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Asma Jehangir, prominent Pakistani rights activist, dies

Asma Jehangir, prominent Pakistani rights activist, dies

Renowned senior lawyer and eminent human rights activist Asma Jahangir passed away in Lahore on Sunday, the DawnNews reported.

The representative of Baloch Republican Party to the UNHRC, Abdul Nawaz Bugti said that Asma Jahangir was a fearless voice of the oppressed people, including the Baloch who stood for their rights and spoke truth to the power.

Pakistan Peoples Party Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari expressed shock over the her demise, saying she was not just a person but was an effective voice for human rights. She had also been Supreme Court Bar Association president.

More recently she spoke out against BBC Persian journalists being put on trial in Iran, as part of her role as United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Iran.

In the early '80s, she was imprisoned for partaking in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy during the military regime of Zia ul Haq. Asma Jahangir lived, practiced till her last breath.

The rights commission which she helped create made its name defending religious minorities and tackling highly charged blasphemy accusations along with cases of "honour" killings - in which victims, normally women, are murdered by a relative for bringing shame on the family.

Amnesty International's South Asia director Omar Waraich said Ms Jahangir had "never wavered".

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She said Pakistan should first take up the issue of capital punishment through unfair trials here and of those Pakistanis who were being consistently executed in Saudi Arabia and then show disproportionately high passion for the politicians of Bangladesh. Her honesty and sincerity to her cause remains an inspiration for our generation.

Outspoken Jahangir was known as a defender of democracy and human rights in the country, always speaking out against military rule.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed grief at Asma Jahangir's death, praising her contribution to upholding the rule of law and safeguarding human rights. "Asma! Rest in Power!"

Nobel Peace Prize victor Malala Yousafzai called Ms Jahangir a "saviour of democracy and human rights".

According to initial reports, Jahangir was shifted to a hospital after she complained of chest pain where she breathed her last.

The activist and lawyer received several awards, including the French Legion of Honor and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Jahangir also won numerous awards over the years including a UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights and an Officier de la Légion d'honneur by France.

Pakistan's former foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, tweeted, "There' s no one who can match her bravery and courage".

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