Zuleikha Zar was born in 1939 in Hyderabad Deccan to a ruling family originally from Lucknow. After the police action in September 1948, she and her family managed to take a train to Mumbai from where they boarded a ship to Karachi. Mrs. Zar's mother Begum Khurshid Abdul Hafiz was one of the first two women parliamentarians ever to have been elected to the Hyderabad State Assembly. During Partition, Mrs. Zar’s mother built 600 houses for widows of refugees in Karachi, whose husbands were murdered during their migratory journeys from India. She also built the Women’s Refugee Rehabilitation High School to educate women and their children, widowed and orphaned during Partition. She set up a free dispensary and an industrial home for women in Karachi as well. She also founded the Sir Syed College for Girls in Karachi.
In 1949, Mrs. Zar was enrolled at the Mama Parsi School for Girls in Karachi, becoming one of the youngest students to be admitted into the 6th class. She went on to graduate from the Women’s College on Rail Road in Karachi in 1957. In 1962, she won a scholarship to study for a PhD-level diploma at the Paris University in France. Upon her return to Karachi, after a brief stint as an economist with the Pakistan government, Mrs. Zar joined the Technical Wing of the Manpower Division at the Ministry of Labor, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis as their Deputy Chief. She also worked with the International Labor Organization as senior UN specialist for Women and Gender in the Asia Pacific region covering 23 countries. In December 1963, Mrs. Zar was married to her late husband from Kashmir, Sajjad Rasool Zar, a commissioned officer in the Pakistani army.