Pakistan’s social activist Asma Jahangir dies of cardiac arrest

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Lahore. Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s renowned human rights lawyer, social activist and an outspoken critic of the country’s powerful military establishment, died in Lahore of cardiac arrest. She was 66. Known for her outspoken nature and unrelenting pursuit for human rights, Asma was the first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. Asma is survived by two daughters and a son.


Born in January 1952 in Lahore, Asma co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. After obtaining LLB degree from the Punjab University in 1978, she started her career as an advocate at high court and Supreme court.

Asma became a champion democracy activist and was subsequently imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against the military rule of Pakistan’s longest-serving President Ziaul Haq.

In 1986, she moved to Geneva and became the vice-chair of the Defence for Children International. She remained there until 1988 before moving 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. Asma also played an active role in the famous Lawyers’ Movement to restore Iftikhar Chaudhry as the chief justice of Pakistan.

As the news of Asma’s death broke, condolences started pouring in from lawyers, rights activists and politicians. Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, former president Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan condoled the death of Asma and termed it an “unbearable loss” for the country.