Abida Hussain studied at Convent of Jesus & Mary, Lahore from where she obtained her “O” levels and “A” levels from Villa MiraMonte, Montreux, (Switzerland) after which she obtained a diploma in Fine Arts from Florence (Italy). She speaks five languages – English, French, Italian, Punjabi and Urdu. She majored in Economics and Political Science for her BA degree from BZU University in Pakistan
She is daughter of Late Hon. Col. Syed Abid Hussain Shah who was elected along with Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah to the Central Legislative Assembly of Undivided India in 1946, and became member of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in 1947, and a Minister in the Central Government in 1954; then Minister in the West Pakistan Government till 1958.
She is married to Syed Fakhar Imam who, like her, was thrice elected Member of National Assembly. Mr. Imam was Minister for Local Government (1981-83), Speaker of National Assembly (1985-86) and Federal Minister for Education (1990-93).
She is mother of three children – two daughters, Umme Kulsum Imam and Sughra Hussain Imam, and a son, Abid Hussain Imam.
- Umme Kulsum Imam graduated from Harvard University, did her Master at Imperial College of Science & Technology and is CEO of Davis Energen Power Company.
- Sughra Hussain Imam graduated from Harvard University, was elected Chair Jhang District Council in 1998, and Member Punjab Assembly in 2002. She was elected as Senator in 2009 and currently serves as Senator in Senate of Pakistan.
- Abid Hussain Imam graduated from Yale University, and is J.D. from Columbia Law School and currently Assistant Professor of Law at LUMS University in Lahore.
Abida Hussain’s interest in agriculture is well known. She is the Chief Executive of Shah Jewna Stud Farm (a premier thoroughbred horse breeding farm), and Cattle Breeders Ltd. (a modern dairy project). She is also a successful cotton and sugarcane grower.
Syeda Abida Hussain has a strong political background. She is an illustrious daughter of a renowned politician of pre-partition era who worked with Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Her family excelled in education and politics. Shah Jewna and Jhang became known to the people of Pakistan because of her family. Her grandfather Pir Syed Raje Shah Bokhari completed his education in 1889 from Chiefs College Lahore, which was an exalted quality education facility, created by the British for the rulers of Punjab and eventually named Aitchison College. He was appointed Honorary Magistrate in 1910, and died in an accident at the age of 34, in 1914.
She is the daughter of Late Hon. Col. Syed Abid Hussain Shah, a distinguished parliamentarian of undivided India, who was a member of Central Legislative Assembly (1946) and member of first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. He was close associate of the father of Nation, Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and an important leader of the Muslim league. He was a Minister in the Central Government of Pakistan (1954-55) and in the West Pakistan Government, (1955-58). During the Ayub Khan martial law, he struggled for the restoration of democracy along with other democratic forces. During Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah’s Presidential Election, he was her staunch supporter and went to jail for his opposition to Ayub Khan.
She is married to a renowned politician of Multan, District Khanewal, Syed Fakhar Imam. Syed Fakhar Imam has been elected member National Assembly three times. He was Federal Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (1981-83), Speaker National Assembly (1985-86) and Federal Minister for Education (1990-93). He set a high moral example in the country by resigning from the ministry when he lost district council’s elections for chairmanship for one vote.
Syeda Abida Hussain started her political career as a member of Provincial Assembly. She was elected member of Punjab Assembly (1972-83). For eight years and two terms (1979-83), she was elected Chairperson of District Council of Jhang, her home district in Punjab, Pakistan.
In 1985 Abida Hussain became the first woman of Pakistan to be directly elected in general elections as a Member National Assembly. She was re-elected Member National Assembly in 1988. In August 1990, she was appointed the Minister for Information and Broadcasting. In 1991 she was appointed Advisor to the Prime Minister for Population Welfare.
Syeda Abida Hussain was the first woman Ambassador of any Muslim country to The United States of America. She represented her country in the US, 1991 to 1993. In 1996 she was appointed Federal Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Culture, Sports, Tourism and Woman Development.
In 1997 she was elected Member National Assembly and was appointed Federal Minister for Population Welfare, Environment, Local Government and Rural Development, Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Woman’s Development, Social Welfare and Special Education. She resigned from Cabinet in May 1999.
In 2003 Syeda Abida Hussain transitioned from the Muslim League to the People’s Party, from where she had started her political career. Through a series of discourses with Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, Syeda Abida Hussain along with Syed Fakhar Imam made an important contribution towards the development of the Charter of Democracy, signed between the PML and the PPP in 2006.