Naheed Iskander Mirza

By Dr. Sohail Ansari

May be an image of 3 people and people standing

Nahid Iskander Mirza 6 February 1919 – 23 January 2019In 1951, Mohammad-Ebrahim Mirza Amirteymour Kalali was posted as Iran’s Military Attaché to Karachi. His daughter, Nahid Afghamy came with him. She was married to Colonel Mehdi Afghamy and had a daughter. It was then that she met Iskander Mirza, Secretary of Defence of Pakistan, at a reception in the Russian Embassy. He was married too, and had six children. Still he fell in love with her. The love blossomed, she divorced and married Iskander Mirza in September 1953.


Naheed: The Mysterious First Lady of Pakistan

By Waseem Altaf

She was the wife of Iranian military attaché to Pakistan namely Lieutenant Colonel Afghamy in 1951. It is conjectured that since the Colonel had close dealings with the Ministry of Defense, Naheed met Pakistan’s Secretary Defense Sikander Mirza in some social gathering at Karachi. Perhaps they got involved much earlier, however, It was much later that the family of Sikander Mirza came to know of the close relationship.The Secretary Defense’ elder son Hamayun Mirza was studying in London and every summer Sikander Mirza and his wife Rifat Mirza would visit their son in UK. In early 1952 Hamayun Mirza, received a letter and some money telling him that the wife of Iranian defense attaché would be visiting London and he was to take care of her during her visit. Later that year, Sikander Mirza asked his son Hamayun to look for a suitable school for the younger daughter of Mrs. Afghamy. In the spring of 1953, Mrs. Afghamy herself took her daughter to a school in England for enrollment.On June 4, 1953, the younger son of Sikander Mirza got killed in a plane crash. Sikander Mirza came to Selsdon Park Hotel in Croydon, Surrey for a private grieving. It was here that Hamayun witnessed Naheed coming to the hotel and comforting Sikander Mirza in a very intimate way. The son got infuriated by Naheed’s behavior but some guests cooled him down. A few days later Sikander Mirza sent his son Hamayun to Karachi to join his mother and four sisters while Sikander and Naheed stayed behind. A month later Sikander returned to his family in Karachi.In April, 1954 Sikander Mirza was appointed governor of East Pakistan as the ruling Muslim League lost elections in the province and governor rule was imposed. Sikander Mirza left for Dhaka but chose not to take his family along.It is not known when Naheed got divorce from Colonel Afghamy but she admitted that she and Sikander Mirza got married by proxy on July 7, 1953.However, the actual marriage ceremony took place on September 5, 1953. But there is no public record of her account.In November 1954,Hamayun was getting married with the daughter of US ambassador in Pakistan Horace. A. Hildreth yet none of his family was present at the occasion. His mother Rifat was in China with a women delegation while Sikander Mirza was in Karachi with his four daughters. It was then that Naheed informed him that she could no longer be his secret wife and the relationship must be disclosed to the public. Sikander disappeared for one week and on his return informed his four daughters that he had married the ex-wife of Colonel Afghamy. The son Hamayun came to know of his father’s secret marriage on his wedding day while the first wife Rifat became aware of her husband’s second marriage after she returned from China. Sikander Mirza left his family for good and from then onward Naheed was to play a pivotal role in his life.On October 6, 1955 Sikander Mirza took the oath of Governor- General and a week later all four provinces of West Pakistan were merged into a single West Pakistan Province to create parity with East Pakistan. On March 6 Sikander Mirza was elected as President and the constitution was promulgated on March 23, 1956. Three days later, on March 26, 1956 with Nahid on his side Sikander Mirza took the oath as President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Thus, in a passage of two years, mostly through palace intrigues and backroom dealings, an ex-soldier and a career bureaucrat rose from the level of a department head to the position of the Head of the State. And the Iranian born Nahid Afghamy, the wife of a Military Attaché lifted by a government Secretary of the host country, became the First Lady of Pakistan. For the next two and a half years Nahid Mirza as wife of the President was to play a significant role in the national and international affairs of Pakistan. (Pervez Munir Alvi,2013)Mirjaveh, which is the main crossing point between Iran and Pakistan, was ceded to Iran under the presidency of Iskander Mirza. Nahid Mirza played an instrumental role in the deal, Ahmed Yar Khan writes in Inside Balochistan.Exiled by General Ayub Khan in 1959, who took over power in a military coup, Mirza lived remainder of his life in exile in London, England where he financially struggled running a small Pakistan cuisine hotel until his death. He died of a heart attack on 13 November 1969, his 70th birthday. President Yahya Khan denied him a burial in Pakistan. The Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi sent his personal plane to London to bring President Mirza’s body to Tehran, where he was given a state funeral. Hundreds of Iranians, including Prime Minister Abbas Hoveyda, and Pakistani expatriates in Iran bade farewell and offered their prayers.The funeral ceremony was marred by the absence of Sikander Mirza’s relatives living in Pakistan. The military government barred them from leaving Pakistan in time despite the best efforts by Ardeshir Zahedi, Iran’s foreign minister, and President Sikander Mirza’s friends in Pakistan and Iran. There are unfounded rumors that after the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1979), his grave was desecrated.Naheed spent rest of her life in London in anonymity. Shepassed away in London on 25th January 2019.

30Yasmeen Kazi, Ghulam Nabi Kazi and 28 others11 CommentsLikeComment

About Amin H. Karim MD

Graduate of Dow Medical College Class of 1977.
This entry was posted in Karachi History. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Naheed Iskander Mirza

  1. Rayhan ahmed says:

    I don’t know what hatred general yahya had
    Against Mirza May be he was after the
    Same woman because yahya was a abit
    Of a druck and had lust for women we also lost
    East Pakistan because of this man .
    I have read stories of both of these individuals
    And it’s not a bed of roses 🌹.

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