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On Newsweek Pakistan’s 100 women: Shaking Pakistan with lipstick? – by Nabiha Meher

Luscious Cosmetics' contribution to Pakistani womanhood is unparalleled.

Editor’s note: We are cross-posting an interesting piece from the Express Tribune which offers a thought provoking commentary on a list of 100 Pakistani women recently published by the Newsweek Pakistan. While we have a number of reservations about the said list, not least the lack of transparency in its criteria and its visible urban slant, we think Nabiha’s piece offers a good analysis of how several names in the Newsweek Pakistan’s list may be there only because of who they are instead of what they did. According to ‘Tru Rethsbitter’, a candid commentator at the Express Tribune: “We all know who compiled the Newsweek 100 women list. cough…shehrbano taseer…cough. She needs to learn there’s a world beyond her elite friends who seldom shake but more like rake Pakistan. Hina Jilani should’ve been in the top most of the list. Sethi’s contribution to pakistan is 1% compared to other women, she’s only helped us paint our faces. Jilani and Jahangir on the other hand give us a voice.”


Newsweek Pakistan has outdone itself with its list of the 100 Women who shake Pakistan. I must concede, never has such an extraordinary list been created.

Some of the women listed here have “shaken” Pakistan on such a grand scale that it’s a wonder they haven’t had a street named after them yet.

The most commendable of the lot, also well known to all Pakistanis as our very own Estee Lauder is Mehrbano Sethi, who introduced Luscious Cosmetics in a country where makeup was largely unavailable. Let’s give her a round of applause, since her contribution to Pakistani womanhood is unparalleled.

Incredibly, Sethi has shaken Pakistan with lipstick unlike the un-made up Hina Jillani who was left out of the list because her life-long, country wide, feminist struggle pales in comparison to how empowered women feel after applying layers of foundation – nothing feels better than sticky lip gloss which gets stuck in your hair and nothing is more empowering than nail polish. Pretty hands stand above and beyond women’s shelters and justice.

Only a “jealous” non-elite fool would deny that.

Women from all over the country travel to major cities where it is available in droves, cleaning up shops as they go along. News of Luscious has spread so far and wide that products are being memorised in order to advertise to the illiterate.

Women in Thar dance to the tunes; activists have volunteered hours of their lives to translate them into all our national languages. The ad jingles are so powerful that Abida Parveen herself wouldn’t be able to do them justice.

Near Eid, our shopkeepers can hardly keep up with the large demand. Medora, Swiss Miss and all the other local beauty brands are seriously considering shutting down.

“Even though we’re poor, people are more than willing to spend money on a product that puts Estee Lauder to shame,” said an employee with tears in her eyes.

“It’s true,” said a woman in a store in Peshawar who had come all the way from Waziristan looking for things she could use to empower the oppressed women of her area. “We are willing to spend more. Medora nail polish chips in two days whereas Luscious lasts me 2.5 days.”

In front of my very eyes, she bought everything in the store. “This is the best present I could give to the women living under the Taliban. I don’t care about these rights groups or shelters. Women aren’t interested in this funny concept of freedom or equality! They want to look pretty. Don’t you know that’s the only way to feel good?”

I hung my head in shame and instantly decided to get a manicure. It didn’t make me feel better, so I wondered if I should get my sex changed.

In all seriousness, although what Sethi and the other women who shouldn’t be on this list have achieved is commendable and should be lauded, they are not a patch on the worthier ones who were left out.

I admire them for their resolve, but they are not known to most Pakistanis. The only ones who do know them well are those who are catering to their own elite crowd through a publication. It’s something we’ve all witnessed before: sycophantic elite self-love, giving each other way more importance than necessary and making an erroneous assumption that they can speak for Pakistan without knowing the ground realities.

How many people even know who Selina Rashid is, for example? I do, but only because she happens to be related to me and knows the same tiny circle.

As much as I admire her for creating a company that is definitely praiseworthy, I do not think she has “shaken” Pakistan. Her market is a tiny elite circle or those who can afford her services. While I sincerely hope more women follow in her footsteps instead of sitting home, I object to the fact that too many worthier women who actually represent Pakistan were left out.

I often wonder what planet our elite live on in general, but that’s another story.

Source: Express Tribune

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  • Why is Sherry Rehman, a traitor of the PPP on the list, whereas Farzana Raja’s services to entire Pakistan through BISP were ignored. Why have not they included Fauzia Wahab in the list, who has loyally and boldly served as Secretary Information of the largest political party in an Islamist, male chauvinist society?

  • Some comments from ET are quite relevant:

    TightDhoti Mar 25, 2011 – 2:55PM
    These sorts of lists are a waste of time to begin with. Regardless of who is on it. At the end of the day such lists devalue the efforts of each and every person who struggles to do right by their family, community and wider social group. Just because they are not considered worthy of media attention doesnt mean that there efforts are any less valuable.

    Tanzeel Mar 25, 2011 – 5:36PM
    and then the red mosque lady Umme Hassan, Zubaida Tariq and Shahista Wahidi, I wonder in what way they have shaken the nation. Interestingly they have considered Sania “Bhabhi” as Pakistani woman.

    Mona Ali Mar 25, 2011
    Some women who were not on the list:
    Hinna Rabbani Khar
    Faozia Wahab
    Farzana Raja
    Sharmilla Farooqi
    Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
    Samar Minallah
    Fehmida Riaz
    Zubeida Tariq
    Justice Nasira Iqbal

    iffy Mar 25, 2011 – 6:28PM
    what about juggan kazim? how has she shaken pakistan?

    Buzzy Mar 25, 2011 – 9:58PM
    Its funny you claim to move in the same circles as the aboved mentioned ladies (which is how you know who they are) yet find it pertinent to bash them for being elitists.. Bit contradictory no?

    Mehrbano Sethi Mar 25, 2011 – 10:39PM
    Hi. I just read this really funny (and poorly written) post you’ve written, and saw how you very graciously decided to single me out from the other 99 names on the list. You have every right to your opinion about the Newsweek list, but this attack on me specifically shows your narrow-mindedness about women in general.
    I would like to invite you to a public debate about “ground realities”, the education emergency we are facing in Pakistan, and the imminent collapse of our ailing economy. I have a background in International Relations and Conflict Resolution from Boston University, and I run a very successful FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) company in Pakistan which just happens to fall into the category of beauty/personal care. Lipstick on its own might not be able to shake Pakistan, but the 790 women I employ all over the country, along with a multitude of charitable organizations for women that I support by the very funds generated by my “lipstick” are a testament to how entrepreneurs in our country can contribute to our economy and our society in a multitude of ways. I did not ask or aspire to be on the Newsweek list, but I strongly object to your petty, condescending tone in this post. You have no right to call yourself a feminist if you target other women trying to survive in a hostile business economy. I have worked hard for each of my accomplishments and would love to sit down with you and tell you more about feminism and being supportive to other professional women in Pakistan.
    Lastly, you’re just a bit of a hater, aren’t you 😉

    Nabiha Meher Shaikh Mar 25, 2011 – 10:40PM
    Thank you ladies.
    Buzzy, they changed the words. I wrote “know” because although I know them, I do not move within that circle. I know who some of these people are- most know my family well & I’ve met most of them. I avoid that life. The full text is here:
    Elitism as a state of mind is what is being referred to here. One can be the richest person & yet have complete knowledge of ground realities. Knowing/relationships/income has nothing to do with how much common sense one has. I cannot, even though I’d like to, extract mutual DNA for many people I know. Just because I know them, doesn’t mean it’s a contradiction for me to say something against their grain.
    And thank you for using the word bashing. I truly thank you because here it is folks! I haven’t “bashed”. I’ve said that what these women are doing is amazing but since I haven’t harped on about blind love for them, that somehow, by some logic, equates to bashing. My job is done!

    Nabiha Meher Shaikh Mar 25, 2011 – 11:46PM
    Mehrbano, this is satire. This isn’t about you. This is about the list & all the content is related to the list. If you choose to take offense, there’s nothing I can do about it. As a writer, make-up just made the best content to use. In fact, I have used the words commendable & said that I admire you. If you choose to ignore the serious part about you which is ALL positive, then that’s your choice. It’s all there, clearly there. 😉
    I don’t believe any debate is possible since this article is being read for offense.
    And thank you for saying it’s poorly written. That’s a very big compliment for me.
    And if I’m an anti-feminist for this, then perhaps the definition of feminism has changed. Can someone give me the new one please? I have a degree in this, but I got in 2005. Maybe world feminism has been given an overhaul? Oh dear… What now?

    Nabiha Meher Shaikh Mar 25, 2011 – 11:49PM
    If being a hater means having the audacity to critique an elitist list & if it means having a sense of humour, then by all means call me a hater till the day I die.
    ReplyNabiha Meher Shaikh Mar 26, 2011 – 12:22AM
    Mehrbano, I’ve decided I actually would love to interview you. I’d like to know more about the business and how it’s helping/empowering women. However, I’d like to do it with a digital tape recorder on record so that there are no misunderstandings about misreporting etc. Should be interesting. I’m up for it if you are.

    Amber Mar 26, 2011 – 12:59AM
    I do not understand the hatred for elite by the author…as a journalist, are you not expected to be free of personal bias when writing an objective article…is it perhaps a chip on the shoulder? And if so, why attack Mehrbano Sethi, who obviously contributes not only to the economy, but also to making women happy. The latter cannot be underestimated – Nabiha, you yourself refer to ” Taliban rule” in some parts of the country, and the negative connotations thereof. Honestly, your article is retarded and misplaced, and belittles the spirit of entrepreneurship and women empowerment that you should be championing instead!! Long live Mehrbano Sethi and Luscious cosmetics, and may the country breed many more shakers such as her. As for you Nabiha – you obviously envy/hate anyone who is well to do or successful, or as you disparagingly keep muttering “elite”….please go fix your head and insecurities before you go around writing malicious articles and spewing unnecessary hatred….

    unzila chowdry Mar 26, 2011 – 1:03AM
    shehrbano is a reporter right? why would she write the list? shes not the editor as far as i know… there was some major problems in the list, but overall it was well rounded i think…

    Ghazala Raojee Mar 26, 2011 – 1:07AM
    also I really hate ppl who bash elitism. get over it. you guys only perpetuate class inequalities and tension… these ppl are born into well to do families, that is not their fault. but they dont sit on their backside like many other MIDDLE CLASS women do, they are taking risks, working hard and doing things
    its not about class… but our lower and middle classes are so frustrated at life these days because everything in pak is such low quality that the elite are a easy target to hate…
    stop sipping that hatorade guys!!!

    sarah 11 hours ago
    i am surprised to see Amna Taseer in this list!

    Hina A Mar 26, 2011 – 1:37AM
    From another blog which talks about Newsweek’s lisT:
    In essence this list lines up well with imperialist philosophy. Apart from a few good people here and there — Ayesha Jalal, Samina Khan, Asma Jehangir — (Tahera Hasan, a friend, and a lovely person as well,) and the list is replete with examples of globalization, capitalism queens, and imperialism mascots. And the parade of horrors — landed, industrialist politicians and financiers. Most, except a couple, either live abroad, or were educated abroad, or holidayed abroad.

    Nabiha Meher Shaikh Mar 26, 2011 – 1:54AM
    @Amber: “As for you Nabiha – you obviously envy/hate anyone who is well to do or successful, or as you disparagingly keep muttering “elite”….please go fix your head and insecurities before you go around writing malicious articles and spewing unnecessary hatred….”
    my reply is on my blog:
    And let me state here, again, like I have so many times in the past, that the elite self-love circle will probably be out for my blood for even daring to say this… I will be accused of being “jealous” & “insecure” (which is basically the following wail: “WHY DON’T YOU LIKE ME DAMN IT?! WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME BLINDLY LIKE YOU SHOULD?!”) because, after all, who on earth would voluntarily make the decision to be a low-life teacher? This is the only way they know how to deal with valid & logical criticism which makes me sad, especially as a teacher.

    Nabiha Meher Shaikh Mar 26, 2011 – 2:51AM
    This is my last comment for the night but I’m putting this up publicly because our elite is rather predictable. They have reacted just the way I said. They continue to prove me right.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if more demands, threats etc were put up here for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if people start to write vicious comments. I’m used to it. I expect it.
    I do think the Lahori elite need to take a long hard look at themselves. They all have an education. Use it to understand this before making knee jerk comments. If you CHOOSE to be offended, if you choose to believe that everything has to do with jealousy etc then we can’t even have a dialogue. It’s pointless.
    I am not going to apologise for what I wrote. I wrote it for a reason. If you choose not to see that reason, then there’s nothing I can do about that either.

    Concerned Elite Mar 26, 2011 – 3:16AM
    What a ridiculously Freudian discourse you have Nabiha. You use the word elite so many times it makes me think you are such a hater, like Sethi says! Seems to me like you feel left out of the “elite” thereore attack them. If you were from a middle class blue-collar family, I would even consider taking you seriously. The fact that you are attcking the “elite” so vehemently tells me a few things:
    1. You’re trying to be controversial and anti-system. Well, here’s a thought: we have much bigger issues in Pakistan than a Newsweek list. You are no Che Gavara. Please know that.
    2. Please don’t refer to yourself as just a “teacher” and try to hide behind that facade. You have maligned someone who is just like all your students at LUMS. A budding entrepreneur. I shudder to think of you as their mentor in any way.
    3. You have no idea what satire is. All the great Satirists are turning in their graves at just the thought of it.
    Overall, you should focus your energies on constructive writing and let the “elite” blindly love themselves. Why does it bother you so much?

    Asad Mar 26, 2011 – 6:40AM
    Ahhh the joy of seeing the english-speaking elites go at each others’ throats !!!!
    Ladies and metro-gents, pls. don’t ruffle your feathers too much in that little cage that Pakistan has become because that only gets more bird poop all over them.
    After 3 mos. spent back in the motherland and seeing how the “elite” have sucked the blood out of it to finance their BMW/Porsche/Land Rover farmhouse lifestyles while the rest have turned into intolerant fanatics I can only hope that getting the latest lawn designs and matching lipsticks keeps you happy and distracted while your IMF loans last.
    BTW Boston University was always the choice of the spoilt brats.

    Idiots Mar 26, 2011 – 5:52PM
    i don’t think nabihas going to reply. don’t blame her. she just put this up today. i can’t stop laughing!

  • the movers and shakers: women of pakistan

    Newsweek came up with a list of 100 women who matter most in Pakistan. They left out a few from a list they had of 350 women, broke a few hearts, and left a bunch feeling indignant.

    A “list” such as this a ridiculous idea, and here’s a list why:

    1. It fits the paradigm of how westerners write about Pakistan. If its not going to be the terror militant suicide angle, then it should be about defiance, spirit, resilience – their art, their bold and talented women, their unique industries. They party at french beach, they produce sex toys, they have transvestites who collect taxes, they have fashion shows where models display skin and bones. They have a 100 women who matter (most.) What is implicitly problematic with this module its always the other (softer) side of the dichotomy, the side that doesn’t wield swords in the name of Allah, and isn’t a failed state.

    2. The list is horribly weighted towards the rich, powerful, and privileged — politicians, business owners and even social entrepreneurs who buy into capitalist models of success for the poor. Case in point: Roshaneh tops the list — who combines benevolent capitalism with patriotism. Another case in point: Bushra Aitzaz — who to her credit, heads a business, and is head of the cricket board, and who according to “facebook note” source reminded the lawyers who questioned Aitzaz’s leadership of their movement of their “auqaat,” which roughly translates to “shut up, you low class.”

    3. When the list does stumble upon a representative from the working class, it is everybody’s favorite token, Mutktaran Mai. Not to diminish her contribution — however, her presence in such lists shows what a rural, non elite person has to suffer, and how she must miraculously rise above all odds, in order to make it to the imagination of the corporate media and the glitzy liberal ngo-charity-philanthropy circuit. Millions of women work in fields and in home based factories and contribute significantly to the economy, and to use a cliche, are the backbone of society. They suffer gross injustices, are not recognized as workers, paid less than their male counterparts. What about their leaders and organizers? Or is it enough that they are represented by the landed politicians who rely on their vote bank and the business women who de facto gain in profit margins from their exploited status, have made it to the list? (And Jugnu Mohsin who publishes stories about the ‘good times’ of the famously wealthy in her glossy magazine peddled by street vendors who work 8 hour days and still don’t make enough to pay their chidlren’s tution.)

    4. Then the glaring exclusions that simply do not make sense. I am not supporting their inclusion — but it does not add up why Aseefa Zardari (of anti polio achievements and a father) would make the list and Fatima Bhutto (also of father fame) would be dropped; why Sonya Jehan would make it as TV’s most attractive mascot, yet Sania Saeed, sensible, social issue drama actor would be eliminated; why Sheema Kirmani classical dancer and creator of Tehriq-i-Niswan and whose work has impact in Karachi was deemed to matter less than Shazia Sikander modern miniature artist whose work has “shown at every New York Gallery worth its salt.” Nighat Said Khan, one of the founders of the Womens’ Action Forum made it, and so did Aurat founder Nigar, but it must be terribly vexing for Anis Haroon, also active in WAF and Aurat, chairperson of National Commission on Status of Women, and robust on social issues to be considered any less important. Also Sara Suleri over Kamila Shamsie? Kamila is prolific with quality and Broken Verses raised important socio-political issues. Sara, while sweet and intelligent, and a contributor to theory, is still talking about Meatless Days. (At a recent event at T2f she referred to a paragraph in MD about how her sister asks a guy slaughtering her chicken if its “fresh.” Laughs. )

    5. Which brings me to a connected point that the list compilers probably did a coin toss or a dice roll in various categories. Madeeha Gauhar over Faryal Gauhar. Sara and Bapsi over Kamila. Bunny over Anis. Asma over Hina. Ayesha Taseer over Tammy Haq. Fehmida Mirza over Fehmida Riaz. Salima Hashmi, painter, curator, gallery owner over the other 100 curators, painters, and gallery owners, and innovators in art. Durriya Qazi was left out — the person who tried to popularize (co-opt) truck art. So was the woman from Poppy Seed Studio and her endeavor to produce dhaba art in an attempt to blatantly romanticize and cash in on the work of working class art pupils. Ghetto isn’t cool yet in Pakistan, and Sheedi donkey cart drivers are not quite rapper status. Nor is being non hetero-sexual acceptable.

    (In the sports: Naseem Hameed, Rubab, Sana Mir, Carla Khan or Kiran Baluch? (Its such a quaint and small club, put them all in.) Tina and Abida, singers of Faiz and Sufi kalam, but not Iqbal Bano and Munni, who sing Faiz and ghazal– one dead, the other badnaam. Tehmina Durrani cruised in unchallenged. Who doesn’t want to read about the carnal exploits of feudal politicians? Meera, Veena, or Mathira? Space only for two in the tramp ‘n vamp category.

    6. Four religious minorities made it to the list. (At least the ones I could count.) Bapsi Sidwa, Spenta Khandawala, Nargis Mawalvala, and Asiya Nasir. Three parsis — all of whom, I am pretty sure, live abroad, and one Christian. Hallelujah! But notice the write-up on the one local Asiya non Muslim. (politically incorrect term, yet in wide usage.) She represents the orthodox Jamaat -i-Ulema-Islam. Hence, despite her valiant speech in the national assembly about the rights of minorities, she stands with a party that believes in the systematic legal and political discrimination against minorities, and upholds the infamous blasphemy and Qisas and Diyat laws. Spenta’s claim to fame, dubiously, is that she was Hillary Rodham’s classmate at a top notch American college. Nargis, physicist, one of my sister’s good friends at one time — lovely person — but also MIT-Smith lineage.

    7. And cheering, and tacitly supporting the case for U.S. war and drone attacks on defenseless people in Waziristan (the so called existential threat of militants): Sajida Zulfiqar who resists the taliban to run her furniture business; Samar Minallah (who despite other accomplishments) is cited for exposing the Swat flogging video that precipitated and legitimized a military strike on Swat. Many women and children were displaced and killed as a result of that operation. And a certain Dr. Percha who helps un-brainwash taliban children as her service to humanity (with more brainwash and salami sandwiches for the duration of the course so they can endure hunger for the rest of the year?) And a certain Dr. Shirin who was a former advisor to George Bush, and Huma, an aide to Hillary Clinton. (Shudders.) Now read Falluja and Najaf in Qul style a few hundred times.

    8. In essence this list lines up well with imperialist philosophy. Apart from a few good people here and there — Ayesha Jalal, Samina Khan, Asma Jehangir — (Tahera Hasan, a friend, and a lovely person as well,) and the list is replete with examples of globalization, capitalism queens, and imperialism mascots. And the parade of horrors — landed, industrialist politicians and financiers. Most, except a couple, either live abroad, or were educated abroad, or holidayed abroad.

    In the spirit of International Womens’s day, make up your own list; lets do our own version of the Mumbai resistance. The only rule is that they should represent women with spelled out or practiced socialist, leftist, radical feminist, anti-capitalist, or pro labor ideologies . They question the status quo, and do not perpetuate it in any form or fashion, and not privileged in terms of past social status. Broaden it to South Asians. Throw in a few Maoist Nepali leaders for good measure.

    My list:

    1. Noor Naz Agha – leader in lawyers’ movement. Took the police baton in a rally, and has filed uncelebrated landmark lawsuits on the rights of bonded labor.

    2. Najma Khanum, labor party activist, who was returning from a meeting in Baluchistan with home based workers when she was killed in a tragic road accident. The roads were in a state of negligent disrepair and there was no non military hospitals on the way that would serve the people of Baluchistan. In any civilized country, there’d be a protest and a million dollar lawsuit.

    3. Arundhati Roy, just because.

  • From the above link

    sadhia said…
    My list would include Mai Jori – activist from Baluchistan who actually did a long march in Baluchistan. Alas, no media coverage on her struggle or the many other women in Baluchistan who are active and demand basic human rights both from the state and the corrupt sardars

  • In case someone needed to see this much ridiculed list:

    100 Women Who Shake Pakistan

    From the March 21‚ 2011‚ issue

    They make up almost half of Pakistan’s population of 180 million, but are rarely given the space and coverage they deserve. From Fatima Jinnah to Rana Liaquat Ali Khan to Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan has produced some very remarkable women. Today, they are bankers, businesswomen, activists, artists, sport stars. From a pool of almost 350 women, here’s our list of the 100 women who matter most.


    Roshaneh Zafar
    Inspired by Nobel laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus’s work at Grameen Bank, Roshaneh Zafar, 42, ditched her World Bank career to set up Kashf Foundation, Pakistan’s first microfinance institution, in 1996. She started with a $10,000 loan from the Grameen Trust, Rs. 100,000 of her own, and 15 clients. Today, Kashf has more than 306,000 clients, and has disbursed more than $202 million in small loans to poor women. Kashf made Forbes’s list of the world’s top microfinance institutions in 2007, and U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledged her work at the inaugural Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship last year. “The women I meet tell me, ‘don’t tell us about water sanitation projects, tell us how to earn a living,” Zafar says. In setting up Kashf, she moved away from conventional development projects to help women finance their own empowerment.

    Bilquis Edhi
    One of Pakistan’s most respected social workers, runs the Edhi Trust with her husband

    Aafia Siddiqui
    Neuroscientist convicted by a U.S. court for attempted murder is the cause célèbre for Pakistan’s Islamists

    Aamna Taseer
    In tragedy, she showed Pakistan what grace and dignity look like. Punjab’s former first lady now runs her late husband’s business empire

    Sherry Rehman
    Journalist turned politician turned conscience of the nation, she is the most important voice in a country gripped in darkness

    Sultana Siddiqui
    The director and producer also owns HUM TV, a popular women’s cable channel

    Bushra Aitzaz
    Activist, businesswoman, and chief of the women’s cricket board

    Kiran Baluch
    Set highest test score record in women’s cricket

    Rubina Feroze Bhatti
    Fights for the rights of women victimized by violence

    Abida Parveen
    Globally renowned Sufi vocalist with over 20 albums

    She shows us the Jamia Hafsa still lives
    Um-e-Hassan, the wife of Lal Masjid’s chief cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz, came to national prominence four years ago as head of Jamia Hafsa, the mosque’s seminary for women which was leading the charge to have Shariah laws imposed in Pakistan. The protests and actions of the burqa-clad students in Islamabad got the attention of the world—and the Army. At least 84 lives were lost when commandos finally stormed the Lal Masjid compound in July 2007. A native of Rawalpindi, Hassan cites the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) and his wives Khadija and Ayesha as inspirations. She began religious instruction for women shortly after her marriage to Aziz in 1985. “Women are very important because they have the most influence on their children,” she told Newsweek Pakistan. “For a good society, you need to work hard on the education of women.” Hassan says she imparts a positive message to women in her lessons, “Women shouldn’t think they have no role in society. They are wives, sisters, mothers, daughters.” Hassan says she has never urged any of her followers toward violence, and that the reform of society is the responsibility of religious scholars operating with the authority of the state. One model, she says, is the Saudi religious police, the Mutaween. “When we see injustice and wrong in society,” Hassan says, “it is our duty to at least point it out and tell people that this is wrong. This was our position back then, and this is our position now.”

    Carla Khan
    Pro-squash player continues the Khan legacy

    Ruth Pfau
    Fights to eradicate leprosy in Pakistan

    Nabila Maqsood
    Stylish and smart, the fashionista has made a career out of making other people look hot

    Bapsi Sidhwa
    Doyenne of South Asian English lit is still going strong

    Jehan Ara
    Leading software development in Pakistan

    Naseem Hameed
    South Asia’s fastest woman and endorsements’ queen

    Bunto Kazmi
    Fashion designer shows modern sensibility with traditional styles

    Shazia Marri
    Energy czarina
    Married at 14 and divorced by 16, Sindh’s first ever minister for energy, oil, and gas doesn’t show it, but she’s had to overcome plenty of challenges. The poised and articulate Marri, 38, was roped into politics by Benazir Bhutto, and has electrified us.

    Aasia Noreen
    Her plight has inspired thousands to question controversial laws

    Ameena Saiyid
    The power behind Oxford University Press in Pakistan

    Dr. Rufina Soomro
    Helps cancer patients feel normal with low-cost breast prosthetics

    Dr. Feriha Peracha
    Runs Sabaoon to deprogram children brainwashed by the Taliban

    Jugnu Mohsin
    Publisher of Pakistan’s first independent weekly is also the country’s most powerful humorist

    Sajida Zulfiqar
    Established successful furniture business despite Taliban threat

    Ayesha Jalal
    Tufts professor is top South Asian history scholar

    Nigar Ahmad
    As a founder of Aurat Foundation, she has been key in getting women’s voices heard

    Asma Jahangir
    Nothing scares dictators and demagogues more than this brave, rabble rousing, SCBAP president and human rights activist

    Sara Suleri
    Meatless Days author and Yale prof

    Sana Mir
    She raised the bar for cricket
    The 25-year-old led the Pakistan women’s cricket team that won gold at the Guangzhou Asian Games, and the hearts of a nation craving sporting success. “We will have this medal for the next 4 years, I want to enjoy that,” she told Newsweek Pakistan. She is the top rated Pakistani player, and among the top 20 best bowlers in the world.

    Nergis Mavalvala
    Astrophysicist imparts her knowledge to new crop at MIT

    Shamshad Akhtar
    The first woman to head the State Bank, Akhtar now runs the World Bank’s MENA operations

    Rukhsana Bangash
    Don’t let her low-key demeanor mislead you, President Zardari’s political secretary is the one who keeps things moving along

    Shahnaz Wazir Ali
    The educator and philanthropist is also the architect of the Benazir Income Support Programme

    Aseefa Bhutto Zardari
    The youngest of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari’s children has been the face of the anti-polio campaign since she was born

    Yasmin Rehman
    Key voice on the powerful Public Accounts Committee

    Shafqat Sultana
    President, First Women Bank

    Fehmida Mirza
    The first woman speaker of Parliament in the Muslim world

    Fauzia Gilani
    The industrious first lady is a political operator and a leading businesswoman

    Asiya Nasir
    Pakistan woke up to Asiya Nasir after her hard hitting speech in the National Assembly following the assassination on March 2 of minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti. Representing the orthodox Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), the 39-year-old Christian M.P. left teaching to enter politics in 2002. We’re glad she did.

    Kulsoom Nawaz
    The former first lady wowed us all by her courage after her husband’s government was overthrown in a coup

    Nasreen Kasuri
    Her self-started education empire now sprawls continents

    Shaista Wahidi
    Replaces Nadia Khan as face of GEO TV and Pakistan’s Oprah

    Salima Hashmi
    Painter, curator, gallery owner, she is the face of modern Pakistani art

    Samar Minallah
    Her video of a young woman being flogged in Swat turned public opinion firmly against the Taliban

    Shazia Sikandar
    The New York-based modern miniature artist has shown at every major gallery worth in its salt

    Shirin Tahir-Kheli
    The former adviser to George W. Bush got Pakistan and India talking again

    Sonya Jehan
    Telecom’s most attractive mascot

    Souriya Anwar
    Founder of and indefatigable spirit behind Pakistan’s SOS Villages

    Syeda Hina Babar Ali
    When she’s not busy running Packages, one of Pakistan’s largest business groups, she’s writing poetry

    Nafis Sadik
    Internationally renowned, her efforts as the U.N. special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia have helped stem the disease in the region

    Ghulam Sugra
    The Sindhi activist has gained new popularity after recieving the International Women of Courage Award from Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama

    Madeeha Gauhar
    The Lahore-based writer opened an outlet for human rights activisim when she launched Ajoka Theatre under Gen. Zia

    Maj. Gen. Shahida Malik
    Pakistan’s first woman to make a two-star general marked a new era in women’s rights

    Maria Toor Pakay
    The squash wunderkind is making Pakistan proud

    Nighat Said Khan
    One of the founding members of Women’s Action Forum, she doubles as a talented filmmaker

    Mukhtar Mai
    She turned a horrible tragedy into a triumph of the human spirit. Gang raped in 2002 at the orders of a tribal jirga, Mai, 39, has fought a long and tough battle to get those who assaulted her convicted. Along the way, she founded a school and authored the best-selling In the Name of Honour. Today, Mai, who is herself illiterate, is working to ensure every girl in her village gets an education.

    Rubab Raza
    Only 13 when she qualified for the Summer Olympics in 2004, Rubab has a bright career ahead of her

    Hina Tahir
    Pakistan’s first female fighter pilot

    Sabiha Sumar
    The award-winning Independent filmmaker has dedicated herself to social change through film

    Saima Mohsin
    Freelance journalist who often reports on Pakistan for PBS and ITV

    Salma Maqbool
    Co-founder of Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness has made it her mission to ensure no one else suffers her affliction

    Samina Qureshi
    The award-winning author has toured the world, bringing the beauty of Pakistan with her

    Zubaida Tariq
    Food and homemaking guru

    Lollywood actress reinvents herself as savvy talk-show host

    Kishwar Naheed
    Veteran columnist still going strong after four decades

    Juggan Kazim
    Ubiquitous cherub-faced model and actress

    Mehrbano Sethi
    With her Luscious Cosmetics, the Estée Lauder of Pakistan

    Marvi Memon
    Parliamentarian and twitter queen

    Sanam Marvi
    Folk and sufi singer sets her own tone

    Huma Abedin
    Aide to Hillary Clinton is Pakistani on her mother’s side

    Sania Mirza
    Tennis pro has been welcomed by Pakistanis as their own

    Seema Aziz
    CARE Foundation founder proves that philanthropy can make a difference

    Shandana Khan
    The Rural Support Program Network CEO focuses on the grassroots

    Shazia Ahmed
    Leader of the first four female fighter pilots trained by Pakistan’s Air Force

    Legendary folk singer

    Samina Ghurki
    The only PPP leader with a safe National Assembly seat from Lahore

    Nafisa Shah
    She was among 1,000 women nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. Encouraged to enter politics by the late Benazir Bhutto she excelled as the mayor of Sindh’s Khairpur district and is currently a Pakistan Peoples Party member of the National Assembly.

    Faryal Talpur
    The first sister is running the day-to-day of the country’s largest party

    Tehmina Daultana
    PMLN pol has nerves of steel, and a sense of humor

    Tina Sani
    No one can put Faiz’s verse to song quite like her

    Lollywood siren lives in the headlines and in our hearts

    Samia Raheel Qazi
    Heads the women’s wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest religio-political party

    Zareen Khalid
    Pakistan’s original event planner

    Spenta Kandawalla
    The U.S. Secretary of State’s former classmate is a business mogul in her own right

    Farhat Hashmi
    She established Al-Huda International in 1994. Since then, Hashmi has been the favored proselytizer of the ladies-who-lunch crowd in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi. She has a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Glasgow—and in converting women to Al-Huda’s brand of Islamic conservatism. “I just translate the word of God,” she told filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy in an interview. So if people have a problem with her, she said, “they have a problem with God.”

    Tahera Hasan
    Founding member of KaraFilm Festival maintains a healthy law practice for entertainment industry

    Farzana Bari
    Human rights campaigner

    Bano Qudsia
    Novelist and playwright was awarded the Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2010

    Maryam Bibi
    Since founding Khwendo Kor, which means “sister’s home”, a nongovernmental organization, in 1993, she’s been struggling for funding. “Big donors like big projects,” she told Newsweek Pakistan. They don’t seem to find her organization’s sharply focused work with internally-displaced women and children headline worthy. But, luckily, Bibi is trucking along just fine. “It is the poorest of the poor women who inspire me to keep working.”

    Nahid Siddiqui
    Kathak dancer introduced her skill to universities across the world

    Nazish Ataullah
    Printmaker and social activist

    Tehmina Durrani
    Author and activist

    Samina Ahmed
    South Asia project director at International Crisis Group

    Samina Khan
    Sungi head is working on several development projects

    Ronak Lakhani
    Tech wiz also runs the Special Olympics

    Nusrat Jamil
    Author, rights activist and dynamo

    Marriana Karim
    Raises funds for several charities and runs a kidney center

    Madiha Sattar

    Selina Rashid
    Founder of Lotus PR

    Veena Malik
    Spark and Provocateur
    She says she is 27. Veena Malik, the actor, comedienne, and cultural lightning rod, says and does a lot of things that prompt a double take and require suspension of disbelief. Pakistanis remember her from such hits as “cricketer Muhammad Asif stole my heart—and my money!”; “Meera should watch her back”; and, of course, last year’s Bigg Boss on Indian television that had Pakistan—and India—aghast, more because of her desperate determination to hog the spotlight rather than anything real saucy or salacious. For the finale, after she was voted out of the Bigg Boss house, Malik appeared on Frontline with Kamran Shahid in Pakistan taking on a mullah in a highly scripted, and spirited, performance that had Pakistan’s pathetic Internet liberals hailing her as their new hero. The debate surrounding Malik’s TV antics have served to further confirm the poverty of the liberal elite and the hypocrisy of the religious right. It has also shown Malik to be a savvy entertainer in this age of guns and Gaga. “I’m not one of those you can malign and get away with it,” Malik told Newsweek Pakistan. “If people think they can because I’m a woman, they’re mistaken.” Malik was last seen on India’s World Cup-related show, Bigg Toss. Veena, vidi, vici, indeed.

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  • Can someone please enlighten me:

    How many women in the Newsweek list belong to Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad?

    How many women in the list belong to the socio-economic elite of Pakistan? What is the percentage of the elite in entire Pakistan?

    The Newsweek article mentions a pool of 350 women? Pray tell where did that pool pop up from? What was the criteria used to further short-list that pool to 100?

    Finally, why is this woman not in the Newsweek list? Do they know her name at all?

  • Isnt it a surprise that just a few weeks ago, the doyen of Pakistan’s democracy and honesty, Ms. Sherry Rehman was on the cover of Newsweek Pakistan titled as “The Incredible Sherry”. It is the same facade which we lovingly call the FCS which is part and parcel of the list.

  • It is more a list of 100 women who shake lahore’s Sunday and Good Times magazine 🙂

  • Sherbano Taseer is being carefully groomed by her khaala Ayesha Tammy Haq. Tammy…. naam hee kaafi he

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