Renowned poet Fahmida Riaz’s daughter, in protest against the alleged abduction and torture of journalists and writers by the state, has declined the presidential award that the government had announced for her late mother.

This is the second national award that has been turned down this year as earlier, Saeen Taj Joyo, the father of missing Sindhi teacher and activist Sarang Joyo, had also declined the President’s Pride of Performance (Nisan-e-Pakistan) award on account of the disappearance of his son.

Sarang Joyo was recently traced and claimed to have been tortured in captivity.


In a social media post, Fahmida Riaz’s daughter Veerta Ali Ujan said that accepting an award from the Imran Khan government on her mother’s behalf would be an insult to her struggle for justice and equality. “Harassers [are] being awarded. Karachi left to rot in sewage.”

She said had her mother been alive today, she would have also refused to accept the award from the government.

Born in Meerut in pre-partition India in 1946, Fahmida Riaz was among the leading Urdu poets.

She was also an unrelenting social critic and had been active in several human rights movements. She was among the writers, who had campaigned against former military ruler General Ziaul Haq’s regime and the execution of former prime minister (PM) Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

She had to suffer the wrath of authorities and also spent a period of self-exile in India.

She died on November 21, 2018, at the age of 72.