat hunkered down in her home in Karachi, rarely stepping out her front door.

    Islamic militants elsewhere in Pakistan have assassinated a Cabinet minister and a prominent governor since the first of the year. But the Taliban and other violent extremist organizations aren’t the only cause for concern.

    The killings of Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti this month and Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer on Jan. 4 have exposed just how deep extremism has seeped into Pakistani society.

    When Taseer’s assassin, a 26-year-old police commando, made his first court appearance, lawyers in their traditional black suits and black ties greeted him with kisses and a cascade of rose petals.

    A weak and corrupt government, led by the secular Pakistan People’s Party, or PPP, has proved powerless. Even as it has launched military offensives against the Taliban in several areas, it has sought to appease militants in everyday society. And it has barely tried to stem the tide of radicalization in universities, the news media, security forces, political parties and even the legal community.

    The military and intelligence communities also have the power to intervene. But both have ties to Islamic militants that go back decades.

    “I have been advised by everyone to go home, to go into hibernation,” Wahab, a ruling party member, said during a telephone interview from her home. “What else can I do? Am I supposed to come out on the road and say, ‘Come on and kill me?’ They are roaming around, and our lives are under threat.”

    The country’s leaders have conspicuously steered clear of the issue that cost Taseer and Bhatti their lives: a blasphemy law that makes it a crime to insult the prophet Muhammad, the Koran or Islam. Human rights advocates say the law is frequently used to settle scores or persecute minorities, particularly Christians. Those found guilty may face the death penalty.

    Both Taseer and Bhatti, a Christian, spoke out against the law. But after Taseer’s assassination, leaders of the ruling party dropped any talk of revising the law; instead they vowed to not tamper with it.

    Extremists were unconvinced and responded with a steady stream of death threats. Sherry Rehman, a leading PPP lawmaker who had proposed amendments to the law, received a spate of them. She has pulled back the amendments and, like Wahab, sits holed up in her Karachi home.

    Although Wahab hasn’t spoken out about the blasphemy issue, she received threats after saying CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who is accused of murdering two Pakistani men in January, has diplomatic immunity and should be released. Wahab has also accused Pakistan’s judiciary of being soft on militants.

    Ayaz Amir, a journalist and lawmaker with the main opposition PML-N party, said the killings of the two politicians “have reduced the space for rational talk; people are afraid right now.”

    “In private, politicians will talk about these things, but on the floor of parliament, on talk shows and in the press, they prefer to keep quiet,” Amir said. “This encourages an atmosphere of intolerance to spread.”

    No institution appears immune. At the prestigious University of the Punjab, a radical group has clamped down on anything it deems un-Islamic, be it music classes or male and female students being seen together. When a professor had several of the group’s students expelled for violent behavior last year, other members severely beat him with rods and sticks.

    Even the upper chamber of parliament, the Senate, has been affected. After Taseer was assassinated, a move to offer a traditional memorial prayer was rejected, which observers said reflected the raw emotions caused by differences over the blasphemy law.

    Meanwhile, extremist groups have been emboldened.

    At a rally last month called by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a group regarded in the West as a front for the banned militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba, more than 20,000 Pakistanis jammed a highway in the eastern city of Lahore to hear Islamist leaders urge the government to establish a ministry for jihad, or holy war. India and the West have accused Lashkar-e-Taiba of masterminding the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 160 people.

    “I can assure you that the funding for this ministry will be given by [Jamaat-ud-Dawa], and we will present a million trained sons of ours for this purpose,” the group’s political affairs chief, Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, told the crowd. “Give these million warriors of God AK-47s!”

    Analysts say radical groups can attract large numbers because the government, hopelessly mired in corruption and inefficiency, doesn’t provide the unemployed, discouraged masses with much of an alternative.

    A third of the population lives below the poverty line. Nearly 7 million children between the ages of 5 and 9 do not attend school, and two of three youths of secondary school age stay at home. Almost half of the population is illiterate.

    “There’s only one way to turn this around,” said Najam Sethi, the former editor of the Daily Times, a liberal-leaning newspaper published by Taseer. “Show that liberal democracy delivers: delivers governance, delivers transparency, delivers the nation into the global economy, delivers jobs, delivers livelihoods and fills up empty stomachs.”

    “You’ve got to give people all that to make them turn away from the emptiness of ideology and outrage and passion,” Sethi said. “But what has happened is that democracy has not delivered.”

    Sethi blamed former military ruler Gen. Zia ul-Haq for encouraging the growth of political Islam in the 1970s and ’80s. It was Zia who first imposed a blasphemy law to help win the backing of hard-line religious parties.

    The influence of extremists could also be reined in if the military and intelligence communities intervened. But bonds between the Islamists and the generals are resilient and time-tested, dating to the period when the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate teamed up to help fighters in Afghanistan.

    Although recent military offensives in places such as Swat Valley and South Waziristan have attained some success against the Pakistani Taliban, elements of the intelligence community continue to nurture ties with militant leaders.

    Some militants are regarded as “strategic assets,” said a senior intelligence official who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on such matters.

    “Putting these people in prison is a sort of control mechanism,” the official said. “Though they are still able to run their organizations effectively from prison, it’s a bit of a cooling-down period for them, a time to hibernate.”

    Wahab says there was a moment when leading politicians could have rallied behind Rehman’s legislation, which would have removed the death penalty and required prosecutors to prove that the alleged blasphemy was intentional.

    “But within no time everyone disowned her or kept quiet,” she said. For now, Wahab is in no position to lead the countercharge.

    “Most likely I’ll be working from my home,” she said, sighing. “I’ll have to be very careful about my movement.”

    alex.rodriguez@latimes.com