Leading human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir passes away in Lahore

Published February 11, 2018
Lawyer and Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Asma Jahangir. —Photo: Sara Faruqi/File
Lawyer and Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Asma Jahangir. —Photo: Sara Faruqi/File

Renowned senior lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir passed away in Lahore on Sunday, DawnNews reported.

She is survived by a son and two daughters.

People gather at Asma Jahangir's residence, following her death, in Lahore. ─ AP
People gather at Asma Jahangir's residence, following her death, in Lahore. ─ AP

The family told DawnNews that Jahangir had suffered from a cardiac arrest and was subsequently shifted to a hospital, where she breathed her last. She was 66.

Details regarding her funeral have not been made public as yet.

Known for her outspoken nature and unrelenting pursuit for human rights — as well as for remaining undaunted in the face of extreme pressure and opposition — Jahangir will be remembered as a champion of the disenfranchised and for her services towards building a democratic and more inclusive Pakistan.

A towering figure

Jahangir was born in Lahore in January 1952.

She received a bachelor's degree from Kinnaird College and an LLB from Punjab University. She was called to the Lahore High Court in 1980 and to the Supreme Court in 1982. She later went on to become the first woman to serve as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

She became a pro-democracy activist and was jailed in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, which agitated against military dictator Ziaul Haq's regime.

She was also active in the 2007 Lawyers' Movement, for which she was put under house arrest.

She co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and the Women's Action Forum.

She received several awards, including a Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2010 and a Sitara-i-Imtiaz. She was also awarded a Unesco/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights and an Officier de la Légion d'honneur by France.

She also received the 2014 Right Livelihood Award and the 2010 Freedom Award from the International Rescue Committee.

Nation in shock

The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, and other Supreme Court judges expressed deep sorrow and grief on her demise in a statement.

They extended their heartfelt condolences and sincere sympathies to members of the grieved family while praising her services for the independence of the judiciary, rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution.

"She was an outspoken and courageous lady, and had risen to prominence by sheer dint of hard work, diligence and commitment to the legal profession," the judges of the apex court said.

President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also expressed their sorrow over Jahangir's demise, Radio Pakistan reported.

The president, in his condolence message, said Jahangir had played an "unforgettable role" for the supremacy of law, democracy and human rights.

PM Abbasi likewise lauded Jahangir for her "immense contribution towards upholding rule of law, democracy and safeguarding human rights."

He termed her demise as a great loss for legal fraternity.

Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said Jahangir's struggle is a bright chapter in the constitutional, legal, and democratic history of Pakistan.

She said that the entire Pakistan is praying peace for Asma Jahangir's soul.

Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, Deputy Chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah also expressed grief over the Jahangir's passing.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Bar Council announced three days of mourning across the country from tomorrow.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has also announced to observe a day of mourning across the province.

Moreover, Pakistan People's Party has suspended activities for one day to mourn the death of Asma Jehangir.

Condolences and tributes also poured in on Twitter as Pakistanis reacted to the shock of Jahangir's sudden demise.

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