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Pakistan: Asma Jahangir had a ’people’s funerals’ instead of a state funeral

Thursday 15 February 2018, by siawi3

Source: https://dailytimes.com.pk/202265/no-asma-not-agree-state-funeral/

Op-Ed
No, Asma would not agree to a state funeral

It is very likely that Asma Jahangir would have refused a state funeral even if she was offered one

Zulfiquar Rao

February 15, 2018 - 5 hours ago

When news of renowned human rights defender Asma Jahangir’s passing broke out on Sunday, it seemed as if the most marginalised sections of Pakistani society had been orphaned. She was an active defender of democracy and human rights till the night before her death.

So much has been written about Jahangir in the last few days in the national and international media, that it seems as if a head of state of global stature has left the world in an untimely manner. While she was not the premier of any country, the world and several international institutions, such as the United Nations (UN) recognized her decades of committed service and contributions to the rule of law, peace and human rights at the national and international level. Prior to her burial, many well known opinion makers and politicians demanded that the government of Pakistan give her a state funeral in recognition of her services.

However, whether or not someone gets a state funeral is not just up to the government. The family of the deceased has to give its consent, and we don’t know whether Asma Jahangir’s family wanted a State funeral for her or not. However, it is almost certain that if one asked her about her opinion on a state funeral for her, she would have refused. This was a woman who fought against the state’s high handedness since she was a teenager. If she were to speak, she probably would have demanded that the government mainstream FATA immediately and grant full political rights to the people there in exchange for the state funeral.

In any case, state funerals in this country are usually offered for those who were agents of the state itself, or those who served the country’s people without taking the state head on, such as Abdul Sattar Edhi and Ruth Pfau. While the contributions of Edhi and Pfau can’t be disputed, Asma Jahangir knew the importance of confronting the injustice perpetrated by the state in a direct manner. For these reasons, she would not have appreciated the theatrics of a state funeral.

In any case, state funerals in this country are usually offered for those who are agents of the state itself, or those who serve the country’s people without taking the state head on, such as Abdul Sattar Edhi and Ruth Pfau

It is no wonder that she was subjected disgusting smear campaigns; being referred to as a sell-out, traitor, liberal fascist and an Indian, American or Israeli agent by certain sections of Pakistani society which remain blinded by the influence of short-sighted patriotism. Pakistan’s mainstream news and social media is rife with this sort of jingoism, which is ideologically supported by the deep state’s narrative which supports the ludicrous idea that international forces are constantly scheming against this country.

Had hers been a state funeral, we would not have seen men and women smashing social norms by offering funeral prayers together? Our orthodox clergy and their followers were no doubt, perturbed over these scenes from her funeral.

Her last rites shattered a long held social taboo which discouraged women from performing funeral prayers in public, even though there is no prohibition against this in Islamic religious scripture.

Asma Jahangir and those like her don’t seek the sanction of the state. She would have opted for a people’s funeral to a state funeral. She represented the truer conscience of people who stood for humanity, justice and respect for diversity of opinions, beliefs and identities.

The writer is a sociologist with interest in history and politics.

Published in Daily Times, February 15th 2018

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Also see: Pakistani media

Coverage in The Nation

2:36 PM, February 13, 2018
Asma Jahangir’s funeral prayers offered at Gaddafi Stadium
https://nation.com.pk/13-Feb-2018/asma-jahangir-s-funeral-prayers-offered-at-gaddafi-stadium

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February 14, 2018
Tribute paid to Asma Jahangir
https://nation.com.pk/14-Feb-2018/tribute-paid-to-asma-jahangir

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February 14, 2018
Rights icon Asma Jahangir laid to rest
https://nation.com.pk/14-Feb-2018/rights-icon-asma-jahangir-laid-to-rest

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1:35 AM, February 14, 2018
Pakistan’s larger than life iron lady
https://nation.com.pk/14-Feb-2018/pakistan-s-larger-than-life-iron-lady

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11:22 AM, February 12, 2018
UN chief pays tribute to late Asma Jahangir
https://nation.com.pk/12-Feb-2018/un-chief-pays-tribute-to-late-asma-jahangir

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10:48 AM, February 12, 2018
Sindh CM requests federal govt to give Asma Jahangir a state funeral
https://nation.com.pk/12-Feb-2018/sindh-cm-requests-federal-govt-to-give-asma-jahangir-a-state-funeral

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Coverage in Dawn, Herald

Leading human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir passes away in Lahore
https://www.dawn.com/news/1388771/asma-jahangir-leading-human-rights-lawyer-pass...
Sun, 02/11/2018 - 13:14

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Asma Jahangir: The street fighter
https://herald.dawn.com/news/1153540
Updated Feb 11, 2018 03:24pm

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Speaking truth to power
June 15, 2012
https://www.dawn.com/news/726852/speaking-truth-to-power-2

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Republic of fear: ’Terror unleashed in the name of religion can only be challenged through moral courage’
by Asma Jahangir
Updated Feb 11, 2016 05:07pm
https://herald.dawn.com/news/1153333/republic-of-fear

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For tweets and photos of young Asma, see:

Asma Jahangir dies: Pakistan, South Asian human rights community and media grieve loss of activist
NH Web Desk: Feb 11th 2018, 04.02 PM
https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/international/asma-jahangir-dies-pakistan-south-asian-human-rights-community-and-media-grieve-loss-of-activist

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In the Indian media: Here is what Pakistani media is saying on Asma Jahangir

http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/asma-jahangirs-india-connection-and-how-pakistans-media-is-covering-the-rights-activists-demise/1062829/

Asma Jahangir’s India connection and how Pakistan’s media is covering the rights activist’s demise
Respected for her unabashed criticism of both Pakistan as well as India, Asma led several campaigns that sought to end the oppression of women, children and the downtrodden.

By: FE Online

Published: February 12, 2018 3:13 PM

Asma Jahangir, a prominent lawyer and Pakistan’s renowned human rights activist, passed away after suffering a stroke on Sunday. (IE)

Asma Jahangir, a prominent lawyer and Pakistan’s renowned human rights activist, passed away after suffering a stroke on Sunday. She was 66 years old. The news of her death was confirmed by her daughter on Twitter. Known for her outspoken nature, Asma was the first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. Asma’s daughter Munizae Jahangir said in a tweet, “I am devastated at the loss of my mother Asma Jahangir. We shall be announcing the date of funeral soon. We are waiting for our relatives to return to Lahore.” Asma’s funeral will be held on February 13, as per a Geo News report. Condolences and tributes poured in from people from her family, lawyers, celebrities, people from film fraternity and media on Asma’s death. Respected for her unabashed criticism of both Pakistan as well as India, Asma led several campaigns that sought to end the oppression of women, children and the downtrodden.

Recognised as a champion of human rights, Asma also had a meeting with Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in her capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights. She was in India to work on rights issues, including those of Indian Muslims. Asma was also clear in her views on the Kashmir and Balochistan disputes, advocating for human rights on both spectrums. While she was scathing in her critique of Pakistan over human rights violations, she was also equally vocal about the demands for peace with India.

Here is what Pakistani media is saying on Asma Jahangir:

• Pakistan’s prominent news website Dawn, in its editorial, ‘Asma the fearless’, has called her a citizen that all of Pakistan could be proud of. The article said, “Principled and courageous, Asma’s willingness and determination to confront evil, defend the vulnerable, and insist on Pakistan living up to the ideals of its democratic, constitutional and secular foundations made her truly iconic.”

• The Express Tribune highlighted Asma’s career as a lawyer. Advocate Chaudhry Akhtar Ali in an article titiled, ‘Heart of gold: The Asma Jahangir few knew’ was quoted as saying, “She contested almost half of her cases without charging a single penny, but very few know this aspect of her career because she never wanted to publicise her efforts for needy and deserving clients.”

• The Express Tribune also mentioned the cases that she could not argue. The daily reported, “Asma had agreed to contest contempt case against Minister of State Talal Chaudhry, which has been fixed for next week. She was discussing the case with senior lawyer Azam Nazeer Tarar when she dropped her cell phone. Tarar wasn’t sure what happened and tried to call her back, with no success.”

• Following the tragic news of Asma’s demise, the lawyers’ representative bodies in Pakistan are observing a day of mourning today. As per the report by Pakistan’s Geo Tv, in remembrance of the services rendered by Jahangir, who also served as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, mourning today has been announced. Lawyers throughout Punjab and Balochistan will not be appearing in courts today. The Lahore High Court Bar is also in mourning.

• Meanwhile, Ary News has termed Asma Jahangir’s death as an ‘End of a valiant human rights fighter’. In another article, Ary News reported that she was among the rare personalities participated in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) during Ziaul Haq’s dictatorial regime and sent to Jail for her activism in 1983. She had always been a very vocal critic of the human rights violations in the country, besides widely popular for taking up court cases of marginalized segments of the society, the report said.

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