People from all walks of life, especially writers, intellectuals, artists and colleagues, expressed deep sorrow on the death of Madeeha Gauhar who fought for the rights of women and the downtrodden all her life and won acclaim by producing socially meaningful and relevant plays through the medium of theatre.
Shahid Mahmood Nadeem, husband of Madeeha Gauhar, said: “The achievements of Asma Jahangir in the field of human rights can be credited along with those of Madeeha Gauhar in the field of performing arts. Both had the courage to swim against the tide and they not only shared courage but also the same alma mater -- the Kinnaird College. They were tsunamis of change and real role models for men and women of Pakistan.”
Azad Theatre Executive Director Malik Aslam, a student of Madeeha Gauhar, said her death was a great loss. “She was an institution within herself. The parallel theatre we see today is the result of her efforts and a remarkable achievement,” he said.
Writer Asghar Nadeem Syed, a constant supporter of Ajoka’s ideology and plays, said: “Madeeha was the name of a movement; she lived life on her own terms and raised voice for the rights of minorities and women through theatre.”
Madeeha Gauhar also performed in his TV serial ‘Allao’ back in 1995, he said, adding that she was not only a great theatre director but also an actress of high merit.
Interactive Resource Center’s Muhammad Waseem, who performed in some of the early plays of Ajoka, also expressed his grief over the loss of an able director. “She was an inspiration when it comes to socially relevant theatre,” he said.
Huma Safdar said Madeeha Gauhar was a brave woman who did theatre as passion.
The Faiz Foundation Trust in its condolence message mourns the passing of Madeeha Gauhar. “For Madeeha Gauhar, theatre was a critical component of cultural life and identity. She challenged the brutal regime of Gen Ziaul Haq through her theatre group Ajoka and it’s many iconoclastic productions. She continued her work over the decades commenting on the issues and concerns which plagued social and political life in Pakistan.
“Madeeha Gauhar was a dedicated and courageous voice for peace in the region and took Ajoka across the border to audiences all over India. She was a tireless activist whose talent and energies were always committed to speaking on behalf of the downtrodden, specifically women and the minorities. We will miss her presence at the Faiz Festival this year and for years to come.”
Amjad Saleem Minhas (Punjab Lok Sangat) said Madeeha Gauhar always stood for the Anjuman-i-Mazareen and did theatre in villages for them. She used to participate in the Mazdoor Kisan Party meetings.
Writer Masood Ashar said an era of revolutionary plays had come to an end with the death of Madeeha Gauhar. She stood against despotic regime of Zia and founded Ajoka while swimming against the tide in those days, he said.
Originally published in Dawn, April 26th, 2018