The 71st Pakistan Resolution Day and the Veiled Woman in the Picture

In my search for visual sources on the events of the 1940 Lahore Resolution, I accidentally found this picture, of all places, on Wikipedia.

 

 

Obviously, this is the official picture of the delegates taken after the Lahore resolution had been passed. We can recognize and name almost all the prominent male figures in the picture as they are amply recorded in our history. But the woman in her head-to-toe black burka is a mystery both literally, for we cannot see her face, and metaphorically because she is elided from our history.

Who was this woman? Did she participate in the discussions about the future of a Muslim state? And if so, did she represent the women of this future Muslim state?

I can only place her through association as if she, a woman, has no individual subjectivity free of reference. As if she can only be a dark contrasting shadow, a specter, in an otherwise bright frame. She obviously is not related to the man on her left, as there is a wider space between them. She was probably related to the man to her right, as the distance between them is negligible, their hands almost touching. It is hard to see her as a presence in her own right. But she is there in this most historical picture of Pakistani history recorded as a “dark” presence on the most auspicious day of Pakistan’s fight for independence.

Should I read her symbolically: as an emblem of women’s future in Pakistan, as the unresolved question that haunts Pakistan today, as an assertion for inclusion in history. What does her presence teach us? Is it a reminder? Is her presence a splinter in the flank of this group, for she is literally on the right flank, not too deeply lodged in the heart of the group but still struck in the collective corporate body of the “group” (for this is a group photo) as a constant reminder: “I was there” she seems to be saying “when you men were deciding our destiny.” A fact that we should remember so that we can acknowledge the existence of women—a majority—in our national space, not as an unresolved problem, or as secondary passive citizens but as equal inheritors of a nation imagined and demanded on march 23, 1940.

In our historical education about the creation of Pakistan, we learned about the exploits of pretty much all the male leaders present in this picture; we have seen their larger-than-life-posters plastered on city walls. But we have never heard or read a single word about this woman, who, let us not forget, was present that day when history was being made. What do her erasure and her silencing teach us?

So, on this day let us resolve to retrieve her story; let us stand against all those with a patriarchal and chauvinistic view of history. Let us move this spectral figure to the very heart of the group. Yes to the center, right next to Mr. Jinnah.

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[As Muhammad Ahmed, one of our readers in commens below,  informed us, her name is  Begum Amjadi Bano, wife of Maulana Maulana Muhammad Ali:

http://www.kahopakistan.com/showthread.php?4364-Amjadi-Bano-Begum-Muhammad-Ali

http://www.nazariapak.info/quaid/female_leadership.html]

 

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  6 comments for “The 71st Pakistan Resolution Day and the Veiled Woman in the Picture

  1. March 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I was thinking about the same thing. I even posted this image in my blog. I did not write about it but I was thinking about it all the same. I kept wondering who she was and why she was veiled. We see Fatima Jinnah and she is never veiled – we see her face and her resolve bare-naked for all to see. Who is this lady? Why is she covered? Why does she not reveal her face? Was she somebody’s wife? Sister? Mother? Friend? Is that her only role? Perhaps she happened to be there and was photographed. Perhaps she was a participant.
    You frighten me with your thought/question, that she might be a representative of all women in the future of this country. A dark covered being with no face. I do not mean to offend anyone’s religious beliefs but the thought of being bundled in a dark covering suffocates me.
    I’m glad you wrote about her, though.

    • Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja
      Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja
      March 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      Yes thank you. I should have mentioned that I had also seen this imageon your blog entry that I had reposted yesterday. I would be curious to find out who this woman was. I have had no luck so far, but do hope that some readers would respond with some clues or suggestions.

  2. Muhammad Ahmed
    April 5, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Found her! Her name is Begum Amjadi Bano, Wife of Maulana Muhammad Ali ( i guess that’s the guy she is holding hands with or something).

    http://www.kahopakistan.com/showthread.php?4364-Amjadi-Bano-Begum-Muhammad-Ali

    http://www.nazariapak.info/quaid/female_leadership.html

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