Dr. Zeenat Quraishi Karzai is the wife of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and was the First Lady of Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. Originally from the city of Kandahar, she moved to Kabul where she lives at the Presidential Palace with her husband and their four children.
Born in 1970 and raised in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the daughter of a civil servant, Zenat Quraishi moved to Kabul after high school to attend Kabul University. She is an ethnic Pashtun. In 1993, she and her family escaped from the civil war to neighboring Quetta in Balochistan, Pakistan. She was a gynaecologist by profession, and has worked in hospitals treating Afghan refugees in Pakistan before she married Hamid Karzai.
She is a distant relative of the President and they have a son who was born in 2007, named Mirwais and a daughter named Malalai, born in 2012. Their third child, a daughter named Howsi, was born in a private hospital in Gurgaon, India in March 2014, when Dr. Zeenat Karzai was 44. Their fourth child, a daughter, was born on 3 September 2016 in Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. Dr. Zeenat belongs to the Quraish family line and her husband Karzai is from the Popalzai tribe.
She has been in Kabul for many years but she rarely ventures beyond the security layers of the presidential palace, which include four security checkpoints, two body searches and a secret code word. Although during her early years, before the 2004 presidential election, she used to go shopping alone. Most Afghans are not even aware that their president, Hamid Karzai, has been married since 1999.
For a president who has been credited for helping the women of Afghanistan regain their civil rights, Karzai has been criticized for being overly conservative with his own spouse. Many have accused Karzai of keeping the first lady out of the media’s reach over fears of criticism from conservative mullahs and religious leaders.
- "Afghan First Lady's quiet public debut". The Daily Telegraph. 10 Apr 2004. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
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