LAHORE: Family, friends, colleagues and admirers of Asma Jahangir – a world-renowned rights crusader and a leading lawyer of the Supreme Court of Pakistan – bid her farewell on Tuesday as she was laid to rest at her family’s farmhouse on Bedian Road of Punjab’s provincial capital.
Jahangir’s funeral prayer, led by famous scholar Moulana Maududi’s son Haider Farooq Maududi, was held at the Gaddafi Stadium, where thousands of people – both men and women – swarmed to pay homage to her.
Politicians, who attended her funeral included Aitzaz Ahsan, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Pervaiz Rashid and Hasil Bizenjo. Notable activists, lawyers and journalists – including IA Rahman, Hussain Naqi and Ali Ahmed Kurd – also attended the prayer. Activists raised slogans before the prayer, remembering Jahangir for her work for the poor and the downtrodden.
Aima, a participant at the funeral, said, “Such people are irreplaceable and we will not have another Asma Jahangir to stand for principle with such unwavering conviction. She was born in a particular moment of history and such models of activism can no longer be found”.
Jahangir died on Sunday at a private hospital of Lahore of cardiac arrest at the age of 66. Born on January 27, 1952 to Malik Ghulam Jilani and Sabiha Jilani, she was known for her work as a leading human rights activist.
She was also a staunch supporter of democracy and actively opposed martial law regimes in the country. She faced imprisonment in 1983 for her pro-democracy agitation and put under house arrest during the 2007 Lawyers Movement.
As a lawyer, she held the distinction of being the first female senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. She also became the first female president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) from November 1, 2010 to October 31, 2011.
She was known as an active lawyer who worked for the welfare of the lawyer community. She was recognised internationally; was appointed as the United Nations Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran and was one of the founding members of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
Jahangir was appointed as the HRCP secretary general in 1987 and in 1993 she was elevated as the HRCP chairperson. She later resigned from the position after she decided to contest election for the SCBA presidency in 2010.
Jahangir received 2014 Right Livelihood Award, 2010 Freedom Award as well as the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Ramon Magsaysay Award, Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights and Officier de la Légion d’honneur by France for her services for human rights causes.