Fearless voice for voiceless silences today: PM Abbasi on Asma Jahangir's demise

Marie Harrington
February 12, 2018

Prominent Pakistani human rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir has died at the age of 66.

Born on January 27, 1952, Jehangir had a prominent career both as a lawyer and rights activist. While she received several national awards, including the Sitara-I-Imtiaz in 1995, Jahangir was again put under house arrest in November 2007 after President Pervez Musharraf imposed Emergency. Her barbed, witty comments in hundreds of news conferences, TV interviews and more recent tweets delighted liberal fans and infuriated conservative critics.

The lawyer who is revered in sections of Pakistani society as the only bravest woman of her caliber who stood strong against alleged wrongdoings on state institutions part, leaders and political parties.

Born in 1952, Jahangir was renowned for defending the rights of persecuted minorities in Pakistan.

In 1987 she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary General until 1993 when she was elevated as commission's chairperson.

A champion of human rights, Jehangir was unafraid to speak loudly against those attacking minority religions and women.

Zohra Yousuf, a former chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said she lost a "great friend and great warrior of human rights".

"It is also an award for the voiceless people and all others who have been victims of human rights abuses".

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She asked whether the two Bangladeshis were more important than the people living in Pakistan.

Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize victor Malala Yousafzai said on Twitter she was "heartbroken" at the death of the "savior of democracy and human rights", especially as the pair had just met in Britain a week ago. She was fully a woman in her courage and steadfastedness.

In recent years, she was outspoken over the misuse of blasphemy laws that carry the death sentence.

In 1983, she was put under house arrest and later imprisoned when she campaigned for women's rights and democracy during the rule of Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.

According to initial reports, Jahangir was shifted to a hospital after she complained of chest pain where she breathed her last. She gained worldwide acclaim for being the voice of conscience in a country where liberal, secular voices have been continuously under threat.

"The best tribute to her", Yousafzai tweeted, "is to continue her fight for human rights and democracy".

She received several awards, both national and global, for her incalculable efforts for human rights everywhere.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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