Asma Jehangir, Leading Pakistani Rights Activist, Dies at 66

Asma Jehangir, Leading Pakistani Rights Activist, Dies at 66

Asma Jehangir, Leading Pakistani Rights Activist, Dies at 66

Leading Pakistani human rights advocate Asma Jahangir has died, her family said Sunday, in a major blow to the country's embattled rights community.

Born on January 27, 1952, Jehangir had a prominent career both as a lawyer and rights activist.

The nation has been left shocked by her death.

She was again put under house arrest in November 2007 after the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan. Her daughter Munizae is a TV anchor.

The lawyer who is revered in sections of Pakistani society as the only bravest woman of her caliber who stood strong against alleged wrongdoings on state institutions part, leaders and political parties.

The representative of Baloch Republican Party to the UNHRC, Abdul Nawaz Bugti said that Asma Jahangir was a courageous voice of the oppressed people, including the Baloch who stood for their rights and spoke truth to the power.

The iconic lawyer had served as the head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). Pakistan has lost a passionate champion of human rights and a staunch supporter of democracy.

The firebrand human rights activist graduated from Kinnaird College and later pursued an LLB from Punjab University.

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In 1999, she was approached for legal advice by a woman named Saima Sarwar who had fled an abusive husband and sought a divorce that was opposed by her family.

Jahangir was also a vocal opponent of judicial overreach and would often confront the superior judiciary when it would extend its jurisdiction in her opinion.

She asked whether the two Bangladeshis were more important than the people living in Pakistan.

She was also the founding member of Women's Action Forum, Pakistan.

A decade later, long after democratic rule was restored, she was still denouncing the power of Pakistan's military and intelligence establishments and the façade of civilian control. "I feel very proud that he went to jail because he did the right thing", she told The Daily Star in an interview after receiving the award.

The cause of her death has not been confirmed yet, but according to media reports, it was due to cardiac arrest. Condolences poured in after her demise with people paying tribute to her services for democracy and efforts in the judiciary movement.

In the early '80s, she was imprisoned for partaking in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy during the military regime of Zia ul Haq. In 2005, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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