Tehmina Durrani (Writer/Women's Rights Campaigner)

tehmina-durrani.jpgTehmina Durrani (Urdu: تہمینہ درانی), a Durrani Pashtun, is the daughter of the late former Governor of State Bank of Pakistan and former Chairman of Pakistan International Airlines, Shahkur Ullah Durrani and grand-daughter of Sir Sikandar Hyat.

Her first book, My Feudal Lord, caused controversy in Pakistan’s male-dominated and women-baiting society describing her abusive and traumatic marriage with Ghulam Mustafa Khar, then Chief Minister and later Governor of Punjab and her experience of a feudal society.

She is today involved in the emancipation of women in Pakistan.

An Afghan Pathan by descent, and born into an educated and influential family of status, Durrani's was just 17, when she married Anees Khan, and they had one daughter, Tania. She divorced him in 1976 and then married Khar. In the process she had to give up claim of her daughter's custody.

It was Durrani's second marriage and the sixth marriage for Khar. The couple later divorced after 13 years and four children, Nasiba, Nafisa, Ali and Hamza. After her divorce, Durrani wrote her autobiography called My Feudal Lord in 1991, detailing her marriage with Khar.

The book made the international bestseller list, but stirred controversy in Pakistan for its' detailed description of her marriage, the abuse inflicted on her by her husband, a powerful and prominent political figure, thus initially banned in Pakistan.

The book told, how Khar beat Durrani, kidnapped their children, had a rip-roaring affair with her youngest sister, and once forced Durrani to strip naked, when she disobeyed his orders. 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 mullahs and maulvis. Khar later went on to marry Durrani's sister.

Since 2005 Durrani is associated with a non-governmental organization that works for the social rehabilitation of women after abuse. In 2001, Durrani publicly took on the caregiver role of Fakhra Yunas, the former wife of Bilal Khar, the son of Khar from his first marriage, after Fakhra had been a victim of an acid attack at the hands of Bilal, who then refused to let Fakhra undergo treatment.

Durrani arranged to take Yunas abroad, capturing media attention and spurring her commitment to bring Khar, convicted of the attack, to trial. Fakhra was initially denied passport to leave Pakistan to undergo surgery, because the government feared, the news would soil the reputation of Pakistan.

But later, under pressure from among others, Durrani, the government allowed her to leave Pakistan with Durrani, who was also successfully able to provide reconstructive surgery free-of-cost to Fakhra, courtesy of the Italian cosmetics firm Sant'Angelica. The firm is now working in Pakistan for many such battered and abused women.

"My Feudal Lord" has been translated into 36 languages and received many awards and recognition overseas for her courage. and is considered a heroine by many women in Pakistan.

Durrani resides in Lahore with her husband, Shahbaz Sharif, brother of Nawaz Sharif, whom she married at a secret but well attended ceremony in Dubai in 2003. Upon divorcing Khar, she signed away all financial support, lost custody of her children, her name, social standing and was disowned by her parents. Only when Khar re-married, did she regain custody of her four children.

Her second book, A Mirror to the Blind, is the autobiography of Abdul Sattar Edhi, the renowned Pakistani social worker, as narrated to her during the two years, she followed him on his rounds and in his daily life, published by the National Bureau of Publications in 1996.

Her third book, "Blasphemy", from 1998 marked her return to controversy, and was another success. In the novel she describes the secret lives of the Muslim clergy. 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. The book also made it into Pakistan's bestseller list.