Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir dies at 66


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday paid tribute to human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir on her death for her services to democracy.

Farooq Haider Maududi, the son of Jamaat-i-Islami founder and prominent Islamic scholar Abul Ala Maududi, led the funeral prayer.

After serving as one of the leaders of the Lawyers' Movement, she became the first woman to serve as President of Pakistan's Supreme Court Bar Association.

They said she had secured a number of victories during her life, from winning freedom for bonded labourers from their "owners" through pioneering litigation to a landmark court case that allowed women to marry of their own free will.

Born in Lahore, in Punjab province, Asma was the daughter of Malik Ghulam Jilani, a civil servant who upon retirement became a politician, and his wife, Sabiha.

Jahangir faced death threats for her criticism of Pakistan's military, intelligence and armed groups, including a plot by the country's Inter-Services Intelligence. She has co-chaired South Asia Forum for Human Rights and was the vice president of International Federation for Human Rights. Although she was not given permission to pursue her mandate within the country, she collected evidence of human rights violations and documented these for her submission to the General Assembly.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan that she co-founded has defended religious minorities in blasphemy cases as well as taken on cases of honour killings.

According to the family sources, Asma was talking on phone after having lunch at her home when the cell phone fell from her hands.

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Her work was not just confined to Pakistan, but also overseas.

Sindh Human Rights Commission Chairperson Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi recalled the challenges of the structural bars made through the Hudood Ordinance in Zia's era that went against the principles of justice and discriminated on the basis of law and perception that women were inferior to men.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said her passing away was �??echoing within her native Pakistan and across the world. She was again put under house arrest in November 2007 after the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan.

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.

Mrs. Jahangir was highly regarded for her longstanding dedication to human rights and women's rights throughout her life.

Through the resolution, the National Assembly members recognised Ms Jahangir's services "for rule of law, democracy and constitutionalism, besides her courageous struggle against oppression and rights abuses".

"Her sudden death is a major blow for the fight to enable the poorest sectors of the Pakistani population to fully enjoy these fundamental rights, which the powerful security forces and their religious supporters seek to deny the people".