Remembering Asma Jahangir; the fearless crusader

  • 17 Feb - 23 Feb, 2018
  • Omair Alavi
  • Obituary

Woman of steel, who stood unbreakable and unflinching to countless death threats, reprimanded by powerful dictators of her time and extreme pressure groups, Asma Jahangir succumbed to a brain haemorrhage at her residence in Lahore on February 11, 2018. The 66-year-old transcended her phenomenal decades-long career as a lawyer, an activist and a champion for human rights.

A workaholic, who was always seen bustling with energy, seeking vengeance from the oppressors and navigating the forces within her to deliver justice to the tyrannised; Asma left this world whilst working. She was in the middle of a phone call at her residence with a senior lawyer, arranging for a meeting when she collapsed suddenly. Immediately rushed to a private hospital, Asma could not survive. Travelling abroad earlier, this was to be Asma’s last visit to the country for which she laid down her world. She is succeeded by her husband, a son and two daughters.

Her appalling and unforeseen death that has the entire nation crestfallen is wistfully reminiscent of the suddenness of her nature, with which she overtook her opponents and shunned those who were adamant on choking the voice of the innocent.

Asma presided over the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan for three mighty years from 2010 to 2012. She was a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in 1987, prior to which she was working for the Women’s Action Forum. Since 2016 she served as the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran. She was also the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including , 2014 Right Livelihood Award, 2010 Freedom Award, Martin Ennals Award, Ramon Magsaysay Award, Leo Eitinger Award and Officer de la Legion d’honneur by France.

As the nation mourns dispirited at her death, people remember Asma’s diligence, hard work and concern for the masses. Hailed as the voice of the voiceless, the silence of Asma’s death will rattle in our hearts and ears in symphony, each time an oppressed fails to seek their right and justice.