Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan is known as first Muslim women who worked as an ambassador, first Muslim governor and firs chancellor of the University of Karachi. She was first Muslim women to receive the Women achievement medal, Jan Adams medal and United Nation’s Human rights award in history.
Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan was born on 13th of February 1905 in Almora now known as Uttarakhand in India. Her birth name was Sheile Irene Pant and her religion was Christian. She got her early education at Wellesley Girls High School and then moved to IssabelaThoburn College. Later she got her B.A economics degree from University of Lucknow in 1927; she did her Masters in science with economics and Sociology.
After her education, she started her career as Teacher from Gokhala Memorial School and later she was appointed as Professor of Economics in Indraprastha College University of Delhi in 1931.
During her professional life she got chance to meet Nawbzada Liaquat Ali Khan (First Prime Minister of Pakistan) who came to her university to deliver lecture on law & justice and in December 1932 Pant Married to Liaquat Ali Khan and converted to Islam. At this moment, Sheile Irene Pant became Raana Liaquat Ali Khan.
Soon afterwards, she accompanied her husband to England and the couple persuaded Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah that Muslim nation needs him and he must return to India to lead Muslims.
She played a very important role in the history of Muslim League when Nawabzada Liqaut Ali Khan was the Secretary General of All India Muslim League. At the behest of Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, when fears of Japanese Invasion were rife during the First World War, She formed a small volunteer corps for nursing and first aid for the fighters and civilians that was her first experience of organizing Muslim Women.
She was among those pioneer ladies who brought women together involving and mobilizing them in Pakistan movement for it was of certain significance for the success of the movement that women should march side by side with men. Her participation in Pakistan movement and even after that is an evidence of importance of women’s role in the rise of nations and their economical, social or political growth and development or in success of any aspect of life.
In 1947 when Pakistan came into being, she came to Lahore as the refugees from across the border were coming to Lahore. She became the first lady as Liaquat Ali Khan, her husband, became the first prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. She mobilized Muslim women to emerge from home and help her in refugee camps like collecting, distributing, clothing, nursing, caring etc.
Later on, Begum Raana Liaquat Ali formed the Women National Guards and she was awarded with a rank of Brigadier. With the help of her best friend Kay Miles, she established a home for abducted women, an unemployment bureau, a lost and found bureau, widow’s home and other volunteer services. She opened a cottage industries’ shop to encourage women and migrant craftsmen to generate an income. She also flourished the Gul-e-Raana Nusrat Industrial home for women. Meanwhile from emergency relief, she extended her social activities to every aspect. She established All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA) and affiliated with United Nations. She also setup many Institutions in Karachi like Home Economics College for Girls and the professional and business women club and Hostel.She worked and put her great efforts to empower women, as she knew that empowering women is indispensable for bringing change and development in society.
After Assassination of Prime Minister Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951, she accepted a diplomatic assignment in Holland and later in Italy. She spoke on many International forums, highlighted the social and economics needs of Pakistan and spoke constantly. Breaking down the barriers and prejudice in 1960’s, she defied from the orthodox and persuaded President Ayub Khan to pass the family laws to protect women.
In year 1972, she joined Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s socialist government. She was a part of ministry finance and was the most trusted advisor to Bhutto and his regime. She had been very influential especially in economic concerning matters of government. She was also appointed as Governor Sindh in 1973.
In the year 1977, she took part in parliamentary elections and won but could not take charge of the office as Chief of Army Staff Gen. Zia Ul Haq seized Bhutto’s regime and imposed Martial Law. Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan ran an anti Zia campaign and stood bravely against the rule of the most powerful man of that time. Despite the consequences of her bad health and old age, she carried on speaking against military ruler attacking his agendas as he was passing laws which were against women rights and were conflicting with the Islamic teachings.
Her basic creed was Health, Education and training. She always encouraged her workers to acquire new professional skills and to participate in official decision-making bodies such as planning commission where APWA’s message could be heard. She was showered with many honors including the Nishan -e- Imtiaz.
Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan died in Karachi on 13 June in year 1990 due to cardiac arrest. She was given full state and military honors in her funeral. She is buried next to her husband’s grave in the boundaries of the Quaid-e-Azam’s burial chamber.
She will be known ever in the history because of her services to Mankind and Humanity.