The death of Pakistan's human rights activist Asma Jahangir is a great loss to the world, the US said today. Asma, 66, Pakistan's human rights icon and staunch critic of the country's powerful army, died of cardiac arrest on Sunday in Lahore. The funeral prayers were offered in Lahore today at the Gaddafi Stadium which was attended by thousands of mourners, including women. Her work in Pakistan, including as a founder and chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, and with the United Nations and groups such as the International Crisis Group and the South Asia Forum for Human Rights, made her a global icon in human rights, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said. We join Pakistan and others around the world in mourning the untimely death of Pakistani human rights and democracy advocate, Asma Jahangir, she said. For years, she courageously defended the rights of those who did not have a voice, and championed the rule of law, democracy, and human rights including freedom of religion or belief, Nauert said. Most recently she served as the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, tirelessly fighting on behalf of the Iranian people as they demanded freedom, dignity, and respect for human rights. As the third UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief, she improved the worlds understanding of the plight of religious minorities worldwide through her in-depth research and sustained engagements and fought for the protection of the persecuted, Nauert said. Her death is a great loss to the world and she will be missed as a champion of her country, its people, and the millions more around the world on whose behalf she spoke, the State Department spokesperson added. Asma has received several awards including the 2014 Right Livelihood Award, 2010 Freedom Award, Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2010 and Sitara-e-Imtiaz. She was also awarded a UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights and an Officer de la Lgion d'honneur by France. She has also been an outspoken critic of the Pakistan's powerful military establishment, including during her tenure as the first-ever female leader of Pakistan's top bar association.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)