Fauzia Wahab on the role that taught her a lesson of the heart.
Politics has been my passion since the fifth grade, when I was elected class representative in school in Germany. I’ve stood up for what I believe in, despite the odds and consequences. I was asked to resign from my position as Pakistan Peoples Party information secretary in February because of the stance I took on CIA contractor Raymond Davis’s diplomatic status. Having read the Vienna Conventions, I maintain that he was entitled to diplomatic immunity. We could have saved ourselves the drama and just given it to him.
But my favorite mistake happened 20 years ago. My late husband, Wahab Siddiqui, who was a journalist and TV anchor, insisted I act in Kohar, a PTV soap written by Haseena Moin. I resisted. Hell, I refused. Acting was not my cup of tea, and I had resolutely refused earlier offers. I was a mother of three, juggling home life and, since 1988, volunteer work for the PPP. Wahab kept up the loving pressure. So I ended up playing a working mother, which wasn’t much of a stretch. But TV bugged me, why was I part of a manufactured world when I could be out there doing things that truly mattered? Kohar was only a five-episode miniseries. I didn’t enjoy the experience, but it strengthened my resolve to just follow my heart. And my heart was set firmly and completely on politics.
People didn’t take me any less seriously because of this acting stint. As a PPP volunteer, I worked hard, mobilized people, organized events—especially for women. My peers recognized these efforts and recommended my name to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto for party office in 1993. Later, she would nominate me to head the party’s human rights cell. It was in this party office that I wrote thousands of letters to rights organizations around the world protesting the innocence of her falsely-accused and incarcerated husband, Asif Ali Zardari.
I would never have done the Moin soap had our party’s government not been dismissed in August 1990. The dismissal didn’t dim my passion for politics, it did the opposite. And this is what worried my family, who thought I needed a diversion. I think it’s safe to say that their well-intentioned plan backfired.
Editor’s Note: Fauzia Wahab, Pakistan Peoples Party MNA, died on June 17, 2012, at Karachi’s Orthopedic and Medical Institute. Wahab was admitted to hospital in late May and underwent gall bladder surgery on May 30. She developed post-op complications shortly after and had been in a coma for several days prior to her death. The PPP announced 10 days of mourning. President Asif Ali Zardari also expressed profound grief, saying she died “fighting to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions.” She was 55.
This article, as narrated to Adnan Siddiqi, appeared in our Sept. 2 & 9, 2011, issue.