Asma Jahangir passes away; CJP, political leaders, lawyers grieved
LAHORE: Veteran human rights activist and noted lawyer Asma Jahangir passed away due to cardiac arrest in Lahore on Sunday. She was 66.
Asma suffered heart attack today morning and was rushed to Lahore’s Hameed Latif Hospital, where she breathed her last. The leaders of different political parties, human rights organizations, and lawyers’ bars have extended condolences and sympathies to the bereaved families to bear this irreparable loss.
Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, other judges and registrar today expressed deep sorrow and grief over the sad demise of Asma Jahangir, a senior advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan.
In a statement, they extended their heartfelt condolences and sincere sympathies to members of aggrieved family of departed soul. The chief justice and judges praised her services rendered for the cause of independence of judiciary, rule of law and supremacy of Constitution in the country and said that her services would always be remembered in good words in judicial history of Pakistan. “She was an outspoken and courageous lady, and had risen to prominence by sheer dint of hard work, diligence and commitment to the legal profession.”
They prayed to Almighty Allah to shower His blessings on the departed soul and to give patience to the bereaved family members to bear this irreparable loss with equanimity.
Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has expressed grief over death of eminent lawyer, rights activists and a highly pro-democracy dedicated fighter Ms. Asma Jahangir.
In his condolence message, the Chairman said that he was deeply shocked on receiving the news about her sudden death as she was not an ordinary person but her entire life was dedicated to people’s rights, supremacy of democracy and she lived a life of rights defender.
Her death is an irreparable and colossal loss of the entire nation, which would miss her for her dashing role she always played in the court rooms, on rights platforms and for her particular contribution towards creating awareness among the masses about their rights, said the PPP Chairman.
He said that Ms Asma Jehangir will be remembered for ages due to her committed and untiring struggle for democracy, supremacy of Parliament and constitutionalism.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that, “The PPP is in shock on Ms. Jahangir’s sudden death, which it feels is a gap that would never be filled.” Her entire life was like a torch in darkness and she always remained to be a beacon of hope in moments of despair and despondence, he maintained. He said that her services would be written in history with golden words and she will always be remembered in hearts. May the Almighty Allah rest her soul in eternal peace!, he prayed.
She was born on 27 January 1952 in Lahore. She was a human rights lawyer and social activist who co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She is widely known for playing a prominent role in the Lawyers Movement and served as the trustee at the International Crisis Group.
Born and raised in Lahore, Jahangir studied at the Convent of Jesus and Mary before receiving her B.A from Kinnaird and LLB from the Punjab University in 1978. In 1980, she was called to the Lahore High Court and to the Supreme Court in 1982. In 1980s, Jahangir became a democracy activist and was imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq. In 1986, she moved to Geneva, and became the vice-chair of the Defence for Children International and remained until 1988 when she moved back to Pakistan.
In 1987, she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary General until 1993 when she was elevated as commission’s chairperson. She was again put under house arrest in November 2007 after the imposition of emergency. After serving as one of the leaders of the Lawyers Movement, she became Pakistan’s first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. Jehangir has co-chaired South Asia Forum for Human Rights and was the vice president of International Federation for Human Rights.
Jahangir served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion from August 2004 to July 2010, including serving on the U.N. panel for inquiry into Sri Lankan human rights violations and on a fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements. Jahangir is the recipient of several awards including the 2014 Right Livelihood Award (along with Edward Snowden), 2010 Freedom Award, Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2010, Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Ramon Magsaysay Award, 1995 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, and the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights. She was awarded an Officer de la Légion d’honneur by France.