Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir dies at 66

By Daniel Uria  |  Feb. 11, 2018 at 3:57 PM
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Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir died at the age of 66 on Sunday.

Jahangir, who was one of the most vocal critics of the Pakistani military regime and an advocate of rights for women and minorities, died after experiencing cardiac arrest in the eastern city of Lahore.

"She was always on the front line for progressive voices, even when democracy was under threat," Sherry Rehman, an opposition senator in Pakistan's Parliament told Al Jazeera. "We are all reeling from shock, the global human rights community is bereft -- one of Pakistan's brightest faces is gone."

During her legal career, Jahangir focused on religious- and gender-based discrimination cases and fought for fairer employment conditions for brick kiln workers in Pakistan.

She also was elected as the fist woman to serve as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan and held multiple positions as a U.N. Special Rapporteur and the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Jahangir faced death threats for her criticism of Pakistan's military, intelligence and armed groups, including a plot by the country's Inter-Services Intelligence.

She was jailed in 1983 for taking part in a movement advocating for fundamental human rights during the military regime and arrested in 2007 by the government of then military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

"Pakistan mourns for losing one of its bravest daughters who fought for human rights. She will be remembered throughout the journey towards stronger women rights in Pakistan," Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said.

Salman Sufi, director-general of Strategic Reforms Unit of the Punjab Government, hailed Jahangir for her "undeniably crucial" role in establishing the Punjab Women Protection Authority which set up centers to protect women from violence.

"Pakistan has lost its fiercest leader," Sufi said.

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