IA Rehman, Afrasyab Khattak and Nasreen Zehra. (ENN)
ISLAMABAD (ENN) The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) held a memorial for celebrated lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir on Monday.
The event was divided into two sections; the first for paying tribute to Asma Jahangir and the second was a panel discussion on how to take her work forward.
Human rights activist I.A. Rehman delivered the keynote speech and talked about Asma’s trajectory and her struggle for human rights, calling her a fearless and courageous fighter.
There were many sides to Asma Jahangir, he said, adding that she was a political figure but was also known for her work for women’s rights, child rights, minority rights and her struggle for democracy.
“She did not belong to any political party but all parties would seek her advice,” he said.
Renowned poet Kishwar Naheed recited poems at the event including those she had written about the late lawyer or on her request, including Hum Gunahgar Aurtein, Woh Nanhi Aurat and Aman Ki Shehzadi Asma.
Human rights activist Tahira Abdullah, who broke into tears while speaking about Asma, said: “We are still in state of denial and it will take a long time to come out of it.”
She recited one of Asma’s favourite poems, Hum ne Ja ke dekh liya.
Anchorperson Nasim Zehra shared incidents from Asma’s childhood, saying she did not fear authority even as a child.
“Once, a teacher punished Asma and made her stand on a chair. Asma was the last to leave one day and locked the teacher in the classroom,” she said.
Speaking at the panel discussion, Senator Farhatullah Babar said Asma knew the difference between right and wrong and was not afraid of leading.
He said human rights will continue to be violated as long as there are extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances and as long as the powerful remain unaccountable.
Former Awami National Party senator Afrasiab Khattak said Asma cared about all oppressed segments of society and led all movements in the country such as the democratic movement, lawyers’ movement or the women’s rights movement.
He suggested a seven-point agenda to work on, including the separation of religion and the state, a fair distribution of wealth and resources, genuine multi-national federalism, gender equality, democracy and the right to expression and association, a non-aligned foreign policy and ecologically sustainable development.