“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste death but once.” Heartfelt words from the play Caesar, written by Shakespeare and repeated by Fatima Jinnah on the eve of her loss after the 1965 Presidential elections of Pakistan. The “Mother of the Nation” as she was dubbed, felt the elections had been rigged by the military dictator Ayub Khan whom she had lost to at the time. It was no surprise that after this, Fatima Jinnah was ousted as a prominent figure and remained in ostracism till her death in 1967. Although one will never know the truth about the elections that year, one thing must be said: she should not have been removed systematically from Pakistan’s history. Yes, her words may have angered several echelons of the ruling elite, but being expelled from the historical narrative as a notable person did more damage to Pakistan’s cultural outlook as a developing country. It also perhaps set a precedent for how things have evolved for women and have never really been set right for them. As an unfortunate series of persecution for her diatribe against the way things were being handled by the state, she was even labelled as a “traitor” at one point. For those followers of Jinnah, this was an extreme form of event to occur and an uncomfortable part of Pakistan’s history. These are things that the world and a younger generation would ask questions about, sooner or later. A beautiful drama now being re-enacted about her life story by women who don’t look like her or act like her, would be the new wave of narrative that is descending upon the generation, which will question what happened at that particular time in reality. Jinnah was adamant that Pakistan be foremost in assigning women to leadership roles. It is evident to see how easy it is for a woman to be erased – and then “rewritten.” I have always felt, and many might agree, that Fatima Jinnah was Pakistan’s first feminist and women’s empowerment leader. Her way of existing would possibly not have ever suited many conservatives. Her entire being and mode of living as a modern woman have not suited the narrative that the country might have been wanting to impose as what was the supposed culture of Pakistani women. Not much of the youth knew that she was an educated dentist who owned her private practice in the year 1927. This meant she was running her own business in the early 1900s and was financially independent. This was not a meek woman as is often shown due to the lack of information about her. This was a powerful individual who was deeply involved with state matters as well as had the education to lead conferences, seminars and political agendas. From 1947 till her death, she led women’s rallies, marches, and voting and ballot exercises, campaigned as a political candidate, travelled by train and road across the country extensively for work, and lived by herself for a great amount of her adult life until she passed away. She also enjoyed the right to free speech and extensive amounts of freedom from her guardian and benefactor brother, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the nation. Jinnah was a true promoter and stalwart of women’s rights. He sought them as equal inheritors of Pakistan. He was adamant that Pakistan be foremost in assigning women to leadership roles. Very open about his beliefs he said, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners.” Yet today, in modern-day Pakistan, one feels these beliefs were not implemented as part of the nation’s societal norms nor was it followed by the constitution. Women’s empowerment in Pakistan itself has had a marred history attached now with such strong opposition over the years, one fails to understand how Pakistan currently faces such a dilemma. Fatima Jinnah was one of many names alongside countless others who supported the governance of the nation with relentless energy and devotion. The decline seems to have stemmed much earlier than 1977 than is usually only blamed on the dictator Zia -ul Haq’s regime. His rule only highlighted and brought forward what was festering underneath for years; the brutality and extreme misogyny which was then put into practice and incorporated into the constitution under the covers of Islamization. Although, posthumously, she was given the title of the Madar -e- Millat (Mother of the nation) during her short time with the people of Pakistan her feelings to the governance related to being betrayed by those in power. One of her most blatant criticisms was of militancy interfering with the politics of Pakistan which she felt was the abandonment of the way set by her brother to ensure a democracy for the state of Pakistan. Her claims have held a bitter irony for Pakistan when till recently there has been a wave of opposition against the military interfering in politics till the present day. One occasion that serves as the post-independence official ‘gag order’ was when her speech was cut off and the mic access was closed as she vehemently criticized the government. Growing up in Pakistan, one is aware there have been very few women leaders who have been able to settle themselves into a niche where they feel safe enough to practice their professions effectively without facing adversity. Although there has been a recent flurry to gather more material about her, none of it is cohesive, nor extensive. People also often place great doubt on the authenticity of the literature found. Yet, this was the only surviving member of the founding father’s family and was herself considered a nation builder of the country. Her work has also covered taboo issues considered as such in the country such as the setup of maternity care mechanisms where till today certain topics surrounding the female figure are still forbidden to be spoken about here. I had the honour of meeting Mohtarma Jinnah’s grand-nephew, Liaquat H Merchant for research on my article, “Fatima Jinnah: The Nation Builder.” This came into being through the generosity of sharing of information by him and his office. Mr Merchant himself recounted details about her as well as gave me an anecdote that reveals how she directly asked him to come to Pakistan and settle here from India. She seemed straightforward and astute in her way of thinking till the very end of her days. Pakistan today rates at an appalling 145th place out of 146 countries on the gender parity index; beating Afghanistan by one position at the bottom end of the list. Women with adequate voices of discontentment here are either gaslighted out of existence or likened to treason or worse, considered as dissidents to be persecuted. I agree with promoting Pakistan through the perspective of the sacrifices of its founding members and with people jumping onto the bandwagon as it would be a name that would gather interest and learning. But one should do it with the reality of what truly happened to her with a transparent perspective on her life as well as what she was fighting for: freedom of speech and the ideals of an independent, free nation – for all its citizens. The writer is a security analyst with a focus on sociocultural issues.