Tomorrow in Surrey: Women Who Named the Unnamed: Pakistan’s & Local Women Heroes

pakistani women

What inspires me most about this program is the courage of the women it honours. Through their art, their activism, their poetry and their writing, they have dauntlessly challenged institutionalized systems of patriarchal, racial and religious authority, making the world a freer place for all of us regardless of who we are …

Tomorrow, Surrey Muse Arts Society (SMAS) presents “Women Who Named the Unnamed: Pakistan’s & Local Women Heroes” (Sept 28, 6 – 9 PM, Centre Stage, Surrey City Hall). It’s a groundbreaking three-hour stage show which recognizes, for the first time in Greater Vancouver, the contributions of 15 distinguished Pakistani, Punjabi, South Asian, Muslim and women of colour from Pakistan, Surrey and Vancouver to the development of our communities through literature, art, scholarship and activism.

Our distinguished guests for the evening are Sunera Thobani, Harsha Walia, Surjeet Kalsey, Darshan Maan, Indigenous scholar/historian Deanne Reder, and, Katheren Szabo. We will also recognize a Surrey Woman of Courage.

You can find out more about our program here:

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow!



The Honorable Asma Jahangir

Last Rites
2:30 PM
Tuesday, February 13
Outside the Gaddafi Stadium
Lahore, Pakistan

Last Public Speech

Last Tweet
‘Nehal Hashmi’s tone and words cannot be defended but use of contempt law selectively only undermines confidence in the system of justice’


Nigar Ahmad – A Great Punjabi Woman

nigar-ahmad1Nigar Ahmad (1945 – 2017)

Nigar Ahmad, an educationist and a woman’s rights activist, was one of the founding members of Women Action Forum (WAF) established in the 1980s to fight General Ziaul Haq’s Islamicization policies that attacked women’s status in Pakistan. Later, Nigar founded Aurat Foundation and served as its Executive Director for many years.

Her contributions to the enhancement of the status of women include mobilizing women candidates to run for local government during the 1993 and 1997 general elections, organizing networks of citizens’ action committees in 70 districts to provide support to women; organizing national conferences and radio programs to inform peasant women on health and agricultural issues. ‘She was a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1991 on the gender impact of a watershed management project in Azad Kashmir. She presented a case study to the Asian Development Bank on a pilot on credit for rural women, and, as a consultant to the United Nations Development Fund For Women, has been involved in a rural credit and gender sensitization training program of UNDP staff. Nigar has also been involved with the National Commission on the Status of Women, and the South Asian Partnership. She was a coauthor for the report on Women’s Development Programs for Pakistan’s Eighth Five-Year Plan.’ (

Nigar was awarded the Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah Life Time Achievement Award in 2010 for her work for the empowerment of women. She was one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, and a nominee from Pakistan of the Global Sisterhood Network.

Nigar was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. She was admitted to a hospital in Lahore for chest pain where she passed away on February 24, 2017. She was the daughter of Mian Riaz Uddin Ahmad, a prominent civil servant in the Punjab.


This is what Nigar had to say for George Bush, i wonder what she would have said for Donald Trump.

Fauzia Rafique

Uddari Weblog

Asma Jahangir: A Great (Punjabi) Woman

I had to face imprisonment and house arrests, but it made me tougher. As a lawyer, many a time I took up difficult and sensitive cases dealing with minorities’ and women’s rights. Yes, I constantly receive threats, and to be very honest, at times it is very scary. But I have to continue my work.’

Asma Jahangir is a lawyer (to say the least) defending the rights of women, children and men in Pakistan’s harsh climate of religious extremism, misogyny and child abuse. She does it in the courtroom, on the street, in the media, and on the international scene.

Since 1972, when she launched a case against the Government of the Punjab for the release of her father Malik Ghulam Jilani who was arrested for resigning from the National Assembly to protest the Pakistan Government’s military action in Bangladesh, Asma has been an honorable and courageous leader of Pakistan’s political, legal and social movements. She was one of the leaders of the long and often dangerous campaign waged by women activists against the Hadood Ordinances and the draft law on evidence; She forced the parliament to pass a legislation in favor of bonded child laborers of brick kilns. She is a founding/serving member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Women Action Forum (WAF), Punjab Women Lawyers Association (PWLA), and of the AGHS Legal Aid Cell that offers free legal services to vulnerable population groups.

In 2010, Asma was elected as the first woman President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She is a former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and a UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions from 1998 to 2004, and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief from 2004 to 2010.

She is the author of Divine Sanction? The Hadood Ordinance (1988) and Children of a Lesser God: Child Prisoners of Pakistan (1992). She has received numerous international and national awards including honorary Doctor of Law degrees from universities in Switzerland, Canada, and the USA; the Right Livelihood Award or the ‘alternative Nobel prize’ in 2014; American Bar Association’s International Human Rights Award in 1992; the Martin Ennals Award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, and Sitara-I-Imtiaz in 1995.

Asma was placed under house arrest and later imprisoned for participating in the movement for the restoration of democracy against the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq in 1983. She, and her family, has often been a target of vandalism, violent attacks, hate campaigns and character assassinations carried out by militant groups, political interests and their media representatives. Un-deterred, she continues to be a force to reckon with for each successive government, and for the interest groups who violate the rights of people.

More on Asma is here

Contact Asma Jahangir

View the above on its page
Great Women of Punjabi Origin

Years of unceasing democratic work against armed and unarmed adversaries, and in over four decades of active politics, Asma has refused to serve the interests of any colonial, hegemonic or familial power. At all times, she has taken a firm stand on the side of the people, often being victimized, and she has gone onto extend protection to them wherever and whenever possible. The local and international power brokers have introduced their own heroes who come backed with enormous resources and a wide international network of organizations, forums and media outlets. As is the nature of colonizing mind, they make it appear as if Pakistani women had no history of resistance prior to their presentation of it.

May be all this money, resources and influence will for some time sideline our real heroes such as Asma Jahangir, Hina Jillani, Hussain Naqi, Abdur Sattar Edhi and others. But sooner or later we will see through these schemes, and we will be able to acknowledge the ceaseless contributions to the betterment of our lives of our heroes like Asma Jahangir, and we will find deserving ways to nurture and honor them.

Fauzia Rafique

Contact Uddari

Amrita Sher-Gil National Art Week – Chandigarh 18 – 24 Feb/13

Dedicated to Amrita Sher-Gil on her birth centenary year


Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi
Cordially invites you to

Amrita Sher-Gil National Art week
A week-long celebration of art
By Artists/critics/writers/historians/curators

Exhibition of
Photographs of Umrao Singh Sher-Gil

Re-take of Amrita by Vivan Sundaram

18 to 24 February, 2013

At the Government Museum & Art Gallery, Sector 10 C, Chandigarh

Kindly take your seats 15 minutes before the start of the events
Photography and Phone calls prohibited

Diwan Manna, Chairman

Slide lectures, exhibition, film screening and dialogues
Between artists/critics/historians/writers and curators

18 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

Making of a Mural and other works: Slide Lecture by Anjolie Ela Menon – Artist
J. Swaminathan: Decades of Transit: Slide Lecture by S Kalidas – Art Commentator/ writer
Dialogue between Anjolie Ela Menon and S Kalidas
Opening of the Photography Exhibition:
Photographs of Umrao Singh Sher-Gil
and Re-take of Amrita by Vivan Sundaram
Exhibition of photographs will be opened on 18th February after the slide presentations
and remain open from 19 to 24 Feb 2013 between 11.30 am and 7.30 pm

19 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

The Pseudo – Archive: Slide Lecture by Pushpamala N. – Artist
Loving the Arts : Lecture by Ashok Vajpeyi – poet/art critic/writer
Dialogue between Ashok Vajpeyi and Pushpamala N.

20 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

The Politics of Contemplation: Slide Lecture by Sheba Chhachhi – Artist
At Home With My Maharaja: Entering the Palace-Museum in India: Slide Lecture by Kavita Singh – Art Historian/ curator/editor
Dialogue between Sheba Chhachhi and Kavita Singh

21 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

Stay politically incorrect forever: Slide Lecture by Mithu Sen – Artist
Skoda Prize : Slide Lecture by Girish Shahane – writer on art, cultural politics and curator/ Director – Art of the Skoda Prize for Indian Contemporary Art
Dialogue Between Mithu Sen and Girish Shahane

22 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

A Sensualist of the Eye: Slide Lecture by Navina Sundaram- filmmaker and tele-journalist
§ Screening of short film: Amrita Sher-Gil – A Family Album – Directed and written by Navina Sundaram
Go Away Closer: Slide Lecture by Dayanita Singh – Artist

23 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

The Colour of Doubt: Slide Lecture by Anju Dodiya – Artist
Art and Problems of Representation in Media: Lecture by Sadanand Menon – cultural commentator
Dialogue between Anju Dodiya and Sadanand Menon

24 February seminar in three sessions:
presentations and discussions 10.00 am to 6.00 pm

Session One 10.00 am to 12.30 pm (including 30 minutes for tea)
Altering Perceptions: Contemporary Art in Historic Museums: Slide Lecture by Tasneem Mehta – Director & Managing Trustee, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
§ Center Periphery Constellations: Slide Lecture by Alka Pande – Consultant Arts Advisor and Curator
From Timbuktu to Cincinnati- Works 2012: Slide Lecture by Atul Dodiya – Artist
Discussion: Locating the Self – Other: Moderator – Alka Pande, participants: Tasneem Mehta, Atul Dodiya and Alka Pande

12.30 to 1.30 pm lunch

Session Two 1.30 pm to 3.30 pm

Introduction of the art magazine Take on Art by Bhavna Kakar – Curator and Editor of Take on art magazine
The Body in Indian Art: Slide Lecture by Kishore Singh – Art Commentator
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art: Slide Lecture by Roobina Karode – Director Kiran Nader Museum of Art. New Delhi
Discussion: In search of the body – Moderator – Anju Dodiya, participants: Kishore Singh, Roobina Karode, Anju Dodiya

(3.30 pm to 4.00 pm Tea)

Session Three 4.00 to 6.00 pm
Recent Works: Slide Lecture by Vivan Sundaram – Artist
The Indian Modernists: Slide Lecture by Nanak Ganguly – curator and critic
Discussion: Museum, Biennale, Art Fair – Moderator – Sadanand Menon, participants: Vivan Sundaram, Nanak Ganguly, Sadanand Menon

dedicated to Amrita Sher-Gil on her birth centenary year

Protect Mirza-Sahiban’s Mausoleum in Punjab

Photo by Sohail Abid, 2010

This is the burying place of Mirza Sahiban in Danabad. It is facing the worst neglect because of the stigma attached to the two lovers. There is also danger that there graves may be erased by, the now stronger, conservative section of the local community. It must be declared a National Heritage site. The following information is shared by Sohail Abid on Facebook. Uddari

‘The mausoleum of Miraza-Sahiban, in depilated condition, is located in Danabad union council in Jaranwala. Local men do not let their women visit the mausoleum fearing they might follow the footsteps of Sahiban. People were convinced that visits by women to the mausoleum increased their chances of eloping and thus they banned women from visiting the place.

‘Hayat Kharal, from 384 GB Jhandwali village said Akram alias Akri’s daughter eloped with her lover five years ago when she returned from Mirza-Sahibain’s shrine. Sahadat Ali Kharal, a resident, told Daily Times that their forefathers believed that the “dirt cemetery of Mirza-Sahiban” should be demolished because many women would become immoral. Qasoo Kharal, another resident, said the memory of Mirza and Sahiban must be erased.’

‘That’s from a 2006 Daily Times story. When I visited the place in Dec 2010, it was there. Erasing the graves is not a matter as simple in the muslim tradition of the sub-continent. But yes, the people don’t really want to visit the mausoleum. This photo was taken during my visit in 2010.’

Sohail Abid

Related content at Uddari
‘SahebaN’s Name’ by Fauzia Rafique
‘SahebaN’s Name’, Part 2

Sign This Petition to Protect Asma Jahangir‏ – Pakistan’s Prime Jurist and Rights Activist

Uddari fully supports this international online petition (signature campaign) launched by Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) to lobby for the protection of Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s former UN Special Rapporteur for Religious Freedom and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association. Please Sign and Forward.

Sign The Petition

The petition will be sent to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Government of Pakistan as well as international Human Rights organisations, forums, think tanks, peace activists, journalist bodies, lawyers, and members of the European parliaments and their relevant committees. Please sign the petition and send out to your networks and through social media channels.

Asma Jahangir has been an outspoken human rights activist for over 30 years. These threats come at a time when multiple forces are trying to create instability in Pakistan prior to the upcoming elections.

Sign The Petition

Every single signature is important
As said in the press release issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), ‘it is not the conspiracy against a single individual rather it is an effort to suppress the freedom of conscience, democracy and cultural diversity in Pakistan. Needless to say, we will fight back and, needless to say, we shall win’.

The URL address for the Petition to Protect Asma Jahangir

Global Human Rights Defence
Laan van Meerdervoort 70
The Hague
Shiraz Raj,
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan