Asma Jehangir, Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist, dies at 66

Few Pakistani rights activists have achieved the credibility of JahangirMore

Human rights activists and organisations across the globe grieved the demise of Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani senior lawyer and a strong voice of the oppressed, who passed away on Sunday.

To be a successful activist lawyer, she once noted, one must "have an eye for what's hot, the right case, the right bench".

The nation has been left shocked by her death.

She was also known as the voice of marginalised sections of the Pakistani society.

She remained the head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Supreme Court Bar Association.

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"It is a tribute to a large number of Pakistanis who have worked relentlessly for better human rights in the country", she said.

She got her LLB degree from University of Punjab in 1978.

She co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Women's Action Forum.

In 1999, she was approached for legal advice by a woman named Saima Sarwar who had fled an abusive husband and sought a divorce that was opposed by her family.

Jahangir, a human rights lawyer, had a reputation of speaking truth to power and defending the weak and the marginalized, women and minorities against injustice. I can not believe she is no more among us. "It's everyone's loss. What a sad day!" she said. She defended minority Christians charged with blasphemy, an offense that under Pakistan's controversial law carries the death penalty.

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Ms. Jehangir was a pioneer for women's rights in Pakistan, founding the country's first all-female law firm with her sister Hina Jilani in 1987.

Jehangir is survived by her businessman husband, Tahir Jehangir, a son and two daughters.

Asma became a champion democracy activist and was subsequently imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against the military rule of Pakistan's longest-serving President Ziaul Haq.

In recognition of her services in the field of human rights, Jahangir was awarded the American Bar Association International Human Rights Award in 1992, the Martin Ennals Award and the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1995.

Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf said her death came as a national loss and her work for women rights and democracy will be etched in history. She was most unwanted person by establishment of Pakistan during all marial Laws but she never compromised or bowed down against dictatorial rules.

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The activist and lawyer received several awards, including the French Legion of Honor and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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