Dubai: Pakistan's human rights icon and renowned lawyer Asma Jahangir died on Sunday in Lahore.
The cause of her death was not immediately confirmed but multiple reports suggest she died of cardiac arrest after she was rushed to a local hospital. Jahangir was born in Lahore in January, 1952.
Jahangir, 66, was one of the most respected human rights activists in Pakistan and was well known for standing against military dictators in Pakistan.
She was most feared by the politicians as she always challenged them against human rights violations. She was the torch bearer of independent and strong judicial system. She 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 was also active in the 2007 Lawyers’ Movement against then president Pervez Musharraf, for which she was put under house arrest.
She was known for taking up court cases of victimised and marginalised sections of society, as well as speaking against human rights violations.
She became a democracy activist and was jailed in 1983 for participating in the ‘Movement for the Restoration of Democracy’, against military dictator Ziaul Haq’s regime.
She co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and the Women’s Action Forum. She later went on to become the first woman to serve as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. 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 completed her bachelors of arts and law from Lahore and then went on to pursue higher legal studies from Switzerland, Canada and US.
She received the 2014 Right Livelihood Award and the 2010 Freedom Award. 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 for the disenfranchised.
An author and a staunch activist for democracy, Jahangir received several accolades for her work on human rights. Jahangir also remained the special rapporteur on human rights for the United Nations.
Following news of Jahangir's death, messages of grief and condolences were shared on social media as well as by prominent officials, including the president and Supreme Court chief justice.