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ANP's 'iron lady' Begum Nasim Wali Khan dies at 85

PESHAWAR/CHARSADDA: The widow of the Awami National Party (ANP) Rehbar-e-Tehreek Khan Abdul Wali Khan and former provincial president of the ANP Begum Nasim Wali Khan, who was also known as Mor Bibi, breathed her last after a protracted illness. She was 85.

She was laid to rest at Wali Bagh in Charsadda next to the grave of her husband on Sunday evening after her funeral prayer attended by a large number of party workers and well-wishers.

ANP senior leader Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Amir Haider Khan Hoti, Member National Assembly Mohsin Dawar, Member Provincial Assembly Ikhtiar Wali, Maulana Syed Gohar Shah, PMLN leader Amir Muqam, former senator Ghulam Ali, Shah Said, Abdul Nabi Bangash, former senator Zahid Khan, Aimal Wali Khan and others attended the funeral prayer.

ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan could not attend her funeral due to his illness. Known religious scholar Maulana Mohsinuddin Sabehaq led the funeral prayers. Begum Nasim Wali Khan had multiple health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart ailment.

According to information obtained from Bacha Khan Markaz, central secretariat of the ANP in Peshawar, Begum Nasim Wali Khan was born on January 4, 1936 at Par Hoti in Mardan in the house of noted Khudai Khidmatgar Amir Mohammad Khan, who was also the grandfather of the former chief minister and now central senior vice president of ANP Ameer Haider Khan Hoti. She was married to Khan Abdul Wali Khan in 1954 at the age of 18 years after the death of his first wife, who was the mother of Asfandyar Wali Khan.

Nasim Wali Khan could not continue her education due to her early marriage. She entered politics in 1975 when her husband Abdul Wali Khan was arrested along with senior party leaders and detained in Hyderabad jail during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had banned the National Awami Party (NAP) and there was no male member in Wali Khan’s family to continue political struggle and offer resistance to the then government.

In the beginning, she launched the National Democratic Party and Sher Baz Khan Mazari was its first president and won the Hyderabad tribunal case.

In the 1977 general elections, Begum Nasim Wali Khan became the first Pakhtun woman as well as Pakistani woman politician, who was elected to the Parliament in direct elections. She won from two constituencies, one from Charsadda, and other from Swabi, which was part of the Mardan district then. However, she could not take oath as a member of the National Assembly due to political turmoil and imposition of martial law the same year.

When Wali Khan launched the Awami National Party in 1986, she continued her political association with the new party and remained at home for some time but soon participated in electoral politics and contested 1988 general election for then NWFP Assembly. She was elected to the provincial assembly four times and never lost elections in the general polls. She was the only member in Wali Khan’s family who did not lose elections as her husband Wali Khan, her sons Asfandyar Wali and Sangeen Wali Khan had faced defeats in the general elections.

In 1994, Begum Nasim was elected as provincial president of the party and served for four consecutive terms. She was also known as the ‘iron lady’. It was during her term as ANP’s provincial president when the Bacha Khan Markaz was constructed in Peshawar.

After the death of Wali Khan in 2006, she developed differences with Asfandyar Wali Khan and other party leadership and remained at home for more than five years but then with some other party dissident leadership including Farid Khan Toofan and Abdur Rahman Khan Kafoor Dheri founded Awami National Party (Wali) of which she was central president and Farid Toofan as general secretary.

However, she dissolved her party and announced a merger with ANP after the 2013 general elections when Asfandyar Wali Khan visited her home along with his son Aimal Wali Khan. He requested and convinced her to rejoin the ANP.

In their condolence messages, ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan, central senior president Amir Haider Khan Hoti, provincial president Aimal Wali Khan termed the death of Begum Nasim Wali as the biggest loss to the party and Pakhtuns and said that she continued her political struggle and resistance at a time when all the male and senior leadership were in jail.

They said that Mor Bibi was an icon lady in the Pakhtun society who not only participated in active politics but also contested the general elections and remained undefeated.

ANP central spokesperson Zahid Khan in his message said the party would observe three-day mourning and all political activities and gatherings would be suspended for the next three days to pay homage to Begum Nasim Wali, who was also known as Mor Bibi among party workers.

President Dr Arif Alvi, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other expressed condolences on the sad demise of Begum Nasim Wali Khan.

They prayed that Allah Almighty bless the departed soul in eternal peace and grant solace to the bereaved family.