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February 12, 2018

Asma Jahangir: A great voice for rule of law, constitutionalism


February 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD: A great defiant and effective voice vanished from this world as renowned human rights activist and senior lawyer Asma Jahangir passed away, leaving her family and innumerable people to mourn her demise.

She was an eminent lover of democracy and staunch opponent of role of undemocratic forces in politics, inequality and injustice. She fought for this cause throughout her life. She always stood for democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism as she has the conviction that Pakistan’s survival and salvation lies in adhering to these principles.

A woman of immense characteristics, Asma Jahangir was a matchless brave fighter, who could not be coerced by the mightiest, well-entrenched bullies. Even bold people dread to loudly differ with and take them on, apprehending instant reprisals.

She was blessed with the guts to speak without any reservations or fear on topics that even senior politicians, lawyers and commentators wouldn’t for expediency. She would never mince her words in ventilating her opinion.

At all times, Asma Jehangir championed and campaigned that all premier state institutions must remain within their constitutionally defined parameters and must not encroach upon others’ domain because this spells chaos only. A set of people was never fond of this stand.

She was the unique personality of Pakistan, who received countless life threats and despicable titles like traitor and anti-Pakistan, which were hurled by a peculiar class, having a tunnel view. All this was done simply because of her views and to stifle her voice. But she was undeterred and was never cowed down by baseless allegations.

In several TV programmes, she locked horns and stuck to her opinion when she was attacked by participants belonging to a special section of the society in pursuance of an agenda and script. She was always a decent, down-to-earth and soft-spoken analyst, but would not relent when she would be harangued for her belief and estimation.

Myriad efforts were made to get her standpoint changed on key issues for decades, but to no avail. After every rude attack, she emerged stronger. She sturdily opposed all military rules. She had challenged the detention of her father, Malik Jilani, by the General Yayha Khan regime in the Supreme Court. The famous judgment is known after her name.

Asma Jehangir was not only an illustrious human rights activist, but was also very popular in her own community of lawyers. There have been two groups, one led by her and the other by Hamid Khan.

Recently, her group won the Supreme Court Bar Association election for the second consecutive term as well as the Lahore District Bar Association polls.

Pakistan has no distinguished woman after the death of Asma Jehangir, who can do such straight-talking, having no fear from any side. She will be long remembered for her nerve and poise. She has many international laurels to her credit and figured among the most legendary women of Pakistan at the world level.

Asma Jehangir always valiantly spoke for the downtrodden, the oppressed and the persecuted, and suffered attacks from those having blocked minds. She had firm, consistent views on national and international matters, which were liked or disliked by the same people at different times.

This was a strange phenomenon. People kept changing sides, but she wouldn’t. Asma Jehangir always abhorred innuendos, allegations, accusations and mud-slinging in politics and used to counsel the politicians to mend fences to obviate interventions from other institutions. She was of the firm opinion that it was politicians’ fault to provide an opportunity to others to come in and then repent. A huge loss. May her soul rest in peace.

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