An afternoon well spent in the presence of eminent writers and book discussants as they reviewed Raj Gopal Singh Verma’s latest penned book titled ‘Pehli Aurat… Rana Liaqat Begum here today at Brews & Books Café, Shimla. Luminaries present were distinguished guests namely, Sri Srinivas Joshi as the chief guest and accompanying him were Dr Hemraj Kaushik and Atma Ranjan who shared their view about the book. Joining them were noted educationist and writer Rekha Vashisht and Rajendra Rajan. Other present were Rajkumar Rakesh, Sumit Vashist, Jaiwanti Dimri, Gupteshwar Nath Upadhyay, Dr KR Bharti to name a few.

As the story goes, the book is based on the life and times of Ra’ana Liaqat Ali Khan, who was the wife of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan. With few elements of fiction to add to storyline, this work is based on the true story of Rana Begum and the hardship that she faced all through her life. Liaqat Ali Khan was an Oxford-educated scion of a Nawabi family. She, a comely young woman from a Brahmin turned second-generation Christian family. While he rose to become the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Shaheed-e-Millat Liaqat Ali Khan, she came to be known as Gul-e-Ra’ana. Theirs was a beautiful story of love transcending the boundaries of nationalism and religion—a story worth telling.

Ranna Begum is an unknown name in India. Despite, this book offers a wonderful biography of the lady who spent her childhood, adolescent and early times in Almora, Lucknow, Calcutta and Delhi. But then, she was destined to be the wife of first PM of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, who hailed from Karnal and Muzaffarnagar of northern belt of India.

The latter part of the book offers equally interesting story, when Khan was shot dead. A heartening story to see how she sailed through the adversities of life and took care of two children. She made a place for herself, in an Islamic country and worked for the empowerment of burka clad women. She also served in many respectable positions, representing Pakistan on the global stage.

The discussants, who read the Hindi edition of the book, offered various insights into the story and touched upon different issues separately thus giving the audience a glimpse into the trying times that the Begum faced and fought through to make a name for herself.  (CLICK TO SEE ALL VIDEOS)

Raj Gopal Singh Verma narrates the fascinating story of this famous couple in the style of a fast-paced historical novel set against the complexities and violent upheavals of the Partition. After Liaqat’s assassination, the Begum brought up their two children alone and made a stellar contribution to Pakistan’s political, social and cultural domains. She also served as the country’s finance minister and a diplomat to several Western countries. On her return, she continued to work for the empowerment of Muslim women of the country. Born and brought up in an undivided India, this is a story of the lady of two nations and three religions: Begum Ra’ana Liaqat Ali Khan.



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