Prominent human rights activist Asma Jahangir passes away in Lahore

Asma Jahangir

Prominent human rights activist Asma Jahangir passes away in Lahore

Her sudden death saddened the entire nation as people from all social strata, including politicians, lawyers, judges, civil rights campaigners, expressed their condolences.

The family told the DawnNews that she suffered cardiac arrest and was shifted to a hospital, where she passed away.

To be a successful activist lawyer, she once noted, one must "have an eye for what's hot, the right case, the right bench".

A female member of Pakistan's National Assembly, Nafisa Shah, called her the "founder of Pakistan's homegrown human rights movement, a bold, fearless voice of the downtrodden &dispossessed". She had also been Supreme Court Bar Association president. There she met many women who had been arrested under the new laws, and, after coming out, took up their cases.

As one Twitter user called her the only "man" in Pakistan, author Bina Shah contested it, saying: "The only man?"

In 1993, Jahangir defended Salamat Masih, a 14-year-old Christian boy accused under blasphemy laws of scribbling offensive words on a mosque.

Jahangir is also a recipient of the 2010 Freedom Award and 2014 Right Livelihood Award.

"She has fought against the military dictators and also for the rights of downtrodden individuals".

As this newspaper asked her whether she would face any difficulty in her country after receiving an award linked with the Liberation War, she answered with deep conviction. Several years ago, she briefly sent her family out of the country following threats from militant groups. Police surrounded her office at the human rights commission, arrested her with other activists, and hustled them into vans as a crowd watched.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif- said: " Democracy, human rights and resistance against oppression lost a great soldier- Asma Jehangir. Pakistan has lost a passionate champion of human rights and a staunch supporter of democracy. She was unmatched and unparalleled. Huge loss for us, for #Pakistan.

"What a tragic day for Pakistan today".

Journalist Naila Inayat, termed her death "the end to an era" while Mehreen Zahra-Malik, another journalist, tweeted: "A male friend once asked: why is Asma Jahangir always so angry?"

Jehangir is survived by her businessman husband, Tahir Jehangir, a son and two daughters. "Doctors tried to save her life but couldn't", he added. We shall B announcing date of funeral soon.

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