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The 1947 Partition Archive Survivors and their Memories

Oral history with Malika Ali, 2016 March 4.
Oral history with Malika Ali, 2016 March 4.
Ali, Malika, 1945- and Hassan, Fakhra
Author (no Collectors):
Ali, Malika, 1945-, Hassan, Fakhra, Hassan, Fakhra, and Hassan, Fakhra
Malika Ali was born Malika Hafiz in 1945 at Hyderabad Deccan to a ruling class family hailing from Lucknow. Her mother was the first Muslim woman member of the Hyderabad State Assembly, and daughter of the Nawab of Lucknow. Her father, was a prominent journalist in India before Partition, carried on the same profession after his migration to Pakistan. He was also an advisor on political affairs to the Nizam of Hyderabad. Her maternal grandfather, besides being the Nawab, was a leading lawyer in British India, famous for winning a case against the British defending the Maharaja of the Princely State of Oudh, Mrs Ali recounts. Mrs Ali’s paternal grandfather was deputy commissioner working directly for the British Viceroy.“In those days, no paper currency was used. Both my grandfathers were paid large sums of money in coins. The coins used to come on donkey carts, and stored in the basement of my grandfather’s palace in Lucknow. The workers would count them all night,” she shares her mother’s memories.Her mother, she says, was driven to politics and philanthropy from a very early age. “In front of our grandfather’s palace in Hyderabad Deccan, there was Hyde Park which was a popular place for activists to rally together during the Independence movement, and give fiery speeches. In Lucknow, there was a Zenana Park [Ladies Park], where women would gather for political speeches. My mother’s grandmother used to take her to the parks in the evening. The ladies from the leading political parties in India at the time used to be there for meetings and discussions. My mother would sometimes would run to the stage and start speaking. The ladies in attendance were very impressed by her talents.”“At the age of seven years, she would buy sweets from her pocket money and distribute them to the workers in her house, instead of spending it on herself like the rest of her siblings,” Mrs Ali recounts.Sharing the unusual causes of her mother’s success in politics, Mrs Ali shares: “My father was the main person to have brushed up her skills. She was engaged to him at the age of seven years, and her rukhsati took place when she was 12 years old. My father was two decades older than her. He refined her public speaking skills and would sometimes write the speeches for her. With her husband’s efforts and help, she had won many admirers before she reached her teens. She was homeschooled and had a great command over the Persian language,” Mrs Ali says. Her mother is also known to have been one of the main speakers at the March 1940 rally at the Minto Park [now Iqbal Park] in Lahore.Mrs Ali is the youngest of four sisters and four brothers. She was raised at her parent’s home in Hyderabad Deccan before Partition. She migrated to Karachi with her family in 1949, after the police action in Hyderabad Deccan.“One of my maternal uncles was appointed as the Minister for the Princely State of Patiala, just before Partition. He helped us a lot in moving to Karachi safely,” she says.In Karachi, they were temporarily settled in the Victoria Chambers on Victoria Road [now Abdullah Haroon Road]. Her mother worked for the homeless refugees coming from India and raised funds to help them resettle in Karachi. “When they used to visit my mother, she used to cry over their sufferings. She went door-to-door meeting with every affluent woman she knew, and with their help, she set up the Women Refugees Rehabilitation Association and helped thousands of people acquire housing, education and jobs. The government had no role in supporting her efforts,” she says.In 1951, Mrs Ali’s school life began at a Methodist Convent in Karachi. She suffered an unexpected meningitis attack during the course of her studies, and was hospitalized for several weeks. She developed severe visual impairment as one of the side effects. She continued her schooling like any other normal child under her parents’ guidance, and went on to completing her bachelor’s education in 1969. The same years, she was married to her husband, a chartered accountant from Karachi, educated in the UK. The marriage took place in Karachi. They have one son, after Mrs Ali survived eight miscarriages. “I am a miracle of God,” she says lightheartedly.She accompanied her husband on his official trips to Egypt, Holland, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia. In 1984, she performed Hajj with her husband at Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Her husband passed away in 2011. Mrs Ali lives in Karachi with her son nowadays. She is engaged in various fundraising activities for the repair of ancient mosques in Kashmir, and planning to open a trust in the near future.Sharing her final thoughts on Partition, Mrs Ali says: “Pakistan came forth because of contributions from the rich families of Jalandhar and Amritsar. As Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs although we visit different places of worship, we seek the same God. We should fight the devil out and love the humanity, because it’s better to forgive and forget rather than remember and regret.
History and History
Urdu and English
Physical Description:
2 video files
Publication Info:
Karachi (Pakistan)
Karachi (Pakistan), March 4, 2016
Filmed interviews