In a gathering at Aligarh University, Quaid-e- Azam stated, “No nation can rise to the heart of its glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs and practices. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our womenfolk have to live. You should take your women along with you as comrades in every sphere of life.”
Inspired by the historic stand taken by the Father of the nation, Fariha Razak devoted her life to fighting for the right of oppressed women and others less privileged in Pakistan. She will always be remembered and acknowledged as a strong defender of human rights and an amazing individual to anyone who had an opportunity to know her.
In her article titled ‘Women Are Falling Behind’ in a leading daily, she said, “The men’s attitude towards women has to change. Unless they learn to respect women and treat them as equals, this nation will not progress. Nuclearisation is not as important as the liberation of our nation from obsolete, archaic tribal and feudal mindsets and rituals. We have no concept of a thing called civilization’. This article earned her and Pakistan, for the first time, the prized European Commissions “Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism” in 2000, making her the first Pakistani writer to be recognized by The International Federation of Journalists. At the time of her award, she was only 44 and had made a distinguished place for herself in the field.
Fariha Razak was born in 1956 and belonged to a family that had dedicated their lives to developing Pakistan. She was the daughter of Abdul Razaq, an eminent civil engineer. Her father worked as the Saudi Royal Air Force’s Chief Engineering Advisor and holding several other senior positions, retired from Pakistan Army’s Engineer as Chief Directorate. He later went on to serve in politics and closely supported Benazir Bhutto at the office of the Prime Minister. Fariha’s mother Nishat Afza was a poet and a renowned social worker who graduated from the Punjab University and later obtained a diploma in Modern Techniques of Leadership and Management from the United States. She also served as President Free Legal Aid Centre. Fariha and her mother also had another peculiar difference that very fewer people shared that both mother and daughter were members of Parliament at the same time.
Fariha Razak was born in 1956 and belonged to a family that had dedicated their lives to developing Pakistan. She was the daughter of Abdul Razaq, an eminent civil engineer. Her father worked as the Saudi Royal Air Force’s Chief Engineering Advisor and holding several other senior positions, retired from Pakistan Army’s Engineer as Chief Directorate
Fariha finished high school from the Convent of Jesus and Mary, Murree, and was a high performer who excelled in both studies and sports. She was the captain of the Volley Ball team and was also awarded the school’s lifetime achievement award for being an outstanding student and for her achievements. She studied Technology in Communications & Media at Stanford University, USA, and at Kinnaird College Lahore, Pakistan, English Literature and French. She has received a Social Justice & Democracy fellowship at London University College, UK, and was an alumnus at Islamabad National Defence University. She decided to work as a writer and enter the journalism industry. Her illustrious career as an eloquent journalist and human rights activist has earned her numerous accolades. She wrote more than 1,000 articles for national and international publications over a period of 30 years. She was later nominated by her mentor and colleague Benazir Bhutto as the party’s candidate for reserved women’s seats and was subsequently elected to the assembly in Sindh’s 2002 general election in Pakistan. She has worked extensively to raise awareness of minority rights and the underprivileged.
Fariha succeeded in pushing many resolutions & private bills to resolve these causes. She has been involved with several NGOs including Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission to support various significant causes. As a member of the Assembly, she took up to support significant causes of social and human rights, in particular, Karo Kari, domestic violence, runaway marriages, child labour, women’s rights and forced labour. She organized seminars and regularly visited the country’s inner parts to raise awareness about social justice, conflict reduction, family planning, education, human rights, and building peace.
For her contribution to social and human rights issues, she was honoured on behalf of the Queen of England with the prestigious “Annual Muslim Award” by the House of Lords, London in 2003. She also received the “Madar-i-Millat Award” by the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2003 to acknowledge her noble dedication to improving the status of the underprivileged in society. In 2007, she was awarded “Service to the Nation Award”. Not only nationally, but her contributions have also been appreciated internationally as well. Her dedication towards the causes was also recognized by the Pakistan British Trust on Pakistan’s 60th year for the Power 100 list of ‘Pakistani people who have accomplished the very highest levels of achievement’.
February 1, 2018, her illustrious career came to an end. She was always a vocal and assertive figure when it comes to Human rights and serious political issues but her friends and family lovingly remembers her as a person who is full of life, who always looks out for others. A strong working woman, a proud mother and a dear friend of her kids. She is a promoter of a better society who spoke for the unheeded. A true fighting spirit, with exceptional capabilities, she always stood firm on her ground for the betterment of women and all those who are less privileged in Pakistan.
On 14th August 2019, Independence Day, President of Pakistan, in recognition of her work and services over the last 3 decades, has approved the conferment of Pakistan civil Award Tamgha-i-Imtiaz. Fariha Razak is a woman who will always be remembered for her countless efforts and remarkable achievements for the progress of women and the oppressed in Pakistan.
The writer is a social activist