Tehmina Durrani

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Tehmina Durrani in 1994

Tehmina Durrani (Urdu: تہمینہ درانی‎; born 18 February 1953) is the wife of Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Shaif, daughter of a former Governor of State Bank of Pakistan and managing director of Pakistan International Airlines, S.U. Durrani and a granddaughter of Nawab Sir Liaqat Hayat Khan, prime minister of Patiala state for eleven years. He was the elder brother of former Punjab Premier Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan. Her first book, My Feudal Lord, caused ripples in Pakistan's male-dominated society by describing her abusive and traumatic marriage to Ghulam Mustafa Khar, then Chief Minister and later Governor of Punjab and her experience of a feudal society. She is currently involved in the emancipation of women in Pakistan.[1]

Brief life sketch[edit]

Durrani was born into an educated and influential family and was only 17, when she married Anees Khan, and they had one daughter, Tania. She divorced him in 1976 and then married Khar, with whom she had an affair. In the process she had to give up the claim of her daughter's custody. It was Durrani's second marriage and the sixth marriage for Khar. Their marriage was marred by her husband's affair with her sister and physical abuse. The couple finally divorced after 13 years during which time they had four children, Nasiba, Nisha, Ali and Amir Hamza. After her divorce, Durrani wrote her autobiography called My Feudal Lord in 1991, detailing her marriage with Khar,known as the 'Lion of the Punjab', and right-hand man to Bhutto, as well as the hypocrisy of the elitist class and the contradictions in society. The book became an international best-seller very soon. Durrani was disowned by her family for the next thirteen years.[2] and depicts the gory details of her marriage, including the abuse inflicted on her by her powerful husband, a prominent political figure, leading it to be initially banned in Pakistan. The book narrates how Khar physically beat Durrani, kidnapped their children, had a heart breaking affair with her sibling, and even forced her to strip naked, when she disobeyed his orders.[3] She argued in the book that the real power of feudal landlords like Khar is derived from the distorted version of Islam that is supported by the silence of women and society as a whole[4] Tehmina Durrani later married the current Chief Minister of Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif. She has retained her maiden name Durrani due to the struggle it took to retrieve it from the famous name of her previous marriage. This was the third marriage of both Shahbaz Sharif and Tehmina Durrani.

My Feudal Lord rights dispute[edit]

In June 1991, My Feudal Lord was released by Vanguard Books, a company owned by journalists Najam Sethi and Jugnu Mohsin. It was an "instant sensation" and later became the "hottest book in Pakistan's history". Durrani refuted having signed a contract vesting complete foreign rights with Mohsin of foreign royalties and a commitment to that to continue even after her lifetime, binding her five children to the same contract.[5]

On 19 May 1999, however, Durrani called a press conference to denounce Sethi as having stolen all of her earnings from the book, stating that his actions were "an even bigger case of hypocrisy than my experience with the feudal system". At the time, Sethi was being detained without charge by Inter-Services Intelligence for his comments to a British Broadcasting Corporation news team about government corruption. Durrani sued Sethi for mental torture, and he countersued for defamation. An earlier dispute over the foreign rights had been settled out of court in 1992. A review of the contracts by the UK newspaper The Independent described Sethi as acting in good faith and described him and Mohsin as "the injured party".[5]

Current activities[edit]

Since 2005, Durrani is associated with work for the social rehabilitation of women .[6] In 2001, Durrani publicly took on the caregiver role of Fakhra Younus, the former wife of Bilal Khar, the son of Khar from his third marriage, after the former had been a victim of an acid attack allegedly at the hands of her husband who even refused to let her undergo treatment. Durrani arranged to take Yunas abroad, capturing media attention and spurring her commitment to bring Khar, convicted of the attack, to trial. When Fakhra was denied a passport to leave Pakistan to undergo surgery, because the government feared that the news would soil the reputation of Pakistan. But later, under the print media and public mobilised by Durrani, the government allowed her to leave Pakistan,[7] who was also successfully able to provide reconstructive surgery free-of-cost to Fakhra, courtesy of the Italian cosmetics firm Sant'Angelica and the government of Italy.[3] Smile Again, an Italian NGO under its president clarice Felli was brought in to work in Pakistan for many mutilated women until, for financial discrepancies it fell out with the Pakistan chapter run by Musarat Misba of Depilex and closed down the Italian Mother concern in Pakistan.[8] However, after twelve years of misery, Fakhra committed suicide on 17 March 2012 and was buried in Karachi a day later. Durrani received her body draped in an Italian and Pakistan flag.The funeral prayers for Yunas took place at Edhi centre Kharadar.[9] Durrani resides in Lahore with her husband, Shahbaz Sharif, brother of Nawaz Sharif, the current Chief Minister of Punjab whom she married at a private but well attended ceremony in Dubai in 2003.[10][11][12] Upon divorcing Khar, she signed away all financial support, lost custody of her children, her name, social standing and was disowned by her parents.[13] Only when Khar remarried, she did regain custody of her four children.

Main works[edit]

My Feudal Lord has been translated into 39 languages and received many awards and recognition overseas in recognition of the author's courage.[3] and she is regarded as a role model by many women in Pakistan.

Her second book, A Mirror to the Blind, is the biography of Abdul Sattar Edhi, Pakistan's renowned and highly decorated social worker, as narrated to her during the three years in which she lived at Edhi home and accompanied him on his visits in the course of his daily life. The book was published by the National Bureau of Publications, of Edhi Foundation and is the official documentation of the Founders life and message. in 1996.[4]

Her third book, Blasphemy, from 1998 marked her return to controversy, and was another success.[14] In the novel she describes the secret lives of the Muslim clergy and spiritual leaders or pirs. Durrani declares that the story is factual, with some names and events altered to protect the identity of the woman, who is at the center of the story. The book also delves into a critical approach to the tradition and practice of Nikah Halala, which she has highlighted through several cases resulting in humiliation and torture of Muslim women.[15] The book also made it into Pakistan's best-seller list.[16] She has thus been engaged in highlighting gender-based violence in Pakistan's rural and urban society.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

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