Pak activist and renowned lawyer Asma Jahangir dies of cardiac arrest

Aaron Brown
February 12, 2018

Born in 1952, in Lahore, she completed her bachelor's degree from Punjab University and went to the U.S., Canada and Switzerland to pursue her higher legal study.

She was also known as the voice of marginalised sections of the Pakistani society.

In her career, Ms Jahangir was a staunch defender of human rights and women's rights, and a pro-democracy activist, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Her daughter Muneezay Jehangir is a TV anchor.

The rights commission which she helped create made its name defending religious minorities and tackling highly charged blasphemy accusations along with cases of "honour" killings - in which victims, normally women, are murdered by a relative for bringing shame on the family.

Journalist Naila Inayat, termed her death "the end to an era" while Mehreen Zahra-Malik, another journalist, tweeted: "A male friend once asked: why is Asma Jahangir always so angry?" She was former president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).

Asma, who remained undaunted in the face of extreme pressure and opposition, will be remembered as a champion for the disenfranchised and for her services towards building a democratic and more inclusive Pakistan, writes Dawn.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, other judges and registrar of the Supreme Court have expressed deep sorrow and grief on the sad demise of Asma Jahangir, Senior Advocate Supreme Court.

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An outspoken critic of Pakistan's powerful military establishment, she was placed under house arrest in 1983 and later jailed for campaigning for the restoration of democracy.

One widely shared tweet came from Malala Yousafzai, 20, the Pakistani activist for girls' education who was almost assassinated by Taliban militants as a teenager. On its website, the worldwide rights body praised her for her "contribution to the cause of human rights" for which she received multiple awards both nationally and internationally.

Her daughter Munizae Jahangir confirmed the news of her death on the microblogging site.

Jahangir served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion from August 2004 to July 2010, including serving on the U.N. panel for inquiry into Sri Lankan human rights violations and on a fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements.

There is still awful violence against women, discrimination against minorities and near-slavery for bonded labourers, Jahangir told AFP during an interview in 2014, but human rights have made greater strides in Pakistan than may be apparent.

"She was courageous and dedicated rights and social activist and above all the voice of the voiceless", said he.

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