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The National Assembly Session has been prorogued on Friday, the 9th November, 2018 |
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Honorable Dr. Fahmida Mirza (SPEAKER, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF PAKISTAN)

Dr. Fehmida Mirza created history when on March 19, 2008 she was elected with an over two-third majority, to become the first woman Speaker of any elected House practicing parliamentary democracy, not only in Pakistan but in the entire Muslim World.

Her rise to such prominence comes as a tribute to her long and dedicated struggle, spanning almost two decades, as a pro-democracy activist and a committed political campaigner.

Having served in the 10th, 11th and now the 12th National Assembly, Dr. Mirza is counted among the senior and seasoned parliamentarians in the country.

Family Background:

Born on December 20, 1956 to a noted political and literary family of the Sindh province, Dr. Mirza is the second among her two brothers and four sisters. Her father, late Kazi Abdul Majeed Abid is regarded as a pioneer in contemporary Sindhi journalism, whose writings and analysis left a mark on his readers. A celebrated politician in his own right, Kazi Abid served as a Federal Minister in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo, where he was put in charge of important portfolios like Water & Power, Food & Agriculture, Information & Broadcasting and then Education. He was re-elected to the National Assembly in 1988 during the first tenure of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister.

Kazi Abid’s elder brother, Kazi Akbar Abbassi was considered among the close confidants of the Father of the Nation, the Quiad-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Dr. Mirza’s brother Kazi Asad Abid, was elected to the National Assembly in 1993. He also served as the Secretary General of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS).

She married Dr. Zulfikar Mirza, a noted politician from Badin, Sindh, in 1982. The Mirza family of Badin distinguishes itself for its long services, spanned over 200 years, in the fields of literature, historiography, judiciary and public service. Mirza Qaleech Baig, Dr. Zulfikar Mirza’s ancestor is remembered as the “Shakespeare of Sindh” while his father Justice Zafar Hussain Mirza served the nation as a distinguished Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and later as a Chairman of the Federal Public Service Commission. Dr. Zulfikar was first elected as the Member of National Assembly from Badin from 1993 till 1996 and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary. He was elected to the Provincial Assembly of Sindh in 2008 and was appointed as the Home Minister of the Province.

The couple is blessed with two sons and two daughters.

Education and Early Carrier:

Quest for knowledge and service to people, thus comes as a natural inheritance to Dr. Mirza. Educated at renowned institutions of the country, she was always regarded as a “keen student, never afraid of hard-work” by her teachers. She graduated as a medical doctor from Liaquat Medical College, Hyderabad in 1982 to serve as a gynecologist and pediatrician from 1983 to 1989 in various Government Hospitals. Such first-hand exposure to the sufferings of common people, the corresponding inadequate public health facilities and the attached socio-cultural sagas enabled Dr. Mirza to fully grasp the problems and seek sustainable solutions. Though she did not enter directly into the politics till 1997, Dr. Mirza actively started taking interest in social welfare projects by organizing, sponsoring or patronizing free medical camps, children’s immunization campaigns, small entrepreneurial schemes from poor rural women and similar community uplift ventures.

Political Carrier:

The dismissal of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s second government brought yet another round of political witch-hunt in Pakistan’s troubled political scenario. Dr. Zulfikar Mirza, MNA and a leading figure of Bhutto’s PPP was picked as a target and hence was unleashed a wave of victimization against the Mirza family. In such troubled times, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto decided to launch Dr. Fehmida Mirza into politics, thereby not only fighting for her personal injustice but also becoming a forceful voice against the undemocratic practices of the then regime. A reluctant Fehmida Mirza contested the 1997 elections and to hers --- and of many others’ surprise --- won with a convincing lead despite all State-sponsored poll rigging attempts.

The next three years would see Dr. Mirza fighting courtroom battles against a plethora of cooked-up charges, managing and saving family business in the teeth of official scrutiny, raising children as a single parent and at the same time becoming a strong voice in support of people’s rights and freedom from the floor of the House. A woman of strong nerves and commitment, she withstood the rigors of times and emerged as a mature politician.

These skills were further improved when she again returned successful in 2002 elections on a PPP ticket to sit in the opposition and oppose the military dictatorship of that time. Her party loyalty and close association with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto would continue to invite the State’s wrath. That Dr. Mirza stood by her principles, it goes without saying.

Election as Speaker:

The 2008 elections, contested in the aftermath of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s tragic assassination, saw the return of pro-democracy forces with a big margin. It was surely a time of great expectations and the political leadership rightly decided to give strong messages of hope to the nation through each decision taken. Dr. Fehmida Mirza was thus tipped to become the first woman Speaker of the country, which was not only a fine recognition to her loyalty to the Party but also a tribute to her firm commitment to the ideals of democracy, liberty and freedom. At the time of her election, she was also the first woman to have been elected to such exalted position in the entire Muslim World where responsible parliamentary democracy is in practice.

Actions as a Speaker:

The election of a woman to the high-pedestal office of the Speaker for the first time in the history of Pakistan has not only enabled the Parliament to stand-out among the State Institutions but has also brought much grace to the Chair itself. The visible change in the Members’ behavior is evident from the maintenance of quorum, adherence to the Rules of Business and discipline in personal conduct. She has effectively strengthened the non-partisan and natural role of the Speaker, which has duly been recognized by the Opposition and respected by the Treasury as she commands the trust and confidence from both sides of the Parliamentary Divide. Her milestone decision to appoint the Leader of the Opposition on the very first working day of her office and the very first ruling by her in the Chair, upholding the freedom of the press are some of the fine examples, set by her.

As Speaker, Dr. Mirza has also keenly devoted her energies in strengthening the Parliamentary Committee System, enabling them to become effective organs of law-making and parliamentary oversight. For the purpose, special emphasis has been placed on creating a stable research-base within the parliamentary set-up for the orientation of the Honourable Members and the training of Committee and other parliamentary staff.  The establishment of the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Studies under her speakership, thus, is a landmark achievement.

In the crucial sphere of inter-parliamentary relations, Dr Mirza has strongly advocated the ideals of “parliamentary diplomacy”. Through her various actions, she has ensured to build bridges and harness friendly relations with the international community. These include re-constituting and reactivating Friendship Groups in the National Assembly with different parliaments of the world and ensuring vibrant participation of Pakistan parliamentary delegations at various international forums like the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Asian Parliamentary Association, Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries, SAARC Speakers and Parliamentary Forum etc, It goes to her credit that numerous parliamentarians are now serving on various committees of these international and regional parliamentary associations while at the same time, important parliamentary events are also taking place in Pakistan.

An ardent advocate of parliamentary supremacy, Dr. Mirza has laid special emphasis on re-creating the image of the Parliament as an institution among the young minds. While batches of young scholars and youth are regularly invited to witness the proceedings of the National Assembly, vital steps have also been taken in renovating the building and reviving the archives of the Parliament.

Role as Speaker:

Dr. Mirza has positioned the role of the Speaker into one that champions the welfare of those on the edges of Pakistani society: abused and vulnerable women, children, displaced persons, victims of terrorism and the physically or mentally handicapped persons. As Patron-in-Chief of the Pakistan Autistic Society, she is striving for the well-being of persons with cerebral disorders, especially children.

On the other hand, in her capacity as the founding Patron of Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, Dr. Mirza has actually carved a distinguished place for women parliamentarians on the country’s political landscape whereby they are seen and recognized as a potent force to reckon with.

As Pakistan bravely braced the fall-out of the Global War on Terror, Dr. Mirza ensured Parliament’s association with people’s miseries by constituting a Speaker’s Relief Fund for the victims of terror. Contributed generously by the parliamentarians and other philanthropists, grants and donations were arranged through this fund for the displaced communities of Bajour, Swat, Dir and Bonair districts of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

International Travels:

Dr. Mirza has widely traveled to various parts of the world in her capacity as a parliamentarian as well as the Speaker.  She has lead Pakistan’s parliamentary delegations to the People’s Republic of China, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, India, Iran, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Africa, Austria, Switzerland, France, Isle of Mann and Panama.

 

 

Contact Info:

 
Islamabad Office:
National Assembly of Pakistan, Parliament House, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Ph: 92-51-9221082/83
Fax: 92-51-9221106.

Email: speaker@na.gov.pk
 
Residence Islamabad:
House No. 28 Minister’s Enclave, Sector F-5, Islamabad, Pakistan.