AN advocate of peace between Pakistan and India, champion of human rights and a secular soul, Iqbal Haider died at the time when the country badly needed more people like him to fight against the growing wave of religious extremism and fundamentalism in the country.
In this backdrop paying tribute to his great services and commitment and calling his departure a great loss is not an ordinary condolence message.
Iqbal Haider, born in Agra, the city of my favourite poet Nazeer Akbarabadi, migrated to Pakistan and became a patriot citizen of a new soil and an icon of humanity and secularism till his last breath.
Although he never missed an opportunity to plead the case of the downtrodden and marginalised people of Pakistan, in the last years of his life he was more worried about fundamentalism and ethnic terrorism, he showed his worries talking to everyone to fight a united war against both against the neocons and the Taliban.
He was deeply disturbed by the growing influence of fundamentalism in Pakistan and elsewhere. In his pursuit for a progressive and secular Pakistan, he was always bold enough to criticise the Taliban and other extremist forces.
Only six months ago he had launched the Forum for Secular Pakistan and called likeminded friends to develop an assertive strategy to counter extremism.
During all his high - profile positions as federal minister, attorney - general and chairman of various committees and civil society forums, he was a man of integrity and uprightness.
I still remember his loud and frank voice and restlessness in his action to do more and more to improve the situation of human rights in Pakistan. He never missed an opportunity to advocate the case of the weak and the vulnerable.
Although his departure is a painful reality, the most graceful tribute to him would be to continue his mission he fought for till his last breath. That mission was a prosperous and peaceful region, rule of law and constitutionalism in Pakistan, respect of human rights, girls’ education and a Pakistan free of ethnic and sectarian terrorism, fundamentalism and Talibanisation.
We as his friends and comrades must resolve to continue his struggle.
ZULFIQAR HALEPOTO Secretary, Pakistan Peace Coalition Hyderabad