The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has suspended party activities and will fly its flags at half mast to pay tribute to renowned lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir who passed away on Sunday. She was 66. Media reports the cause of death as cardiac arrest. She is survived by her husband, two daughters and a son.
“The [Party’s] Chairperson [Bilawal Bhutto] has directed the party to hold references across the country to pay homage to her [Asma Jahangir],” tweeted filmmaker Assad Zulfiqar Khan.
Asma Jahangir had become synonymous with human rights activism in Pakistan. She was a lawyer and a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. A staunch opposer of the military in Pakistan, she was put under house arrest many times for openly speaking her mind and for her activism. In Pakistan, she was even called an Indian spy, for having tried to broker peace during the Kargil war. At the same time, she minced no words when speaking about the human rights violation in Kashmir by the Indian army.
She was the first woman to win the election of the Supreme Court Bar Association. Due to her activism, within her own profession she was subjected to smear campaigns and often her family was attacked. It was towering above all this that she became the only female senior advocate of the Supreme Court.
Her achievements in her career, did not, however stop her from criticizing the system. She was vehemently against the corruption and intervention by judges in executive matters through the use of suo motu notices.
The representative of Baloch Republican Party to the UNHRC, Abdul Nawaz Bugti said that Asma Jahangir was a brave voice of the oppressed people, including the Baloch who stood for their rights and spoke truth to the power.
She received several awards, including a Hilal-i-Imtiaz and a Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2010.
Jahangir is also a recipient of the 2010 Freedom Award, 2014 Right Livelihood Award, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights, and an Officier de la Legion d’honneur by France.