Afia first appears on 28 December 2009, attending Syed Masood and Amira Shah's Mehndi celebration with her friend Zulekha Abbasi. Zulekha gives Syed's brother Tamwar Afia's mobile number, though he thinks it is Zulekha's, and arranges a date. He is surprised when Afia turns up instead, and she says he is cute in a "geek chic" way. Tamwar lies that he is a student at Oxford University and when Afia discovers the truth, she finds it amusing but Tamwar is unable to see the funny side of the situation, and so Afia ends their relationship feeling Tamwar takes himself too seriously.
Off-screen, Afia's mother dies and several months later, she contacts Tamwar; they meet again and start dating. Tamwar meets Afia's father Yusef who approves of their relationship, but when Tamwar introduces Yusef to his parents, Zainab and Masood Ahmed, it is revealed he is Zainab's ex-husband whose family set her on fire in Pakistan after her affair with Masood was discovered. Tamwar is forbidden to see Afia but he does so, regardless, threatening to move out if his parents object. Eventually, Zainab and Masood agree they can see each other and Zainab grows fond of Afia.
In the midst of continued animosity between the Masoods and Yusef, Afia and Tamwar marry in secret the night before their mangni (engagement party), breaking the news to their shocked family during the party. Meanwhile, Zainab softens towards Yusef, accepting that he was not involved in his family's attempt to burn her alive. Their renewed closeness alienates Masood, who leaves Zainab and she starts seeing Yusef regularly. When Afia's relative Tariq informs her that Yusef did start the fire that burnt Zainab, she keeps it from Tamwar but orders Yusef to tell Zainab. By this time, Yusef has made Zainab dependent on him so she agrees to marry him anyway. Yusef abuses Zainab mentally and physically, and when this is made public, Masood tries to get him arrested. However, Afia helps Yusef escape and he starts a fire at the Bed and breakfast where Masood is staying, hoping to kill him. Believing Masood is trapped, Yusef gloats to Zainab and threatens her so she lies that Afia is also inside. He and Tamwar go into the burning building to save Afia but while Masood and Tamwar escape unharmed, Yusef perishes but Tamwar is left scarred by burns.
Afia grieves for her father and injured husband but Tamwar cannot comfort her and even refuses to see her while he is in hospital, angered that she kept Yusef's confession that he burnt Zainab from him. He continues to ignore her when he comes home and is angered by Afia's plan to spend Yusef's money on plastic surgery to reduce his scars, telling her to leave if she does not like him as he is. Guilt-ridden, Zainab admits she sent Yusef into the burning building to his death and is responsible for Tamwar’s injuries, but despite initial uproar, Afia forgives Zainab when the true extent of Yusef's abuse is divulged. Afia and Tamwar sort out their differences and try to make a success of running the Masood family restaurant but long hours and Zainab's interference puts further strain on their marriage. Tamwar heeds Zainab's advice and suggests to Afia that they start a family, believing she will settle once she has a child. However, Afia refuses, suggesting that they go traveling instead. Tamwar agrees but Afia is displeased when she realizes that he wants to return to Walford after their trip. Afia, however, doesn't know where precisely she wants to go or how long for, so realizing that she and Tamwar want different things from life, Afia tells Tamwar that she loves him and leaves Walford.