Asma Jahangir was a global icon in human rights: USA

Asma Jahangir

Asma Jahangir

"Asma Jahangir always fought for democracy and what guarantees democracy, starting with the press".

Only a few days before Pakistan's most famous human rights advocate, Asma Jahangir, was felled by a heart attack, she was speaking out in support of a group of ethnic Pashtuns who had marched across the country from their homes along the Afghanistan border to protest military brutality.

Ms. Jahangir was the current UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, having assumed the position on 1 November 2016.

Jahangir was instrumental in a campaign that resulted in Pakistani women acquiring the right to marry of their own free will in 2003.

Her appeal was not restricted to Pakistan. "Her name was Asma Jahangir", she said. Asma died at the age of 66 on Sunday after suffering cardiac arrest. She was born in January 1952, received a bachelor's degree from Kinnaird College and an LLB from Punjab University.

She was also elected as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan and as Chairperson of the country's Human Rights Commission.

"For years, she courageously defended the rights of those who did not have a voice, and championed the rule of law, democracy, and human rights including freedom of religion or belief", U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Jahangir faced death threats, beatings and imprisonment to win landmark human rights cases while standing up to dictators. She was called to the Lahore High Court in 1980 and to the Supreme Court in 1982.

Jahangir went about her task in a lawyerly way, traversing India to gather evidence from officials, human rights activists and religious minorities.

She was jailed in 1983 for taking part in a movement advocating for fundamental human rights during the military regime and arrested in 2007 by the government of then military ruler Pervez Musharraf.