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Tributes paid to Pakistan human rights campaigner Asma Jahangir who died yesterday

15 February 2018

Asma Jahangir, one of Pakistan's most prominent right activists and lawyers, died on Sunday of a heart attack in the eastern city of Lahore at the age of 66, her daughter said.

The National Assembly passed the resolution after a debate, while the Senate adopted it without any debate as Chairman Raza Rabbani announced that the house would hold a condolence reference in memory of Asma Jahangir today (Tuesday) and no other business would be taken up.

A fierce defender of democracy, Jahangir was a critic of Pakistan's powerful military establishment and Islamic extremists.

In 1987, she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary General until 1993 when she was elevated as commissions chairperson. She held the United Nations mandate as Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial Killings from 1998 to 2004 and Freedom of Religion or Belief from 2004 to 2010.

Asma was arrested in 2007 by the government of the then military dictator Pervez Musharraf, and in 2012 claimed her life was in danger from the countrys top spy agency - Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). She was to visit jail again under General Pervez Musharraf during the Lawyers Movement of 2007, not that the lawyers of Lahore, majority from small cities and of conservative mind, loved her for her defence of the non-Muslims and women.

The tributes paid to her within hours after the news of her death are a testament to the value of her relentless efforts to establish social justice and promote peace and equality. She was a role model for hundreds of women in Pakistan for standing up to patriarchal norms, and gave a voice to the millions of voiceless in the country who continue to be persecuted day in and day out with complete impunity. "She will always be remembered for her brilliant record in defense of human rights and her courageous reports on the crimes of the Iranian regime", tweeted Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI.

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"Ms. Jahangir called for vital human rights reforms and took urgent action on a large number of cases, affecting many lives in Iran", said a statement released by a group of human rights organizations.

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

The RSF added that Jahangir's death was a "major blow" to the rights of the poor and the downtrodden.

Jahangir faced death threats, beatings and imprisonment to win landmark human rights cases while standing up todictators.

Others talked about her impact on human rights throughout the region, expressing their condolences on her passing. With the voices of intolerance getting louder and louder-causing wars, displacement, inequality, gender discrimination, and meaningless violence-Asma Jahangir's was one that challenged the status quo and exposed it with fearlessness and clarity.

"For decades, Asma bravely fought for the most disadvantaged people in Pakistan, often at great personal risk".

Tributes paid to Pakistan human rights campaigner Asma Jahangir who died yesterday