Power Failure: The Political Odyssey of a Pakistani Woman

    Written by: Ismail Umar
    Posted on: April 28, 2015 | Post your comment here Comments

    (l-r) Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Syeda Abida Hussain and Abbas Rashid - ILF 2015 - Day 2: Power Failure: The Political Odyssey of a Pakistani Woman

    (l-r) Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Syeda Abida Hussain and Abbas Rashid

    On the second day of the ILF 2015, an engaging discussion was held on Syeda Abida Hussain’s autobiographical book, ‘Power Failure: The Political Odyssey of a Pakistani Woman’. The book provides a personalized outlook on the political history of Pakistan through the eyes of Abida Hussain, intermixed with her own life story. It starts from the latter years of Ayub Khan’s rule, and concludes with Benazir’s Bhutto’s assassination in 2007. It is the real-life story of a woman who pushed boundaries, lived a challenging yet fascinating life, and played a momentous role in Pakistan’s recent turbulent history with poise and dignity.

    The panelists at the session were Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed and Syeda Abida Hussain, and the discussion was moderated by Abbas Rashid, a renowned social worker and chairman of the Society for the Advancement of Education (SAHE).

    Abbas Rashid introduced Abida Hussain by stating that she had the distinction of being the first woman to be popularly elected as a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, as well as the first female chairperson of the District Council. He commended her writing style, stating that her inclusion of personal anecdotes made her book highly enjoyable. Rashid then introduced Senator Mushahid Hussain by praising his ceaseless efforts in promoting Pakistan-China relations, for which he recently received the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence Friendship Award’ from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    In the ensuing discussion, Abida Hussain described how her hometown, the once-peaceful and culturally rich city of Jhang, was transformed with the coming of the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a political party that spread extremism and sectarian hatred, and targeted the Shi’a community in the district. Later, when Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the leader of the Sipah-e-Sahaba was murdered, the situation became even worse, further escalating violence and bloodshed in the region. Since then, Abida has faced constant threats to her life with admirable calmness and composure.

    Senator Mushahid Hussain praised Abida Hussain’s unique writing style. He said that her book reflected her vibrant personality; she was a very good storyteller and a great conversationalist. He said that many written works by politicians tend to be uninteresting, and are often censored. Abida, on the other hand, provides an anecdotal account that remains exhilarating throughout. She gives fascinating insights into the role of parliament and military rule in the 1980s. Moreover, he said that her vivid description of her experiences as an ambassador to the United States shows the reader that despite strong foreign pressures, Pakistan has stood its ground in the political, civil and military departments. “I must compliment her. She provides something which is food for thought for a lot of politicians in this country, and for the public at large. It’s a very engaging book, and once you start reading it, you don’t put it down”.


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