The Ambassador of France and Mrs. Philippe Thiébaud hosted a reception to celebrate the conferment of the distinction ‘Officier de la Légion d’Honneur’ upon Asma Jahangir. The Legion of Honour is the highest French award which was created by Napoleon, Emperor of France, in 1802.
Ambassador Thiébaud said: “If any lady in Pakistan deserves this award it is Asma Jahangir for her actions in promoting rule of law, protection of rights and human rights in general.”
He recognised her involvement in supporting the rule of law in this country for years and said that he was proud that the last official function to be organised at the Embassy of France was to recognise in Asma a great citizen of Pakistan and a great citizen of the world
Asma Jahangir spoke briefly about her career defending the human and women rights, rights of religious minorities and children in Pakistan.
She said: “People attending the reception, like Afrasiab Khattak, Tahira Abdullah, Nasreen Azhar and Mustansar Hussain Tarar, are part of my family. We take inspiration from General Talat Masood and turn to him for support when we are in trouble.”
She said: “People who have supported me have not done so to support an individual, they have supported an idea.”
Speaking of protection and indignation, she said: “There are two types of indignation. There is indignation at the hurt and indignity of others and there is the sort of indignation that is happening outside the Parliament where people want something for themselves. When we talk about protection, in our country sometimes even the prime minister needs protection and we speak up then not to protect a prime minister but because our country needs stability and a system.”
Expressing her delight at having received the award, she said: “One of the reasons I am pleased when I am awarded something is because our country is looked at in another perspective – we have our difficulties and human rights problems – but we have also fought for our liberation and will continue to do so.”
Thanking the French Ambassador, Asma added: “I am overawed and hope I can return this honour by serving the people of Pakistan and the world.”
Hosted in the Ambassador’s residence, the reception marks the end of Philippe Thiébaud’s tenure in Pakistan and his return to Paris.
Published in Dawn, October 5th , 2014