Renowned India-born Pakistani poet and human rights activist Fahmida Riaz has passed away following a prolonged illness at the age of 73 in Lahore today.
Riaz, who fled Pakistan during former military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq’s rule and lived in self exile in India for nearly seven years, had been unwell for the past few months.
Born into a literary family of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh in July, 1945 and settled in Hyderabad following her father’s transfer to Sindh province, always raised her voice for women rights and democracy in Pakistan, media reports said.
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Riaz, a well-known progressive Urdu writer, poet, human rights activist and feminist, worked with Radio Pakistan and BBC Urdu service (Radio), the report said.
Her Urdu publication Awaz grabbed the attention of Zia for its liberal and politically-charged content after which she and her second husband were charged with various cases and the magazine was shut down, the News International reported.
After her husband was arrested, she fled to India with her two children and sister, and got asylum. Her children went to school in India. Her husband later joined her in India after his release from jail, the report said.
The family spent almost seven years in exile in India before returning to Pakistan after Zia’s death. Riaz had been a poet in residence for Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi.
She was a prominent voice in the feminist struggle in Pakistan.