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UNITED NATIONS: Condolence messages and tribute continued to pour in from across the world on a second day following the demise of rights activist Asma Jahangir, as United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said her passing away was “echoing within her native Pakistan and across the world”.

“We have lost a human rights giant,” said the UN secretary general on hearing the news of the death of UN’s special rapporteur while Amnesty International in a separate statement termed her demise “a loss not just for Pakistan, or for South Asia, but for the human rights movement globally”.

“She was a tireless advocate for inalienable rights of all people and for equality — whether in her capacity as a Pakistani lawyer in the domestic justice system, as a global civil society activist, or as a Special Rapporteur,” the UN secretary general said in a statement released by his spokesman.

Amnesty International terms it a ‘loss of human rights movement globally’

He added: “Asma was brilliant, deeply principled, courageous and kind. I convey my heartfelt condolences to Asma’s family, friends and colleagues, including in the United Nations and civil society within which she was such a leader.

“Asma will not be forgotten.”

In a separate statement, Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said she was a brave champion of human rights who leaves behind a powerful legacy. “For decades, Asma bravely fought for the most disadvantaged people in Pakistan, often at great personal risk. She championed the cause of women, children, bonded labourers, religious minorities, journalists, the disappeared, and so many others. She confronted injustice wherever she saw it,” Mr Shetty said.

She was a member of Amnesty International Regional Advisory Group for the Asia-Pacific region at the time of her death, says a press release.

‘A life-long endeavour’

Meanwhile, Human Rights Council’s Coordination Committee of Special Procedures expressed its profound sadness and shock over her sudden death and said: “Asma’s contribution to our system and the human rights cause as a whole has been a life-long endeavour.

In a statement issued in Geneva on Monday, the committee said she was a prominent member of the special procedures system. “She will be remembered as an outstanding expert, as a courageous and tireless advocate for all human rights, and as an inspiring colleague. She was committed and passionate in her work, devoting her life to promoting democracy and to advancing women’s rights in not only her own country, but around the world. It was an honour and also a privilege to have known such a great person. We will miss Asma dearly. We extend our sincere condolences to her family and friends.”

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2018