Respected for her unabashed criticism of both Pakistan as well as India, Asma led several campaigns that sought to end the oppression of women, children and the downtrodden.
Asma Jahangir, a prominent lawyer and Pakistan’s renowned human rights activist, passed away after suffering a stroke on Sunday. She was 66 years old. The news of her death was confirmed by her daughter on Twitter. Known for her outspoken nature, Asma was the first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. Asma’s daughter Munizae Jahangir said in a tweet, “I am devastated at the loss of my mother Asma Jahangir. We shall be announcing the date of funeral soon. We are waiting for our relatives to return to Lahore.” Asma’s funeral will be held on February 13, as per a Geo News report. Condolences and tributes poured in from people from her family, lawyers, celebrities, people from film fraternity and media on Asma’s death. Respected for her unabashed criticism of both Pakistan as well as India, Asma led several campaigns that sought to end the oppression of women, children and the downtrodden.
Recognised as a champion of human rights, Asma also had a meeting with Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in her capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights. She was in India to work on rights issues, including those of Indian Muslims. Asma was also clear in her views on the Kashmir and Balochistan disputes, advocating for human rights on both spectrums. While she was scathing in her critique of Pakistan over human rights violations, she was also equally vocal about the demands for peace with India.
Here is what Pakistani media is saying on Asma Jahangir:
• Pakistan’s prominent news website Dawn, in its editorial, ‘Asma the fearless’, has called her a citizen that all of Pakistan could be proud of. The article said, “Principled and courageous, Asma’s willingness and determination to confront evil, defend the vulnerable, and insist on Pakistan living up to the ideals of its democratic, constitutional and secular foundations made her truly iconic.”
• The Express Tribune highlighted Asma’s career as a lawyer. Advocate Chaudhry Akhtar Ali in an article titiled, ‘Heart of gold: The Asma Jahangir few knew’ was quoted as saying, “She contested almost half of her cases without charging a single penny, but very few know this aspect of her career because she never wanted to publicise her efforts for needy and deserving clients.”
• The Express Tribune also mentioned the cases that she could not argue. The daily reported, “Asma had agreed to contest contempt case against Minister of State Talal Chaudhry, which has been fixed for next week. She was discussing the case with senior lawyer Azam Nazeer Tarar when she dropped her cell phone. Tarar wasn’t sure what happened and tried to call her back, with no success.”
• Following the tragic news of Asma’s demise, the lawyers’ representative bodies in Pakistan are observing a day of mourning today. As per the report by Pakistan’s Geo Tv, in remembrance of the services rendered by Jahangir, who also served as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, mourning today has been announced. Lawyers throughout Punjab and Balochistan will not be appearing in courts today. The Lahore High Court Bar is also in mourning.
• Meanwhile, Ary News has termed Asma Jahangir’s death as an ‘End of a valiant human rights fighter’. In another article, Ary News reported that she was among the rare personalities participated in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) during Ziaul Haq’s dictatorial regime and sent to Jail for her activism in 1983. She had always been a very vocal critic of the human rights violations in the country, besides widely popular for taking up court cases of marginalized segments of the society, the report said.