Lahore (AsiaNews) – Thousands of people yesterday took part in the funeral of Asma Jahangir, a well-known Pakistani lawyer and activist who passed away on Sunday at the age of 66.
Among those who came for a final goodbye were many Christians, nuns and priests. For everyone, the co-foundress of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan will remain an example of dedication in favour of the rights of the weakest and minorities.
The funeral was held in Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium under tight security. Dozens of agents were deployed to ensure the safety of those who came.
Participants chanted slogans and women, dressed in mourning black, sobbed quietly remembering a woman who fearlessly denounced violations of human rights in the country.
Asma Jahangir “set a standard,” Prof Kalyan Singh, general secretary of Guru Nanak Ji Mission, told AsiaNews. “Religious minorities have lost their mother. She was the only one to challenge the pharaohs of the time, including the army and clerics.”
A delegation of the Daughters of Saint Paul nuns was also in attendance. They carried a placard that said “Asma, the true spirit of humanity” (pictured).
Sister Magdaline Ishaq remembered how the activist often gave lectures at events organised at the of St Mary Minor Seminary. “She always accepted our invitation and condemned state discriminatory policies and laws. She was brave like Saint Paul, always working to unite all groups,” Sr Ishaq said.
The National Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan said that Catholics were full of sadness at the lawyer’s sudden death.
““She worked tirelessly to ensure human rights for all citizens of Pakistan, in particular the rights of women. She always stood courageously for equality and rights of the oppressed and marginalised communities,” said a note released on Monday, signed by Commission President Mgr Joseph Arshad, National Director Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, and Executive Director Cecil Shane Chaudhry.
“Ms Asma Jahangir was a national asset, a legend whose contribution towards upholding rule of law, democracy and rights of entire human race have inspired us and many a generation. She was indeed a voice for the voiceless and with her passing our nation is in shock and grief. The vacuum created by her [disappearance] will never be filled”.
Finally, the Commission asked the nation to be motivated and inspired by her life and struggle and pay tribute by continuing to be considerate towards others and carry on the light of humanity lit by her, by speaking up for the oppressed and marginalised communities in Pakistan.