Pakistan: Asma Jahangir — A towering progressive icon

Asma Jahangir.

Asma Jahangir was a Pakistani social activist and world-renowned human rights lawyer, who died on February 11, aged 66. Below is a statement released by the Awami Workers’ Party (AWP), a socialist party in Pakistan formed by the merger of several left parties in 2012.

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The leaders and workers of the AWP are shocked and grieved at the devastating news of the demise of Asma Jahangir, who passed away from cardiac arrest on February 11. It is hard to put into words the tragedy that her loss represents.

Asma Jahangir was a towering progressive icon in Pakistan and the rest of the world, a peerless champion of human rights, an untiring campaigner for women’s liberation, and a friend to the oppressed and downtrodden everywhere.

She stood up to three military dictatorships, held accountable several civilian governments, fiercely opposed the Taliban and other violent extremist groups when others would cower before them in fear.

She braved years of state repression and arrests for her fierce criticism of the state’s national security and foreign policies; yet despite innumerable challenges and risks, she never stopped fighting for what she believed in.

Apart from her countless services rendered for people’s rights across Pakistan and the world, Asma Jahangir was also a friend to the AWP and provided pro-bono legal assistance for the party’s various struggles.

She supported Gilgit-Baltistan’s prisoner of conscience, AWP comrade Baba Jan, fought for the rights of Bhatta mazdoors (labourers), raised her voice for victims of enforced disappearances, assisted the struggle for land rights by the peasants of Okara, and much more.

Her loss represents something incalculable, a loss for all oppressed peoples and nations in Pakistan and the rest of humanity, whose rights she dedicated her life to. We mourn her as a friend, ally and comrade in struggle.

AWP vows to continue Asma Jahangir’s legacy of democratisation, fundamental rights, and progressive values in its struggle for a democratic and socialist Pakistan. We pledge to fight against the same forces of dictatorship, fanaticism, patriarchy and economic injustice that Asma dedicated her life to fighting.

Her ideology will live on in the hearts and actions of the millions that she inspired with her example.

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