Pakistanis Bid Farewell To 'Fearless' Rights Activist Jehangir

Pakistan has bid farewell to one of the country's most prominent human rights activists, who died this week of a heart attack in the eastern city of Lahore.

Born in January 1952 in Lahore, she received a bachelors degree from Kinnaird College and an LLB from Punjab University. She helped set up the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in 1987, and served as its Secretary General until 1993.

They said she had secured a number of victories during her life, from winning freedom for bonded labourers from their "owners" through pioneering litigation to a landmark court case that allowed women to marry of their own free will.

In a separate statement, Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said she was a courageous champion of human rights who leaves behind a powerful legacy. "Asma will not be forgotten".

She was highly respected and decorated activist in Pakistan. In 2016 she was appointed United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in Iran.

Newspaper front pages have been dominated by accolades to "Asma the fearless", while social media has seen a tsunami of acclamations, with many questioning what Pakistan will do without her. Her passing has brought a dark day on human rights activism and UNPO mourns her loss greatly.

She has also been an outspoken critic of the Pakistans powerful military establishment, including during her tenure as the first-ever female leader of Pakistans top bar association. She defended minority Christians charged with blasphemy, an offense that under Pakistan's controversial law carries the death penalty. She was arrested for the first time.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) frequently pointed to Jahangir's work in its calls for global support against the Iranian regime's human rights violations.

Support from Amnesty International's members gave her strength during that hard time. Several years ago, she briefly sent her family out of the country following threats from militant groups. Work remained suspended at the high court and its subordinate courts, as the legal fraternity remembered Asma's services.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashir and other noted lawyers and dignitaries have called for a state funeral in remembrance of her services.

"Pakistan has lost a passionate champion of human rights and a staunch supporter of democracy".

"No one can replace Asma, ..." Advancement of human rights and prospects of peace between India and Pakistan are integrally interdependent.

Activist Marvi Sarmad tweeted: "Today it's not only Pakistan who will cry". Two years ago, Asma was on the stage in Lahore with Romila Thapar during the Lahore Literary Festival discussing the upsurge of religion and the resultant injustice in South Asia. Asma stood shoulder to shoulder with us in our opposition to the draconian cyber crime bill, and having her as an ally lifted our spirits and bolstered our cause. Her other daughter, Sulema, lives in London.