A courageous Pakistani woman who turned an adversity into a life-changing opportunity, Muniba Khurram is known as ‘an optimist who is physically challenged and differently able’. Rendered paraplegic after a car accident and wheelchair bound, her spirits and talent is boundless. A full-time mother, an acclaimed artist, content writer and a part-time volunteer social-worker, Muniba is currently running her own brand by the name of ‘Muniba’s Canvas’ and is ready to lead National Forum for Women with Disabilities (NFWWD). With a message of ‘Never Give Up’, Muniba stands strong as an inspirational example of strength and courage – and a woman who dares to be different.
Written by: Muniba Khurram
Muniba Mazari is of Baloch background, belonging to the tribe of Mazari. She was born in Rahim Yar Khan in southern Punjab on 3rd March, 1987. She has 2 younger brothers. Muniba went to the Army Public School, and later attend the college in her hometown. At the age of 18, before she could complete her studies, she was married to Khurram Shahzad, a former Pakistan Air Force pilot. In 2008, the couple was involved in an accident, which left Muniba paraplegic. The marriage did not last. The couple got separated in August 2014, and eventually divorced in 2015. In 2017, her husband sued her for PKR 10 million on accounts of defamation, and the case was dismissed in January 2018.
On 27 February 2008, Muniba and her husband were travelling from Quetta to Rahim Yar Khan. Their car met with an accident, in which she sustained several major injuries, including broken bones in her arm (both radius and ulna), rib-cage, shoulder blade, collarbone and spine. Her lungs and liver were also deeply cut. Moreover, her entire lower body was left paralysed. She was taken to a nearby hospital, which was ill-equipped to deal with such a severe case. She was then moved to a hospital in Rahim Yar Khan, and eventually, she was admitted to the Agha Khan Hospital, Karachi. Post-surgery, she was left bed-ridden for two years. Physiotherapy started, which helped her recover enough to use a wheelchair.
After treatment for her injuries, Muniba moved to Rawalpindi. Her mother moved in with her to take care of her, which eventually resulted in her parents’ divorce. In 2011, four years after the accident, Muniba adopted her son, Nael.
Muniba Mazari has gained fame in multiple areas, as an artist, activist, anchor, model, singer and motivational speaker. Most of her career, however, has been built on painting and motivational speaking.
While painting, she found a job working for Areeb Azhar to run his Facebook page for monthly wages. She also started work at her son’s school for a startup project called Dheeray Bolo (Speak Slowly), which involved teaching Urdu at various schools. The managing director of Pakistan Television (PTV) at the time, Mohammad Malick, learnt about her because of her TED talk, and asked her to work at PTV. She also worked for Clown Town in September, 2014, which allowed her to work with children and the elderly.
Apart from this, Muniba was chosen by Pond’s (a beauty brand) as the Pond’s Miracle Woman. She was also chosen by international hairdressing salon, Toni & Guy, to become the first-ever wheelchair-bound model in Asia. Her first campaign for them was called Women of Substance.
Muniba Mazari has been a part of Dil Say Pakistan’s campaign to spread the feeling of patriotism and unity in Pakistan. She has performed as a singer for them, including in a YouTube video which was published in August 2017 as part of their Independence Day campaign for that year.
In June 2019, Muniba was appointed by the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, to be a part of Pakistan’s first ever National Youth Council.