Saturday, March 22, 2014

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Ah! Perween Rahman


Perween Rahman an Icon, a symbol of resistance, patron of people living in city’s suburbs,  was shot dead nearly a year ago on 13th March 2013 while she was on her way back from her office located in Orangi town, a remote area of Karachi. At the time of her brutal killing, she was working as director of Orangi Pilot Project

Like many people of this country, I also heard the news about her killing carelessly and pay no heed to the fact that what a great asset she was and her unfortunate killing is an irreparable loss not only for the people of Orangi town but for all the down trodden people living in the length & breadth of Pakistan.

Few weeks ago while sitting among group of friends the discussion about Orangi pilot project come up which infused in me the interest to know more about the  serene personality of Parween Rahman

I was curious to know more about this iconic person and my desired is fulfilled through a lecture organized at The Second Floor titled: Celebrating Perween Rahman: A Symbol of Resistance. The aim of this lecture was to unveil some of the hidden elements of Perween’s personality.

 Zubeida Mustafa, an eminent journalist,  Zohra Yusuf, Chairman Human Rights Commission of PakistanTasneem Siddiqui, founder of Saiban and Aquila Ismail, enlighten about the various aspects of Perween’s  personality.

 Mr. Tasneem Siddiqui while paying tribute to Perween said that she was a visionary person with a very unique thought process. Her personalities have many different dimensions and it is difficult to highlight all those attributes in limited time

After completing her degree as an Architect engineer, she started working with country’s well known architect Arif Hassan but she possesses an inborn desire to do something for the nation and its downtrodden people. Perween’s famous quote in early days of her career was ‘Will throughout my life, I design houses for rich people only’ was an indication of her burning desire to contribute for the betterment of society’s informal sector.

 Considering her desire to work for the betterment of people, Mr. Arif Hassan introduced her to Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan, founder of Orangi Pilot Project (OPP)
Although she joined OPP as a common member but because of her talent, vision and leadership qualities, she went on to become director of OPP.
Perween laid the foundation of underground sewerage system in Orangi. A project that begins with one house initially was later spread to ten thousand houses. The sanitation policy of government of Pakistan was prepared on this model and it was Perween and her team who were instrumental in developing this policy.
Perween believed that people are willing to accept new methodologies if they are provided proper information in this regard.
Perween think that it is a grave injustice that people of Pakistan are deprived of health, education, food and water and she fought against this injustice valiantly throughout her life
Zohra Yusuf, Chairman, HRCP said that me & my team frequently interact with Perween to discuss about city’s situation. Perween fought against land mafia and many other mafias. Zohra highlighted that how at different level women of Pakistan are trying to resist the oppressive forces. She concluded that our society has hit a new low with the killing of Perween.
Zubeida Mustafa while expressing her views said that Perween’s killing is an act of injustice for the whole society. She likes to remain low key but possess lot of knowledge about city. Perween was an ardent supporter of education and in this segment her work is expanded well beyond Orangi right to the flood hit areas of Sindh.

Perween was instrumental in introducing the concept of home schools in flood hit areas of Sindh in 2010. She has all the qualities of a good teacher and a motivator. Her real resistance was making an effort to change the society so that it can resist on its own. 
Introduction of women saving groups was another revolutionary initiative which was purely the brain child of Perween. At the moment more than 20 women saving groups are operating in Orangi town.

Chanda  a resident of Orangi and a member of one of the saving group said that Perween was a humble person who mingle up easily with the members of low income segments of society.

Anwar Rashid, who become director of OPP after Perween’s demise quoted that she was very distress with the existing living condition in Sindh’s villages and in a dejected tone informed us that compare to Sindh, Orangi town is a heaven.

Perween’s efforts were instrumental in setting up 32 schools in flood hit areas of Sindh province.   

Perween spend time and resources in building capacity of local people and she wants locals to work on their own and become independent. Perween was such a gentle person that she never used the word poor for the down trodden people but always call them low income similarly she used the word informal sector for slumps.

It is so disheartening that although one year passed but no headway is made in the investigation of her killing and heartless murderers of nation’s daughter are still free.

Aquila Ismail informed that investigations in Perween’s killings are reopened as her killing was a preplanned act of brutality.

Perween frequently received threats from anti social elements but her only answer to them was ‘I am not going anywhere till I am alive and only death can separate me from my people’ The iconic lady made her quote a truth and exposed the injustice prevailing in our society.

Although OPP is still playing role for the betterment of society but it is nearly impossible for the organization to fill the void left by Perween’s untimely death.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” This quote of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt is an ideal description of Perween Rahman’s personality.

Perween’s first death anniversary went by quietly. Our hyper media failed to remember this great lady who gave her life for this nation.

I salute Perween Rehman! The daughter of nation.

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