LARKANA: Begum Dr Ashraf Abbasi, former deputy speaker of the National Assembly and a close aide to PPP founder leader Z.A. Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, died in Waleed village on Sunday. She was 91.

She has left three sons, former MPA Haji Munwwar Ali Abbasi, former senator Dr Safdar Abbasi and Akhtar Abbasi. She was the mother-in-law of Benazir Bhutto’s political secretary Naheed Khan.

Begum Abbasi, better known as ‘Amman doctor’ and ‘Ammi’, had been bed ridden for a long time, family sources said.

She did her secondary education from the D.J. College Sindh in 1940 and got admission in the Lady Hardinge Medical College for Girls in Delhi.

She remained a member of the West Pakistan Assembly from 1962 to 1965, joined PPP and won the NA-165 seat in 1970.

She became the first woman deputy speaker of the National Assembly in 1973 and held the position till 1977 and again from 1988 to 1990. She also served as the chairperson of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, Larkana campus.

In 1977, she won a Sindh Assembly seat and was made the minister for local government.

Begum Abbasi did her MBBS from the Dow Medical College when she was the mother of two. She was nominated as a member of the committee that drafted the 1973 constitution.

She also remained a member of the Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, and University of Sindh, Jamshoro, syndicates.

She took active part in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) and remained incarcerated in Sukkur jail for 14 months. She had been under house arrest four times in Karachi and Waleed (Larkana) during the PPP movement against martial law.

Begum Ashraf established the Mothers’ Trust in 1996 to serve poor women and headed it till her death.

She authored her biography which was published under the title of ‘Jaikey Halan Haikliyoon (the women who walk alone).

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2014

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