Tributes paid to Pakistan human rights campaigner Asma Jahangir who died yesterday

15 February, 2018, 08:40 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Pakistani students light candles to pay tribute to Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jehangir in Karachi on Monday

Noted human rights lawyer and social activist Asma Jahangir's funeral will be held outside Qaddafi Stadium at 02:00pm today.

The prayers were led by Farooq Haider Maududi, son of Abul Ala Maududi, the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

In a programme observing National Women's Day at the Arts Council on Monday, prominent rights activists and the event's organisers dedicated the celebration in Asma's memory. She was the first female leader of Pakistan's Supreme Court bar association. The rights commission that she helped create made its name defending religious minorities and tackling highly charged blasphemy accusations along with cases of "honour" killings or murders of women by relatives for bringing shame on the family.

Asma became a champion democracy activist and was subsequently imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against the military rule of Pakistans longest-serving President Zia-ul Haq.

Even the ones who do not comprehend Pakistan much would understand how risky and deadly it could be to resist military dictatorship and religious extremism in that country. A few days ago she pleaded the case regarding public representatives' disqualification matter before the Supreme Court.

For her work championing minority rights and speaking out against corruption at all levels in Pakistan, Asma Jahangir was targeted by threats on her life by hard lined militants and those within the military establishment. With the voices of intolerance getting louder and louder-causing wars, displacement, inequality, gender discrimination, and meaningless violence-Asma Jahangir's was one that challenged the status quo and exposed it with fearlessness and clarity. She worked extensively in the field of women's rights, protection of religious minorities and in eliminating bonded labour.

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"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 U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement.

"She was a legendary human rights defender: pioneering, determined, calm, courageous - and a lovely human being", the office said in a tweet posted on its official account.

Jahangir was also a vocal opponent of judicial overreach and would often confront the superior judiciary when it would extend its jurisdiction in her opinion.

"In addition to this", he added, "out of respect of Ms Jahangir, the Sindh government has announced a day of mourning".

For her efforts she won many prizes and awards, including the French Legion d'Honneur and the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights.

Asma's own involvement in politics had its roots in her youth, when her father became a vociferous critic of the military dictatorship in the 1960s, leading to periods of imprisonment and house arrest, against which Asma and Hina protested.

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