LAHORE, Renowned Pakistani playwright and director Madeeha Gauhar, who was the founder of Ajoka theatre, died of cancer yesterday. She was 62.

Gauhar was battling with cancer for the last three years, according to her family.

She breathed her last yesterday morning at a hospital here. She will be laid to rest today (Thursday)

Known for her commitment to theatre for social change and promoting peace between Pakistan and India, Gauhar set up Ajoka Theatre in 1983 and regularly collaborated with Indian artists.

Ajoka performed in India on various occasions and is equally popular with theatre lovers there.

Born in Karachi in 1956, Gauhar focused mostly women issues like female literacy, honour killings, rights of the girl child, health and family planning in the Ajoka plays.

Ajoka's famous plays include 'Toba Tek Singh' (a play based on Manto's story on the Partition) 'Aik Thi Nani', 'Bulha', 'Letters to Uncle Sam', 'Mera Rang de Basanti Chola', 'Dara', 'Kon Hai Yay Ghustakh' and 'Lo Phir Basant Ayee'. Her theatre group also performed across Asia and Europe.

In 2006, Gauhar became the first Pakistani woman to be honoured with the prestigious Prince Claus Award for her leadership of Ajoka. The award was given to her by Ambassador of Netherlands Willem Andreae.

She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize from Pakistan in 2005.

She has left behind a husband, veteran director and writer Shahid Nadeem, and two sons