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Rights activist Asma Jahangir passes away
By Tariq Butt / Agencies February 12, 2018
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LAHORE: Celebrated human rights activist and senior lawyer Asma Jahangir, 66 passed away in Lahore on Sunday.

News of Asma’s sudden death shook political, social and media circles in Pakistan, as well as government ranks.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan and others offered condolences.

Asma suffered a heart attack late on Saturday night and was rushed to hospital where she died early on Sunday, her daughter Muneeze said.

“Unfortunately we have lost her,” according to Asma’s sisiter Hina Jilani, also a prominent rights activist and lawyer.

Asma Jehangir, the former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), was a great lover of democracy and was known for her frank views on the judiciary and political issues. She was always opposed to the role of the Pakistan army in politics.

Born on Jan. 27 in 1952, Asma Jehangir had a prominent career both as a lawyer and rights activist.

Asma was the world renowned human rights activists and had headed the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She was a UN4 rapporteur on human right and extrajudicial killings.

She was on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential women.

She earned many awards from different world organisations.

Friends, relatives, activists and journalists thronged to her residence in Lahore to express their grief. Local TV stations broadcast footage showing public figures and Asma’s friends sobbing and consoling each other outside her residence as her body was brought home from hospital.

Asma’s supporters and former opponents alike took to social media to offer their condolences and express shock at news of her death.

“Asma Jahangir was the bravest human being I ever knew. Without her the world is less,” wrote prominent Pakistani lawyer Salman Akram Raja.

“I and many others didn’t agree with some of her views. But she was a titan. And one of the brightest and bravest ever produced by this country,” wrote journalist Wajahat Khan on Twitter.

Zohra Yousuf, a former chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said she lost a “great friend and great warrior of human rights.” “No one can replace Asma, ... She was unmatched and unparalleled, we suffered a great loss today,” Yousuf said.

Activist Marvi Sarmad tweeted: “Today it’s not only Pakistan who will cry. The entire South Asia shall mourn Asma Jehangir.”

“’Speaking truth to power,’ a phrase we often use, Asma Jehangir lived, practiced till her last breath,” said another activist, Raza Ahmed Rumi.

Asma is survived by her businessman husband, Tahir Jehangir, a son and two daughters. Her other daughter, Salima, lives in London. The funeral would take place on Tuesday after Salima’s return to Pakistan, the family announced.

Asma played a leading role in the restoration of judges, who were deposed by the then military ruler, Pervez Musharraf.

She always stood for the rights of the women and the downtrodden. She would be seen in all kinds of protests, which were held for upholding human rights.

Asma always held hard-hitting views on all issues, which were not liked by many. Only last night, she appeared in a Geo current affairs programme. She also wrote several books.

A fierce defender of democracy, she often criticised Pakistan’s military and intelligence. She defended minority Christians charged with blasphemy, an offense that under Pakistan’s controversial law carries the death penalty.

A champion of human rights, Asma was unafraid to speak loudly against those attacking minority religions and women. Several years ago, she briefly sent her family out of the country following threats from militant groups.

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