Nation mourns death of leading human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir

Nation mourns death of leading human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir

Asma Jehangir, one of Pakistan's most prominent right activists and lawyers, has died at the age of 66.

Born on January 27, 1952, Jehangir had a prominent career both as a lawyer and rights activist. In 2007, she was put under house arrest by the military regime of Pervez Musharraf, another general, for her active role in Lawyers Movement for the restoration of deposed judges. Her daughter Muneezay Jahangir is a journalist and TV anchorperson. She was one of the few Pakistani who spoke against the state atrocities against the Baloch people and fought for their rights.

In 2014 Asma Jahangir received France's highest civilian award and Sweden's Right Livelihood Award, for her decades of rights work.

Jahangir remained the head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Supreme Court Bar Association.

"It is a tribute to a large number of Pakistanis who have worked relentlessly for better human rights in the country", she said.

And Adil Najam, the Dean of the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University tweeted she "was not just the voice of our collective conscience". At the time of her death she had been working as the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran.


In an interview with DW following her win, Jagangir described the Swedish award as recognition of all rights activists in Pakistan who work under very hard circumstances.

Jahangir was also a vocal opponent of judicial overreach and would often confront the superior judiciary when it would extend its jurisdiction in her opinion. She remained house arrest in 2007 for 9- days including other lawyers' movement leadership. She defended minority Christians charged with blasphemy, an offense that under Pakistan's controversial law carries the death penalty.

According to initial reports, Jahangir was shifted to a hospital after she complained of chest pain where she breathed her last. She served on several missions for the United Nations and won numerous worldwide awards.

Her first foray into politics was in 1969, when she participated in a women's march to the residence of the governor of Punjab and clashed with the police.

A fierce defender of democracy, she often criticized Pakistan's military and intelligence.

She received several awards, both national and worldwide, for her incalculable efforts for human rights everywhere. She was most unwanted person by establishment of Pakistan during all marial Laws but she never compromised or bowed down against dictatorial rules.

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