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Human Rights Lawyer, Asma Jahangir, Passes Away and Leaves behind Her Legacy

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Renowned lawyer and human rights activist, Asma Jahangir passed away in Lahore on Sunday due to a cardiac arrest. She was Pakistan’s first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She was born and raised in Lahore. Jahangir studied at the Convent of Jesus and Mary before receiving her B.A from Kinnaird and LLB from the Punjab University in 1978. In 1980, she was called to the Lahore High Court and to the Supreme Court in 1982.

In the 1980s, she became a democracy activist and was imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq. In 1986, she moved to Geneva, and became the vice-chairperson of the Defense for Children International and remained until 1988 when she moved back to Pakistan. In 1987, she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary General until 1993 when she was elevated as commission’s chairperson. She was again put under house arrest in November 2007 after the imposition of emergency.

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After serving as one of the leaders of the Lawyers’ Movement, she became Pakistan’s first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She has co-chaired South Asia Forum for Human Rights and was the vice president of International Federation for Human Rights. Jahangir has received several awards including the 2014 Right Livelihood Award, 2010 Freedom Award, Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2010 and  Sitara-e-Imtiaz.

Jahangir was known for her activism on women, minority and human rights issues. She was also the United Nations Rapporteur for Human Rights. She suffered from cardiac arrest on Sunday 11 Feb 2018 and was shifted to a hospital where she passed away at the age of 66. Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar paid rich tributes to the rights icon. People took over social media to express shock over the sudden demise of the outspoken lawyer.

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