Asma Jahangir: Pakistan human rights champion dies


Amritsar: Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh condoles the demise of leading Pakistan's Human rights icon Asma Jahangir at Lahore today. She was admitted to a private hospital last night over cardiac problem, where she breathed her last.

She was also suffering from cancer and remained under treatment for years. Local TV stations broadcast footage showing public figures and Jehangir's friends sobbing and consoling each other outside her residence as her body was brought home from a hospital.

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.

Jehangir co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and was president of the Supreme Court's Bar Association.

According to her sister, Hina Jilani, the funeral arrangements have yet to be announced. her daughter Munizae Jahangir, In a statement by said that the family waited for relatives to return to their hometown of Lahore.

She is widely known for playing a prominent role in the Lawyers' Movement and served as the trustee at the International Crisis Group.

Jahangir, a Ramon Magsaysay award recipient, fought against the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq and was imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the pro-democracy movement. Pakistan has lost a passionate champion of human rights and a staunch supporter of democracy.

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She refused to leave the country despite the threats, however, and told the British newspaper the Telegraph that she would not follow other activists out of the country.

In 1999, she was approached for legal advice by a woman named Saima Sarwar who had fled an abusive husband and sought a divorce that was opposed by her family. May her soul rest in peace. She defended minority Christians charged with blasphemy, an offense that under Pakistan's controversial law carries the death penalty.

She was also the founding member of Women's Action Forum, Pakistan.

Raza Ahmad Rumi of the Pakistan Daily Times called her a hero.

"I will not leave", she said.

Asma Jahangir lived, practiced till her last breath. "She was on official visit to India and Punjab in the capacity the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of the United Nations Human Rights Council", said Kanwarpal Singh, while expressing grief over her death.

She has also been an outspoken critic of the Pakistan's powerful military establishment, including during her tenure as the first-ever female leader of Pakistan's top bar association.