Everybody knows Asma Jahangir for the fierce lawyer she was. It would take centuries for Pakistan to be yet again blessed with someone as strong as her to revolutionise justice and treatment of the marginalised in the country. It was Jahangir’s undying efforts that brought about waves of change in the country’s judicial system and the implementation of laws against human rights in the society. For that and a lot more, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, hand in hand with the civil society, held a reference to honour the icon of human rights in Pakistan – Asma Jahangir – a stalwart indeed. The event recently took place at the Khorsheed Mahal, Avari Towers in Karachi, where the programme was moderated by Uzma Noorani.

The event started with a key note speech by I. A. Rehman who spoke about Jahangir’s brilliance at length and talked about her role in establishing a platform for human rights in Pakistan. Another prominent name was that of Anis Haroon, who recited a poem on Jahangir’s legacy and received a huge round of applause for her recital. Social activist and writer Abdul Wahid Baloch and Asad Butt Rashid Rizvi spoke about the lack of implementation of human rights in the country, shedding light on the legacy Jahangir has left behind. Renowned journalists too spoke highly of the rebellious lawyer’s support for various journalists as well as praised her courage to speak against different anti-democratic forces.

The event was packed with supporters and followers of Jahangir, who was a beacon of hope for many belonging to the marginalised communities, following which another human rights activist, Rochi Ram, commended her support for the rights of the minorities and the significance of political activism. Director of PILER, Karamat Ali discussed the urgency of people raising their voice against the forces that violate basic human rights and asked the event’s attendees to join HRCP in this fight. Social workers and minority rights activists Veeru Kohli and Mano Bheel spoke about the late human rights lawyer’s support and encouragement to help the needy, while a hari (farmer) leader and bonded labour activist, Noha Bheel said that Asma’s legacy lives on in all those who are fearless and those who support the poor and oppressed.

The highlight of the event was the beautiful and powerful performance by legendary Kathak dancer, Sheema Kirmani along with her talented group of performers, who paid tribute to a champion of human rights by depicting her brave struggle through their great act. Many renowned names of the civil society were present at the commemorative evening and shared their thoughts on the exemplary human that Jahangir was. The event closed after the inauguration of a poster exhibition and presentation of a short film based on the lawyer’s life as well as her many interviews.