Ashtar was born in Lahore where he grew up with his younger brother and sister. It was in Lahore where his father practiced law, wrote books and articles in Urdu- eventually becoming a diplomat with the foreign ministry. He was the first in his family to leave Pakistan and study for his postgraduate degree at George Washington University. He returned to Pakistan to establish his career in law, got married, and brought Fatima into this world in 1989.
Ashtar has dedicated his career to his law practice, starting off working for and learning from esteemed lawyers like Dr. Khalid Ranjha and the late Ata-ullah Sajjad, moving on to establish his own practice in 1986. Due to his work and the reputation he built, Ashtar was appointed to hold his first public office as the Advisor to the Ministry of Human Rights in Pakistan. His experience in public office sparked a desire to serve his country as he went on to hold future offices such as the Advocate General of Punjab, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Law, Head of the Treaty Implementation Cell, and his most recent position as the Attorney General of Pakistan. He has represented our country’s interests at the highest levels and advised our local courts on a myriad of sensitive issues related to civil rights, gender violence, national security, and economic diplomacy.
His career and choices enabled Fatima to go out into the world and pursue her dreams. He shared with Fatima a special love for cooking and feeding people: just like his mother loved to cook (and father loved to eat!), so too did Ashtar. He grew up around a food-obsessed family which he passed on to his daughter. Fatima and Ashtar would most commonly be found together in the kitchen, cooking up some kind of storm, their language of love was food- cooking it, eating it, sharing it with everyone around them.
CHEF FATIMA FOUNDATION
In Ashtar’s own words from an article he penned in Dawn..
”There is not a single barrier she did not break: in areas where success is only granted to middle-aged men, Fatima smashed every glass ceiling she could. She transcended age, gender, faith, and ethnicity, and proudly planted a flag of her own. She understood with the sort of wisdom that was beyond her years, that the measure of our lives is not defined by our destination, but by the amount of distance we have travelled to get there. In Fatima’s case, some of that distance was literal: from Lahore to Karachi to New York to Los Angeles – I find it fitting that Fatima would cover all those miles between the city of lights and the city of angels; she represented both of those things to so many people.
Each minute of hers had a meaning to it: whether that meant having truffle toast in Brooklyn, or cooking at Thanksgiving, or helping, as she had always done, those that needed it.”
Ashtar continues, “My role here is to enable and facilitate what the Foundation wants to achieve. For me, this is how I can keep my daughter’s legacy alive and strong. I want her looking over at what we are doing with pride, because that is what she filled me with, every waking moment of her life. I miss her dearly and see the Foundation as a means of living and experiencing Fatima’s dream. It is meant to act as a stepping stone for others, and provide a platform from which we can share her message.”