An era of struggle against tyranny and injustice came to an end as renowned senior lawyer and human rights icon Asma Jahangir passed away in Lahore on Sunday. She is survived by a son and two daughters.
The family said that Jahangir had suffered from a cardiac arrest and was subsequently shifted to a hospital, where she breathed her last. She was 66.
Family sources have confirmed that her last rites will be performed in Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore at 2pm on February 13, as they await the return of Jahangir’s daughter.
Known for her outspoken nature and unrelenting pursuit for human rights — as well as for remaining undaunted in the face of extreme pressure and opposition — Jahangir will be remembered as a champion of the disenfranchised and for her services towards building a democratic and more inclusive Pakistan.
Jahangir was born in Lahore in January 1952.
She 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 was also the United Nations Rapporteur for Human Rights.
Jahangir became a democracy activist and was imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against the military regime of General Ziaul Haq.
In 1986, she moved to Geneva, and became the vice-chair of the Defence for Children International and served in the position till 1988 when she moved back to Pakistan. In 1987 she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
She co-chaired the South Asia Forum for Human Rights and was the vice president of International Federation for Human Rights.
From 1998-200 Jahangir served as the special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions and was the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of the UN Commission on Human Rights since 2004.
In 2007, she was put under house arrest after the imposition of martial law following the lawyers’ movement.
She received several awards, including a Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2010 and a Sitara-i-Imtiaz. She was also awarded a Unesco/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights and an Officier de la Légion d’honneur by France.
She also received the 2014 Right Livelihood Award and the 2010 Freedom Award from the International Rescue Committee.
Jahangir was also an executive member at the International Crisis Group and chief economist advisory council member of World Bank since 2001.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also expressed their sorrow over Jahangir’s demise.
The president, in his condolence message, said Jahangir had played an “unforgettable role” for the supremacy of law, democracy and human rights.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi likewise lauded Jahangir for her “immense contribution towards upholding rule of law, democracy and safeguarding human rights.”
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.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Bar Council announced three days of mourning across the country from tomorrow.