Lahore - Pakistan is mourning: Asma Jilani Jahangir, a well-known Muslim lawyer and Pakistani activist, committed to the protection of human rights, died yesterday, 11 February in Lahore following a cardiac arrest, at the age of 66. In a long career of social militancy, she had co-founded and presided over the "Human Rights Commission of Pakistan" and, at an international level, she had served as a special UN Rapporteur on religious freedom.
Pakistani Christians remember the woman, who attended Catholic schools, as a point of reference for the struggle in the protection of the dignity and fundamental rights of women, of the most vulnerable, of religious minorities, and for the defense of justice, of peace and equality in society.
Fr. Qaisar Feroz, OFM cap director of the National Commission for Social Communications in the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan, tells Agenzia Fides: "We have lost a voice for the voiceless, for the poor, for the defense of the weakest. She raised awareness of fundamental rights and freedom in Pakistani society. Let us look at her example as a person who believed and worked for authentic justice, without any difference regarding ethnicity, religion or culture. We hope that other leaders have the same courage and devotion to the defense of human dignity in Pakistan".
The Catholic community greatly appreciated her spirit and social passion and a Catholic delegation led by the Archbishop of Lahore, Sebastian Shaw, went today, February 12, to offer condolences to the family and will participate in the funeral.
Anjum James Paul, Catholic lecturer and President of the "Pakistan Minorities Teacher Association", tells Fides: "Asma was a mentor for many of us. We learned a lot from her, especially in believing in justice, freedom and our rights. She was not afraid to raise her voice for the defense of human rights and for the condemnation of terrorism and injustice. Today we have the responsibility to continue her work, to build a nation that guarantees every citizen equal opportunities, peace, justice, respect for fundamental rights". >>