A casual encounter between an Oxford University-educated scion of a Nawabi family and a comely young woman belonging to a Christian family of Kumaon transformed into a ‘happily ever after’ alliance. Their romantic entanglement had as its backdrop of the tug-of-war between Congress and Muslim League in undivided India. When Irene converted to Islam, her family ostracized her. Liaqat Ali Khan (1896-1951) went on to become the first Prime Minister of Pakistan and his wife Irene Pant (1905-90) attained
fame as his wife and fondly came to be known as Gul-e-Ra’ana. In the 1930s, women were not easily allowed to get an education or work.
The writer 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 upheavals of that time. 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 diplomat to several Western countries. On her return, she continued to work for empowerment of Muslim women of the country. She raised her voice against the dictatorial regime of Zia-ul-Haq. This book leaves no doubt that Irene Pant deserves to be counted as an iconic woman leader of South Asia, but we hardly know her.