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Pakistanis bid farewell to nation's most prominent activist Asma Jahangir

Pakistanis bid farewell to nation's most prominent activist Asma Jahangir

The tragedy of Asma Jahangir's sudden passing away at only 66 years of age, on February 11, is that she has left the world at a time when it needed her most.

Maulana Haider Farooq Maududi led the funeral prayers.

The National Assembly passed the resolution after a debate, while the Senate adopted it without any debate as Chairman Raza Rabbani announced that the house would hold a condolence reference in memory of Asma Jahangir today (Tuesday) and no other business would be taken up.

In 1987 she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and served at its head until 2011.

She was also an outspoken critic of the powerful military establishment, including during her stint as the first-ever female leader of Pakistan's top bar association. She championed the cause of women, children, bonded labourers, religious minorities, journalists, the disappeared, and so many others.

In a separate statement, Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said she was a fearless champion of human rights who leaves behind a powerful legacy. She was also a vocal opponent of judicial overreach and would often confront the superior judiciary when it would extend its jurisdiction in her opinion. Marvi Sirmed, a senior Pakistani journalist who knew her personally, writes in The Daily Times how as a teenager she was inspired by "Asma ji's perseverance, her clarity of objective, her strength of character...her itch to question the powers of the time, and her passion to fearlessly fight for the oppressed and whatever she considered right, come what may". She thumbed her nose at them by being elected the 13th president of the Supreme Court Bar Association in Islamabad. The NGO's main aims are to spread awareness of Human Rights, collect information on abuses as well as monitoring and defending human rights in the country.

'We have lost a human rights giant, the United Nations chief said in a statement released after Jahangir's death was announced on Sunday.

The Senators said that she always supported democracy and took a tough stance against dictatorship.

Her death sparked an outpouring of tributes from global human rights groups and political leaders, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres - who called her a "human rights giant" - and Nobel prize victor Malala Yousafzai. Pakistan has still not digested the fact that HRCP brings out annual surveys of how the state continues to crush its Hindu and Christian minorities - including the Hindus of Tharparkar who travel to Lahore to describe how Hafiz Saeed persuades them to embrace Islam if they want to benefit from his charity. She faced threats and an assassination attempt for representing blasphemy law victims but never backed down. "For all of us defenders of human rights in Iran, she was a companion in the struggle for a more just, free and equal Iran".

Asma is survived by her husband, Tahir Jahangir, whom she married in 1974, a son and two daughters, and Hina.


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