AJAHANGIR High School 1952 – 2018 | LAHORE
By the time Asma Jahangir was 18 years old, her father, a retired bureaucrat who turned into a politician, had been jailed several times for public protests. And while he learns to stand up for what is right from his parents, being fearless comes naturally to him. As a young student at a convent school in Lahore, he rallied to change how the head girl was chosen. Asma demands ‘at least a general election’, instead of a girl being chosen by the nuns, as is tradition. The school administration finally agreed, while maintaining its veto power.
However, it was 1971, which marked the formal entry into lifelong public struggle and activism. His father was jailed again, this time by the then President, General Yahya Khan. Asma petitioned for her release in the Lahore High Court, which was dismissed. He then said, ‘The court is not new to me. Even before his detention, my father remained in prison. . . we were not allowed to see it there. We always see it in court. So for me, the court is the place where you dress to meet your father. ‘Asma, who is young, appealed to the Supreme Court. When Yahya Khan’s government ended in 1972, the court declared the imprisonment illegal and Asma won her first case. The young girl found her calling and she went to law school!
However, he was forced to break up when he fell in love and married; colleges have strict policies that prohibit married women from attending. Asthma is persistent, unstoppable in its aim to become a lawyer, and successfully completes her title. She then established the country’s first female law firm, specializing in divorce and detention, with her sister and two friends.
Asma is known for her extraordinary courage and strong strength and capacity to fight the forces that will crush the oppressed. Even when placed under house arrest for violating laws that discriminate against women and religious minorities under the pretext of Islamization, he persisted. He risked his life and limbs when he stepped out on the streets and talked on public television and then, about his eager Twitter account. He never stopped calling those in power who perpetuate hatred in the name of religion, and spread violence and intolerance.
Asma is a founding member of the Women’s Action Forum (read more about this on page 89), a feminist movement that began in the 1980s, and formed the Pakistan Human Rights Commission. She became the first female president of the Supreme Court Association in 1983. Asma not only combats religious injustice, she also fights for the rights of women, minorities, for freedom to choose who you marry, and opposes bound workers and controversial defamation and defamation Controversial religious law, arranging to irritate many – from the military to the mullahs. When she died in 2018, Pakistan mourned the loss of a great woman who did more for a democratic and inclusive future than anyone else in recent history.
QANDEEL BALOCH 1990 – 2016 | DERA GHAZI KHAN
Nobody hopes that Qandeel Baloch will be a feminist icon for young women in this country. Known as ‘Kim Kardashian’ of Pakistan, he is famous for his vibrant social media content. Born as Fauzia Azeem in the conservative and patriarchal part of rural Punjab, she grew up where women have no voice and are expected to obey men in their lives. Fauzia got married when she was only 17 years old, with a man she didn’t like. She left the marriage, which was cruel – something many accuse her of making up, and took shelter in the women’s sanctuary in Multan with her son. When the child fell ill, Fauzia was forced to surrender. But he continued to reclaim his life, completing his education and struggling to make ends meet through low-paying jobs until he finally entered the entertainment industry as Qandeel Baloch.
He started small – a cheap fashion show, a small photo shoot and even a failed audition for Pakistani Idol – but soon made a successful career out of dramatic and pleasant television appearances. He reconnected with his family, moved his parents to his home and paid for his sister’s wedding and dowry. But he separated the two lives. No one outside his family knew that Qandeel and Fauzia were the same person.
When he grew his personality, Qandeel became bolder. He began using social media to push envelopes about how women are expected to behave in public, pout and pose provocatively and ask questions that bother followers like “How do I look?” Pakistan is in the same section of interest and surprise. Some call him shamelessly, others admire his ability to do what he likes. Gradually and perhaps without design, coy Qandeel’s online familiarity took the agenda more seriously. He began to improve his celebrity status to empower women, his voice echoing in progressive Pakistani society. ‘As a woman [sic], we must defend ourselves. . . As a woman [sic], we must defend justice. I am a modern feminist. . . I am only a woman [sic] with a free mind, a free mindset and I LOVE MY WAY. “
While Qandeel remained unashamedly vocal about patriarchy, the release of his music video mocked the limits given to Pakistani women scaring him. He had seen money and mobility emerge as Qandeel but continued to feel the lack of freedom and the effects of his patriarchal family as Fauzia. This controversial video became the last when the press revealed the identity of ‘real Baloch’. On July 15, 2016, eighteen days after this disclosure, Qandeel was killed by his brother because of what he felt was ’embarrassing’ to the family.
Qandeel’s life has been reviewed on television and more recently, in a book titled Sensational Life and the Death of Qandeel Baloch. Because sensational him! This passionate woman, who came from nowhere and without anything, has alone managed to attract the attention of the whole nation to make a name for herself. ‘I don’t know HOW many girls feel support through my personality. I am a powerful girl. So many girls tell me that I’m a girl, and yes, I am. “
Quote from Fearless written by Amneh Shaikh-Farooqui and illustrations by Aziza Ahmad have been published with permission from the Indian Penguin Random House.
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