Veteran politician Begum Naseem Wali Khan died on Sunday at at the age of 88, the Wali family confirmed.
According to family members, Begum Naseem Wali Khan breathed her last on Sunday after long illness. Begum Nasim was suffering from diabetes and cardiac issues. According to the press release from the Wali family, Begum Naseem’s funeral prayer (namaz-e-janaza) will be offered in their hometown in Charsadda.
Begum Nasim Wali Khan was the widow of Awami National Party (ANP) leader Abdul Wali Khan and the stepmother of ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan.
Born and raised in an active political family, Begum Naseem Wali appeared on the political front in 1975 when her husband Khan Abdul Wali Khan, president of the National Awami Party (NAP), was arrested. Wali Khan’s party was also banned by then prime minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Later on during the reign of General Ziaul Haq, Nasim took the helms of National Awami Party and lead a successful movement to have her husband and dozens of his political affiliates released from jail.
Nasim made history during her initial period in politics when she became the first woman elected from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on a general seat in the 1977 elections. As a parliamentary leader of Awami National Party (ANP) (founded in 1986) in the KP assembly, she also emerged as a top political powerbroker as she was elected for three consecutive terms.
Begum Naseem Wali contested elections in 1993 and 1997 as a candidate from Awami National Party and won the provincial assembly seat by defeating her male opponents. She also won the 1993 and 1997 provincial assembly elections making her a powerful nationalist leader in the region.
Advocate for women empowerment
Begum Naseem Wali Khan had always remained a strong proponent of women participation in electoral process. She believed that “women must take part in politics as they are a major part of society. Ignoring women means ignoring the majority of society”.
I laid the foundation of National Democratic Party (NDP) after consultation with my imprisoned husband and renowned Sindhi politician Sardar Sherbaz Mazari,” said Naseem, in an interview with the Express Tribune.
“My rivals in ANP were of the view that I should return to my normal life at home as the key purpose of my having joined politics had been achieved [with Khan’s release],” Nasim says. “Party colleagues who were opposed to my political career thought that being a Pashtun woman, I should not participate in public meetings and other political gatherings with men. However, Khan always snubbed that handful of people and defended my active role in ANP.”
Ultimately, though, her ANP rivals found an opportunity to oust her soon after the death of Wali Khan in 2006.
The first politician from Charsadda to make a separate political party
Due to some political differences with her party colleagues. Begum Naseem Wali Khan launched her own political party in 2014 named Awami National Party (Wali). This makes her the first ever Pashtun politician from Charsadda region to launch a separate party.