Pakistani rights activist Asma Jahangir dies

Feb 12, 2018, 00:22
Pakistani rights activist Asma Jahangir dies

Asma Jehangir, one of Pakistan's most prominent right activists and lawyers, died on Sunday of a heart attack in the eastern city of Lahore at the age of 66, her daughter said.

She reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to hospital, where she later died. "She fearlessly stood up to dictators, thugs, misogynists".

To be a successful activist lawyer, she once noted, one must "have an eye for what's hot, the right case, the right bench". "The best tribute to her is to continue her fight for human rights and democracy".

Her family was threatened and her driver was beaten up in 1995 for her daring to defend a 14-year-old Salamat Masih who on the accusation of blasphemy.

Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif spoke about Asma's work for women and stance against dictators, saying it would be hard to fill the void left by her death.

"She was the courageous rights activist who inspired many in the country and overseas".

In Pakistan, she was awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz and the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, the second and third highest civilian honours.

Mourners gather outside the home of human rights activist Asma Jahangir in Lahore
Mourners gather outside the home of human rights activist Asma Jahangir in Lahore

The people of South Asia, as well as followers of her work world-over, are mourning the sudden death of Jahangir who was recognised for her activism, particularly surrounding human rights, women's rights, and minorities rights in Pakistan. She was also appointed as United Nations rapporteur in the region during the 1990s.

She was also been an outspoken critic of the country's powerful military establishment, including during her stint as the first-ever female leader of Pakistan's top bar association. Legal associations across Pakistan announced three days of mourning.

NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi have condoled the sad demise of prominent lawyer and renowned human rights icon Asma Jahangir.

One widely shared tweet came from Malala Yousafzai, 20, the Pakistani activist for girls' education who was almost assassinated by Taliban militants as a teenager.

Jahangir was born on January 27, 1952 in Lahore.

It was the first open denunciation of attempts by General Ziaul Haq's military regime to mix religion and law - and it made WAF and Asma Jahangir the most recognised faces of the movement for women's rights in Pakistan. She won scores of worldwide awards.

Jehangir is survived by her businessman husband, Tahir Jehangir, a son and two daughters.

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