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Asma Jehangir, human rights lawyer is no more

Renowned senior lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir passed away in Lahore on Sunday, reported DawnNews.  She was 66.   

Jehangir received a bachelor's degree from Kinnaird College and an LLB from Punjab University. She was called to the Lahore High Court in 1980 and to the Supreme Court in 1982. She later went on to become the first woman to serve as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. She became a pro-democracy activist and was jailed in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, which agitated against military dictator Ziaul Haq's regime. She was also active in the 2007 Lawyers' Movement, for which she was put under house arrest. She co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and the Women's Action Forum, in both of which she was an inspiring leader. The Human Rights Commission defended religious minorities and taking on highly charged blasphemy accusations along with "honour" killings -- in which the victims, normally women, are murdered by a relative for bringing shame on the family. There is still terrible violence against women, discrimination against minorities and near-slavery for bonded labourers, Ms Jahangir told AFP during an interview in 2014, but human rights have made greater strides in Pakistan than may be apparent. She secured a many 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 volition, reported the Hindu.

 The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, and other Supreme Court judges expressed deep sorrow and grief on her demise in a statement. "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," the judges of the apex court said.

Human rights activists, politicians and many others took to Twitter to express their grief. Asma Jehangir's death is a loss of a strong voice for the marginalised and oppressed. Despite our differences I always respected her for her fight for human rights and for standing up for her convictions," former cricketer and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan said in a tweet.

British Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie tweeted: "Thinking of Nadeem Aslam’s line: Pakistan produces the most courageous people; but no state should require its citizens to be so brave.  #AsmaJahangir"

Akhtar Mengal, president of the Balochistan National Party, tweeted: "Aasma Jahangir was a woman of extraordinary determination.Her dedication to justice gave many people of Balochistan hope. A woman who fought patriarchy & non-democratic forces was truly what it takes to be an Iron Lady.Thank you Asma Jahangir. Balochistan is forever in your debt."

Source: Iris Knowledge Foundation

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Posted on : Feb 11, 2018