Asma Jahangir, leading human rights lawyer, passes away in Lahore

Lynette Rowe
February 12, 2018

Pakistan's well known human rights lawyer and social activist Asma Jahangir died here on Sunday of cardiac arrest.

Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari has expressed profound grief and sorrow over the sudden death of human rights activist and eminent lawyer Asma Jahangir. The funeral would take place after Salima's return to Pakistan, the family announced.

"Asma Jahangir "YOU'RE MY PRIDE", tweeted someone who went by the name Arya Stark Khan, with a profile picture of Arya Stark of the famous HBO series Game of Thrones". She was also awarded a UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights and an Officier de la L├ęgion d'honneur by France. He added that the deceased lawyer fought fearelessly for rights of humans. It is an irreparable loss. She was hailed as a courageous crusader, awarded dozens of global honors, nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and described as "the gutsiest woman" in Pakistan. Maryan Nawaz, daughter of Nawaz Sharif, tweeted. She remained house arrest in 2007 for nine days.

Senior researcher at Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Baseer Naveed echoed the popular thought that Pakistan has lost a strong voice of democracy, intolerance, rule of law and human rights. May her soul rest in peace.

"My hero, the woman I always looked up to, the woman who inspired me- heart broken- can't imagine how we will ever recover from this #AsmaJhangir #pakistan" said Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid.

"@Asma_jahangir What a fearless woman".

Over her demise, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said the entire country paid tribute to Jahangir's services. Her daughter Muneezay Jehangir is a TV anchor.

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Born in Lahore in Janurary 1952, Jahangir dedicated her distinguished career to defending the rights of women, minorities, and children from religious extremism, honor killings, and blasphemy laws. "There was a time in 2008 and 2009 that she raised a bold voice for the missing persons including the Baloch Missing Persons that was the opponents in Pakistan called her a RAW agent, Mosad agent and an American lobbyist". She obtained a LLB degree from Punjab University.

Her early activism was forged as a young woman during the repressive military rule of Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, when she was arrested and imprisoned for protesting against Zia's harsh "Islamization" policies and curtailment of women's rights. "Then prisoners' rights became an issue".

She was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran in September 2016 and delivered regular reports on the prevailing situation in the country to U.N. bodies.

In 1983, she got overturned the verdict on flogging and imprisonment handed to a 13-year-old blind girl, whose pregnancy had been seen as proof that she had had sexual intercourse.

She has received several awards, including a Hilal-i-Imtiaz and a Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2010.

A fierce defender of democracy, she often criticized Pakistan's military and intelligence.

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