Former federal minister and PPP stalwart Firdous Ashiq Awan joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday.
Awan, along with her husband, was a staunch supporter of the PPP until party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari consolidated his control over the party.
It was reported recently that she had been in contact with PTI leaders and it was speculated that she would be changing her allegiance to PTI soon.
Those speculations were confirmed on Tuesday when the PTI tweeted a picture of her meeting with PTI's senior leadership.
"Firdous Ashiq Awan meets Jahangir Tareen. In a while, she will meet Imran Khan after which she will announce her inclusion into PTI," a tweet from PTI's official Twitter account read.
A few hours later, another tweet posted to the PTI account announced her inclusion in the party.
"I welcome Dr Firdous [Awan's] decision to join the PTI," Imran Khan was quoted as saying on the page. "Her inclusion in the party will strengthen the PTI in Punjab," he said.
"I have complete confidence in the PTI leadership," Dr Firdous was reported to have said.
"I will take up the PTI flag as a party worker and contribute towards the movement to build Pakistan," she added.
"The party's supporters will build a new Pakistan," Awan said.
Dr Firdous Awan: an exception among MNAs
Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has no political ambitions. The reason why the MNA, elected on a reserved seat by the PML-Q, joined the political caucus in the National Assembly was to promote her health-care agenda.
“I’m not interested in politics. For me, political achievement is a tool which I want to use to mobilise the government for a better system in health care,” said Dr Firdous Awan in an earlier interview with Dawn.
That says a lot about this 36-year-old, who is a graduate of the Fatima Jinnah Medical College, working at an inhuman pace of 19 hours daily.
“I’m crazy about my work. You’ll find me going from one hospital to another, helping patients needing urgent attention.”
Her target after taking her seat in the lower house of parliament is to start and ante and post-natal care programmes for the mother and child. She does not mince words, neither is she apologetic about the reasons for joining politics.
“No matter how dedicated you are, you need to pull strings in this country. That’s why when I was offered a reserved seat, I instantly said yes because my objectives are clear. I know that political influence is necessary for the kind of medical programme I am working on,” admits Dr Awan.
Getting nominated from the PML-Q’s platform is a sure surprise to people who are familiar with Dr Firdous Awan’s family. Her late father, Malik Ashiq Hussain Awan, was a strong supporter of the PPP.
In fact, he was responsible for making Sialkot a powerful constituency of the Pakistan People’s Party. Her brother, Malik Ijaz Husain, a senior executive member of the PPP, was twice given party ticket in the previous two general elections. Not swayed by familial ties, Dr Firdous Awan decided to choose her own independent course, which strengthened her impression of a woman not motivated by politics, but measuring parties by their actions.
“In 1996, the Punjab was badly hit by floods. I had just graduated from the FJ and had also established an organisation — Shade — which gave free medical aid to people. We were working round-the-clock in the worst-hit areas when Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister at that time, approached me,” explains Dr Firdous Awan.
Dr Awan, who was also the house officer at the Ganga Ram Hospital, and her Shade team were spared all the appropriate assistance to help the flood affected victims. It greatly facilitated her work, at the same time made her realise the importance of political influence. “We worked untiringly for consecutive 36 days.” She holds a post-graduate diploma, sponsored by the UN, in hospital administration.
Dr Awan is one of few women to sit in the assembly with an impressive educational and professional record. She is also among a handful of women whose work shows more than her words.