Begum Mahmooda Salim Khan

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Begum Mahmooda Salim Khan, speaking at the opening of a new science block at a public school, Lahore, 1962

Begum Mahmooda Salim Khan (May 1913 – June 2007) was a Pakistani social worker, early political figure and a former cabinet minister in West Pakistan.


Begum Salim Khan was born in 1913, in Amritsar, Punjab, in then British India, the eldest daughter of the Punjabi aristocrat and renowned Unionist Party statesman, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan and his first wife, Begum Zubaida Khanum, of the Hayat Khattar family of Wah.[1]

After her mother's death in 1919, she was raised by her aunt and educated at the Aligarh school for Muslim women and the Queen Mary's College, Lahore.

In 1934, she was married to Khan-Sahib Abdus Salim Khan, Tarin,[2] of Talokar, eldest son of the prominent North-West Frontier Province leader, Khan Sahib Abdul Majid Khan Tarin, OBE; her husband was a civil servant in the Government of British India and later a member of the diplomatic service of the new state of Pakistan from 1947 onwards, and for the early part of her life she focussed chiefly on running her household and raising her three children.[3] She also became interested, gradually, in various types of social work at this time and began to involve herself in such activities.

Later life[edit]

On her husband's death in 1957, Begum Salim Khan moved to the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan, where she became increasingly involved in various social and charitable works over the years,[4] in close collaboration with other well-known women social workers such as Lady Viqar un Nisa Noon, Begum Zari Sarfaraz, Dr Attiya Inayatullah and to some extent Begum Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah; and eventually came to be amongst the chief executives of organizations such as the Family Planning Association of Pakistan,[5] the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, the National Crafts Council of Pakistan, the Anti TB Association of Pakistan,[6] the SOS Children's Villages, Pakistan and others. She also remained patron-president of the National Youth Council of Pakistan and received the Adelaide Ristori Award, Italy, in 1980, for her work in promoting cultural activities among Pakistani youth[citation needed]. She also received several other national and international awards for social service[citation needed].


During the 1960s, she also briefly remained West Pakistan's first ever woman cabinet minister, in the General Ayub Khan regime[7] but soon left politics to return full-time to her social work. Begum Salim Khan was active in her social and philanthropic activities till the end of her long and eventful life, and also fond of flowers and gardening[8] and she died peacefully at her home in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2007, aged 94 years.[9]


  1. ^ Shaukat Hayat Khan, "The Nation that Lost its Soul: Memoirs" Lahore: Jang Publishers, 1995, pp. 10-11
  2. ^ Ministerial Profile, Gazette of West Pakistan, March 1962
  3. ^ For further and fuller details see/consult The Begum Mahmooda Salim Khan (BMSK) Collection/Papers at the National Archives of Pakistan, Islamabad;
  4. ^ BMSK Collection/Papers, National Archives of Pakistan
  5. ^ Also see article on Family planning in Pakistan and the website of 'Rahnuma', the Family Planning Association of Pakistan, at
  6. ^ Pl see the website of the Anti TB Association of Pakistan
  7. ^ ; also see List of the first female holders of political offices in Asia on Wikipedia
  8. ^ Phyllis Irwin, MD, "Dr Memsaab: Stories of a Medical Missionary Mom", USA: Authorhouse, 2010, pp.74-75; ISBN 978-1-4520-2538-4
  9. ^ News obituary, The Nawai Waqt, Islamabad ed, June 18th 2007