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A post made on Asma Nabeel’s Facebook page broke the news of the screenwriter’s passing on Thursday night. It read, “Inna lillahi wa inna illay hay raajaoon. It is with a heavy heart that I have to break this news that my bhabi Asma Nabeel is no longer with us,” followed by funerary details.
Although Asma’s body of work is limited, her impact and popularity are undeniable. The screenwriter worked on the hit show Khaani, as well as several other television serials including Khuda Mera Bhi Hai, Baandi and Surkh Chandni. Asma wrote strong characters who were part of important stories on pertinent topics, with Surkh Chandni depicting the life of an acid attack victim and how she speaks up against the injustice done to her. It also acknowledges and emphasises the legislation of acid and burns crime bills.
Khuda Mera Bhi Hai starred Aisha Khan as Mahgul, who gives birth to an intersex child. The series talks about many important topics such as domestic abuse, how divorce is considered taboo, social pressures, and most importantly, the rights of transgender people and intersex individuals in Pakistani society.
Khaani, starring Feroze Khan and Sana Javed, shot to nationwide fame and propelled the lead actors to greater heights in the showbiz industry.
The writer was also known for her activism with reference to breast cancer awareness. “Keep your faith strong and fight it out; that is the key to success and survival,” she said to those who were fighting the disease.
In a 2016 event report of The Express Tribune, Asma had said that the most important aspect of breast cancer, which is the word ‘breast’ itself, is considered taboo in our society. “Why must we feel ashamed of our body part, why can we not just talk about it normally?” she asked. Asma related her experiences during her visit to universities where she spoke about breasts and caused girls to laugh and boys to smirk. I told them that there is nothing funny about breast cancer and one must not feel shame about his or her body parts, she said.
There is still a lot to do in terms of creating awareness among society about breast cancer, she said. “When people are shy of talking about it, the risk of cancer increases,” she warned.
“Spread awareness among your social circle and ask them to spread it to others so that the message goes out to everyone,” she told her audience.
Tributes poured in as soon as the news of the writer’s death was made public, with prominent members of the film and television industry tweeting in memory of the late writer.
Epitome of kindness
Actor Adnan Siddiqui tweeted a message of remembrance for Asma writing, “#AsmaNabeel, you #warrior! Gone too soon… we were to witness your exceptionally written dramas many times over. May Allah grant you Jannah ul Firdous. Ameen.”
Khaani star Feroze Khan wrote on Twitter, “Asma Nabeel loses her battle against cancer but certainly won a better place up there. May her soul rest in peace. Inna lillahe wa inna ilyahe rajeoun.”
Veteran actor Samina Peerzada wrote about the writer’s bravery and kindness in the face of the debilitating disease. She shared, “Asma Nabeel, a cancer warrior, a brave heart and a kind soul will be missed for her work that she yet had to create. She wrote Khaani and many more. RIP, dear soul.”
Osman Khalid Butt, who starred in Asma’s Surkh Chandni alongside actor Sohai Ali Abro, tweeted, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. You left us too soon, but the fight is over. Now you rest. Forever indebted to you for giving me Amaan.” Actor Mansha Pasha, who also starred in the series, wrote a tribute to the late writer on Twitter. She shared her grief saying, “The saddest news ever. Asma Nabeel has passed away. I hope at such a moment amidst prayers for the departed we remember how short life is. She was a wonderfully positive person and I’m so proud to have worked in a serial written by her. Thank you, #AsmaNabeel.”
Actor Faysal Qureshi tweeted in memory of the writer, “Asma was such a fighter, a survivor, but at the end of the day, it’s Allah Ta'ala's will that prevails. May He grant her maghfirat & give her a beautiful place in Jannat ul Firdaus and give strength and solace to her bereaved family. Aameen”
Writer and host Vasay Chaudhry wrote about Asma’s impact on writers in the industry. He shared, “RIP Asma, the way you reached out to various screenwriters of Pakistan (including me) to form an association & got us together on One platform, we will always be indebted to you. May Allah bless your soul & give you the highest rank in Janat. Ameen”