Mumtaz Shahnawaz

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Mumtaz Shahnawaz (1912–1948) was a Pakistani diplomat and writer.


Belonging to the most powerful and rich Arain family of Lahore, she was born to Mian Shahnawaz and his politically active wife, Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz. Thus, she was the granddaughter of Sir Muhammad Shafi, the influential leader from Punjab.

Pakistan Movement

Like her mother, Mumtaz Shahnawaz was drawn into the national movement as a Congress member but slowly shifted her sympathies towards to the Muslim League. Mumtaz or Tanzee as she was known to her family and friends was greatly influenced by Jinnah. Mumtaz Shahnawaz died at the age of 35 in a plane crash months after the creation of Pakistan, en route to New York to represent Pakistan at the UN General Assembly, the first woman in Asia to preside over a legislative session.

Literary skills

Her novel, The Heart Divided was the first novel on the partition of India. It tells the story of a Muslim family in North India during the 1940s. It provides a detailed account of Independence and Partition, though it stops short of the Partition riots. She died in 1948; leaving behind a first draft, which her family published unedited 11 years later. Hers is possibly the first English South Asian novel to have been written about Partition


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