Saturday, 24 January 2015
Internationally the most influential monarch and Pakistan's great friend King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia passed away early Friday morning, leaving behind a politically stable kingdom and a people set to break away from their conservative past. A wise and sagacious king he was, who proved to the world that what matters to the people is not the form of government but the quality of governance it produces. During his rule as king since 1 August 2005 and before that as de facto regent for a decade after his brother King Fahd suffered a stroke, he cautiously pushed changes in a radically conservative Islamic country, introduced a series of socio-economic reforms and increased political space for women, side-stepping stiff opposition. About women's rights King Abdullah, who was widely known as cautious reformer, famously said: "I strongly believe in rights of women, my mother is a woman, my sister is a woman, my daughter is a woman and my wife is a woman". In 2012, he extended to women the right to vote and contest municipal elections. His mother being of Bedouin descent, as a child King Abdullah spent long spells of his childhood in the desert.