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Remembering Asma Jahangir, the warrior
15 February 2018, 05:15 | Bernice Figueroa
Pakistan's 'fearless' rights champion dies at 66
Thousands of men and women attended the funeral prayers for Asma Jahangir at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Tuesday, bidding farewell to the diminutive rights activist described by some as Pakistan's "moral compass".
On Sunday 11 February 2018, AsmaJahangir, a leading figure in human rights and a defender of democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan, passed away in Lahore aged 66.
Asma Jahangir had won many national as well as worldwide awards including Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 1995, Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2010, and various others.
She was also an outspoken critic of the powerful military establishment, including during her stint as the first-ever female leader of Pakistan's top bar association. She previously served as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (2004 to 2010) and Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions (1998 to 2004).
Asma's sudden death is a loss not just for Pakistan, or for South Asia, but for the human rights movement globally.
Chief Minister's Special Assistant on Women Development Iram Khalid highlighted Asma's great efforts in making humans, including women, more empowered based on the principle of equality.
This is what Asma Jahangir has been rewarded with in her passing, an endless trail of admirers and followers who will carry the torch she has so tenaciously held on to.
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. Confident that significant sections of Pakistan's society do not support cross-border terrorism, she advocated for intensified economic, cultural and sporting ties between the two countries to neutralize the militarization of the mindsets fomented by the ruling classes.
She paid tribute to Asma as a beacon of hope for the new generation.
A champion of human rights, Jahangir was unafraid to speak loudly against those attacking minority religions and women.
"I remember her profound articulations on several occasions at the United Nations fora about the human rights violations and persecutions against religious minorities in different parts of the world, especially misuse of the blasphemy law in Pakistan", he said.
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".
At the time of her death she was UN Special Rapporteur of Human Rights in Iran.
"In her teenage years, she came out on the roads against black laws and became an icon of hope", she said. She pleaded the cause of the downtrodden people. She was in Congo and East Timor for the United Nations when atrocities there were directed mainly on women.
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