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Pakistani rights, democracy activist Asma Jahangir dead

IANS  |  Lahore 

Doughty Pakistani human rights activist Jahangir, who fought her battle on the streets as well in courts, opposed military strongmen and steadfastly championed the rights of women, minorities and LGBTs, passed away here on Sunday. She was 66.

According to Geo TV, Jahangir, the first woman of the Supreme Court Bar Association, was shifted to a hospital on Saturday night after suffering cardiac arrest. She died while undergoing treatment.

While condolences poured in from all sections, there was a section on people who condemned her even after she passed away.

Born on January 27, 1952 to a progressive family in Lahore, Jahangir's path seemed set out with her father Malik Ghulam Jilani, a bureaucrat-turned-politician, opposing corruption at the fag end of Ayub Khan's rule and the brutal crackdown in then East under Yahya Khan following the 1970 election.

After her graduation from the prestigious and from the University in 1978, she hit the headlines when she enthusiastically jumped into the (MRD) against the Zia ul-Haq dictatorship and was jailed.

In 1987, she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of and became its until 1993 when she was elevated as its She represented several clients who were denied their fundamental rights and defended cases of minorities, women and children in prisons.

A mother of one son and two daughters, Jahangir was also the of South Asians for Human Rights. She was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions and later as the UN Rapporteur of Freedom of Religion or Belief.

She often had a tempestuous relation with the Pakistani state. While she received several national awards, including the Sitara-I-Imtiaz in 1995, Jahangir was again put under house arrest in November 2007 after imposed Emergency.

She penned two books -- "Divine Sanction? The Hadood Ordinance" (1988) and "Children of a Lesser God: Child Prisoners of Pakistan" (1992).

In recognition of her services in the field of human rights, Jahangir was awarded in 1992, and in 1995.

led the nation in paying tributes, terming her demise a great loss for the legal fraternity while Mamnoon Hussain, along with other politicians, lawyers and journalists also expressed grief.

tweeted: "Pakistan has lost a passionate champion of human rights and a staunch supporter of democracy..."

Editor called her a "hero".

"'Speaking truth to power' a phrase, we often use. Jahangir lived, practiced till her last breath. Questioned mullahs, military, judges, politicians... defended downtrodden. Faced threats and attacks. Was never afraid. What a hero," he tweeted.

Naila Inayat, termed her death "the end to an era" while Mehreen Zahra-Malik, another journalist, tweeted: "A male friend once asked: why is Jahangir always so angry? What disturbed him perhaps was why she always spoke up and appeared utterly unafraid in this world dominated by masculinity's apoplectic id. For me, this is what was: she was brave enough to be angry."

As one user called her the only "man" in Pakistan, contested it, saying: "The only man? She was fully a woman in her courage and steadfastedness. A lioness. You don't get to claim her for your own gender."

Ziauddin Yousafzai -- the father of Malala, Pakistani activist and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate -- said Jahangir deserves a state funeral while Indian called it the loss of the whole subcontinent.

However, there were some who termed her a hypocrite, a traitor - posting a picture of her receiving an award from Sheikh - and even an "Indian agent".



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, February 11 2018. 18:44 IST