Suhaila Seddiqi

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Lieutenant General
Suhaila Siddiq
Minister of Public Health, Afghanistan
In office
December 2001 – 2004
President Hamid Karzai
Personal details
Born 1938
Kabul, Afghanistan

Lt Gen. Dr. Suhaila Siddiq (born in 1938), often referred to as 'General Suhaila', is a retired politician from Afghanistan. She served as the Minister of Public Health from December 2001 to 2004. Prior to that, she worked as the Surgeon General in the military of Afghanistan. As a government minister, she has been given the title Honorable before her name. Siddiq is one of few female government leaders in Afghanistan, and is the only woman in Afghanistan to hold the title of Lieutenant General. She has been working for the government of Afghanistan since Mohammed Zahir Shah's reign.

Early life and education[edit]

General Suhaila was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. She belongs to the royal Barakzai Mohammadzai Pashtun lineage[1][2]

After completing high school, she attended Kabul Medical University but completed her medical studies at Moscow State University in what was then the Soviet Union.[3]


During the government of Mohammad Najibullah (1987-1992), Siddiq was given the rank of surgeon general. She was the chief of surgery at the main Kabul hospital in Wazir Akbar Khan before and after the Taliban. Under the Taliban, she kept up the instruction of medicine for women, and managed to reopen the women's section of the hospital where she worked, after the Taliban had closed it.[4]

U.S. President George W. Bush in a meeting with Afghan ministers in the Oval Office on July 24, 2002. Pictured from left, are: Abdullah Abdullah, Sayed Mustafa Kazemi, Suhaila Siddiq, Mohammad Amin Farhang, and Habiba Sorabi.

After the removal of the Taliban government from Afghanistan by the United States and British Armed Forces, Siddiq was appointed as the Minister of Public Health and sworn in by Interim President Hamid Karzai. One of her first acts was to request help from the international community for the establishment a medical work force of women. She met a team from the World Health Organization (WHO) that was sent to the war-torn country to assess it health needs, and said that the training of Afghan women is key because they are a crucial asset in the health system.[5]

Suhaila Siddiq is considered a heroine from the Taliban period by many feminists. Both she and her sister Sidiqa, who was a professor at the Kabul Poly-technical Institute, were two of very few women who successfully refused to wear the burka. She is quoted as saying, "When the religious police came with their canes and raised their arms to hit me, I raised mine to hit them back. Then they lowered their arms and let me go."[4]

The following is a list of a few of the publicized activities of Suhaila Siddiq as minister:

Personal life[edit]

Siddiq lived all her life in Afghanistan. She has never been married because she was too dedicated to her profession and didn't have time for a husband:[3] "I didn't marry because I didn't want to take orders from a man."[9]


External links[edit]