Lahore: Longtime Pakistani human rights advocate Asma Jahangir, 66, who died of a cardiac arrest today, was known for representing people who were denied their fundamental rights. Her supporters say Ms Jahangir fought for human rights in Pakistan even in the face of heavy odds such as death threats.
Born on January 27, 1952 in Lahore, Ms Jahangir studied at the Convent of Jesus and Mary before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kinnaird and a law degree from Punjab University in 1978.
In 1987, she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary General until 1993 when she was elevated as the commission's chairperson.
Asma Jahangir was also the co-chair of South Asians for Human Rights. She was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions and later as the UN Rapporteur of Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The rights activist was put under house arrest and later imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the movement for restoration of political and fundamental rights during the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq.
She was again put under house arrest in November 2007 after the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan. In 2012 she claimed her life was in danger from the feared Inter Services Intelligence spy agency.
In recognition of her services in the field of human rights, Ms Jahangir was awarded the American Bar Association International Human Rights Award in 1992, the Martin Ennals Award and the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1995.
President Mamnoon Hussain, Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar along with other politicians, lawyers and journalists have expressed grief over Ms Jahangir's death.
Pakistan's Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif tweeted: "Pakistan has lost a passionate champion of human rights and a staunch supporter of democracy."