Civil society pays tribute to Asma, demands Nobel Prize for her

Pic19-062 LAHORE: Feb 19 – Former foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri addressing a condolence reference organized by SAFMA in the memory of prominent lawyer and activist Asma Jehangir. ONLINE PHOTO by Sajid Rana

LAHORE: The members of civil society on Monday passed a resolution in which they demanded from the Nobel Prize Committee to consider Asma Jahangir’s name for the Nobel Peace Prize to honour her lifetime struggle for the supremacy of constitution, rule of principles and superiority of democracy.

A condolence reference to pay tribute to Asma Jahangir was held at a local hotel in Lahore, which was attended by a large number of civil society members, lawyers, students and political activists. The keynote speakers included former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, Justice (r) Nasira Javed, I A Rehman, Imtiaz Alam, Jugnu Mohsin, Ihsan Wayin, Farooq Tariq, Moona Baig and Sulema Jahangir.

Remembering his relation with Asma, Khurshid Kasuri said that he knew Asma since she was young as the two had close family terms. While recalling his memories with the late human rights activist, he said that whenever Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto used to visit Lahore, Asma was Nusrat Bhutto’s host.

“Asma was a genius and brave person who remained tolerant despite facing crucial circumstances,” he said and added, “The common thing between me and Asma was the tolerance, even though we had different opinions”.

Khurshid said that Asma treated everyone equally, even those whom she had ideological differences with.

Nasira Javed while expressing grief, said that Asma passed away so early and no one can replace her. “Asma was younger than me but professionally she was much stronger than I am. It was because of her efforts that women of the country now have the courage to raise their voice,” she said.

“She was loyal and committed and that was why even the politicians who were against her, wanted Asma to be their lawyer,” Nasira said and added that she was an institute in herself.

Imtiaz Alam said that Asma had yet a lot to do and the people were not ready to witness her demise. “She always stood by her stance and made many to bow before her,” he said. Calling her a great liberal, Alam said that she remained active against sectarianism, extremism and dictatorship.

“She fought for the rights of the deprived and oppressed segments of the society and for democracy. She raised her voice against the misuse of blasphemy laws over which she was even declared a non-Muslim, but she ignored the pressure and still stood by her stance,” he said.

Ihsan Wayin said that Asma was the greatest human rights defender in the world and believed in harmony, impartiality and justice for everyone. “People from smaller provinces had blind trust in Asma because she kept on fighting for their rights,” he said and added that she was the only one in Pakistan who criticised the wrong judgments of the court.

Jugnu Mohsin while paying tribute to the late lawyer said that she had been deprived of a great friend. “In the most troubled times of my life, I used to contact Asma,” she said while recalling how it was because of Asma’s efforts that her husband Najam Sethi was released after being arrested in 1999.

I A Rehman in his address said that Asma was an institute developer. He said that what needs to be understood is Asma’s legacy that she has left behind.

“No one can ever replace Asma, but the thing is to retain her work. Asma fought for the rights of labourers, women, the  deprived and oppressed, and it should now be our duty to work for them as she did,” he said and added that Asma is the name of the rising movement of humankind as she used to say that we need a liberal political leadership to eliminate terrorism from the country.

Participants passed four resolutions, one from the Nobel Prize Committee and three from the authorities – to name a road after Asma in Lahore, replace the name of the Constitutional Avenue in Islamabad with Asma’s name and to create a chair in the name of Asma in every law college of the country.