Women rights activists pay tribute to Asma Jahangir

Feb 15, 2018, 05:19
Women rights activists pay tribute to Asma Jahangir

Jahangir also helped establish the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, which defends religious minorities and takes on highly charged blasphemy accusations along with "honor" killings - in which the victims, normally women, are murdered by a relative for bringing shame on the family.

Jamat e Islami (JI) founder Abul A'la Maududi's son, Syed Haider Farooq Maududi, led the funeral prayers of the deceased activist at LCC Ground near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Jahangir is to be buried at a more private ceremony later Tuesday.

In 1987 she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary General until 1993 when she was elevated as the commission's chairperson, reports The News International.

She was on Time magazine's list of 100 most influential women. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the country had lost a courageous and disciplined person who fought fearlessly for human rights. She was a staunch critic of Zia ul Haq's military rule and his Islamisation of the Pakistani state apparatus. There was a spontaneous outpouring of grief in Pakistan, even from those who didn't like her challenge to an increasingly fundamentalist state that deprived minorities and women of their rights in the name of religion.

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In 1983, as part of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, Asma, who had recently been called to the supreme high court, was among members of the Lahore Punjab Women Lawyers' Association who publicly protested against the proposed law of evidence stipulating that the value of a woman's testimony was half that of a man. But while her voice was appreciated by liberals who believed that the only way Pakistan's civil society could progress was to improve its human rights record, she had powerful detractors who opposed her actions on the grounds that she was destroying the country's traditional political and social fabric. As a team consisting of lawyers and young feminists, we stand on Asma's shoulders and tread the path blazed by her.

"Asma fought her entire life against dictators and anti-democratic elements", said Ali, adding that undemocratic rulers always try to spread fear in society so people do not raise their voice against the rulers' atrocities.

'We have lost a human rights giant, the United Nations chief said in a statement released after Jahangir's death was announced on Sunday. Not only because at 66 years she had many miles to go and many causes to serve.

"In her teenage years, she came out on the roads against black laws and became an icon of hope", she said.

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Asma was born in Pakistan's Lahore city.

For her work championing minority rights and speaking out against corruption at all levels in Pakistan, Asma Jahangir was targeted by threats on her life by hard lined militants and those within the military establishment.

A recurrent concern for Asma was the increasing intolerance she witnessed not just in her own country but all over the world, and this she considered was the root of all evils.

The Karachi Bar Association, the Malir Bar Association and the Sindh Bar Council (SBC) also observed a day of mourning.

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