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INTERVIEW WITH SYEDA ABIDA HUSSAIN

  • Muhammad Shahzad
  • May, 2017
  • 1097
  • Interview

Q. WHO BROUGHT YOU INTO POLITICS?

The decision to join politics was made by me and my husband after mutual consultation. I had applied for the reserved seat for women from Pakistan People's Party. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto awarded me one. In fact he had visited to see my father in my house. It was then when I developed an acquaintance with him.

Q. DID YOU FACE ANY HURDLE IN JOINING POLITICS BY YOUR FAMILY?

Yes. I did. My cousins were not in favor of women stepping into politics. They made hue and cry when I decided to join politics but my husband and my mother encouraged and stood by me. I was elected as Member of Punjab Assembly in the first year of my entry into politics. Then I pledged to be elected as Member Assembly through General Election. In early months of 1977, Pakistan National Alliance launched a political movement against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto regime. In July 1977, General Zia had a successful military coup against Bhutto regime. In 1979, General Zia held local body election. I was elected as Member District Council, Jhang. Again my male family members tried to create hurdles but I enjoyed the support of my husband and my mother. Subsequently, I contested for the seat of Chairman District Council, Jhang and won the election. I was elected Chairman District Council, Jhang twice. I held the seat for four consecutive years. I played very active role in the assembly. Mr. Muhammad Khan Junejo, the Prime Minister of Pakistan offered me ministry but I declined the offer. I preferred to sit on the opposition benches instead of getting pleasure of ministry. From Opposition benches, I raised questions on the performance of the government and acted as an active assembly member from the opposition. In November 1988, general elections were held. I contested and won from two constituencies from Jhang, as an independent candidate. I was in contact with Madam Nusrat Bhutto. I gave vote of confidence in favor of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in the National Assembly for her premiership. However, I realized she was not running government affairs as desired. At that time she was just 35. Perhaps she was too young for the premiership.

Q. DID YOU HAVE MEETINGS WITH GENERAL PERVAIZ MUSHARRAF?

In 2002, I and Fakhar Imam met with General Musharraf, three times. It was General Musharraf who himself invited us to meet him. We asked him to restore assembly. We also asked him not to prolong his rule; hold transparent elections and transfer power to the elected ones. Since General Musharraf wanted to prolong his stay, he did not like our suggestions. We were not allowed to win the elections 2002 despite the fact we contested on the tickets of Pakistan Muslim League (Q). During General Musharraf era, we joined Peoples Party. Benazir Bhutto had promised me to run her government transparently if she got an opportunity to hold office of Prime Minister, the third time. Benazir Bhutto was martyred in 2007 and I did not contest election 2013. Fakhar Imam was the candidate but he lost with a little margin.

Q. DID YOU JOIN CARETAKER SET UP AFTER FALL OF BENAZIR REGIME?

I did. I was given the portfolio of Ministry of Information in the caretaker setup. I along with my husband took part in general elections in 1990. My husband won his seat while I lost. In fact, as I was part of caretaker government, I was unable to launch my election campaign enthusiastically. I contacted people of my constituency very late. In 1988, I had defeated Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. He had been murdered and the whole constituency was given blood bath later on. When I visited my constituency, I was not given a warm welcome. That's the main reason for my failure in that election. In 1991, Mian Nawaz Sharif made me Pakistan's ambassador to USA. I remained there till 1993. In the same year, the Nawaz government was ousted and I came back to Pakistan. In 1993, General Elections were held again. I took part but I lost once again. This time, my husband Syed Fakhar Imam also lost his seat. Both of us remained outside the assembly till 1996. At that time, sectarianism was at its peak. That was the major reason.

Q. BOTH OF BENAZIR GOVERNMENTS WERE OUSTED WITH YOUR CONSULTATIONS. WERE THERE CORRUPTION CHARGES OR OTHER PROBLEMS WITH MR. FAROOQ LEGHARI OR MR. GHULAM ISHAQ KHAN BEHIND THE SCENE?

The major reason was corruption. When political governments do not work up to the mark, there is always chance of military intervention.

Q. WHAT IS YOUR PROGRAM FOR NEXT ELECTION?

I am over 70 now. I don't find myself fit for contesting election. I and Fakhar Imam have decided to introduce our son from Fakhar Imam's constituency while my daughter Sughra Imam will contest from my constituency. I have sought...

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