In a society that is driven by fanaticism and intolerance, being an outspoken woman working for human rights is never easy. Asma Jahangir’s life was no exception. From death threats to blasphemy allegations to branding her “Qadiyani”. She had been called anti Pakistan, foreign agent, army hater but every time she responded to these labels either by her intellect or through her character. Here are some of the incidents when she silenced her haters through her commitment to her principles.
- When she was branded “Indian agent” over her picture with Bal Thackeray.When asked about her photo with Bal Thackeray, the founder of right wing Hindu Nationalist party Shiv Sena, Asma Jahangir responded, “Some friends have used these photos for propaganda without even telling the reason behind the purpose of that meeting. I went to India as United Nation’s special rapporteur for freedom of religion to investigate the atrocities that happened in Gujarat and Mumbai. (Pointing towards anti Muslim riots) When you write a report, you meet parties, the perpetrators as well as the victims, if only they had shown photos with victims as well. Just go to the U.N website and read my report where I have condemned these elements, I didn’t go to there to enjoy tea with them.”
- When she silenced the haters by showing up at Kashmir solidarity rally.One of the strongest propaganda against Asma Jahangir by the trolls was that she never speaks for the oppressed Kashmiri people. She took part in Kashmir solidarity rally and made a fiery speech by even mentioning Burhan Wani, the Hizb ul Mujahiden leader who was killed by the Indian forces.“Every child in Sirinagar speaks in favor of Burhan Wani, calls him their leader. The Youth of Kashmir has turned their backs at Delhi and Delhi must understand that they (Kashmiris) are not ready to live with them.
- When she expressed her opinion about Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.Just like her photo with Bal Thackeray, another photo which used to circulate on social media to malign her image was her photo with Narendra Modi, however while remember Narendra Modi, she once said.“I believe the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi is a clever fox, he is bringing the issue of Baluchistan and Gilgit Baltistan only to divert the Kashmir problem. He is on a campaign to eliminate the Kashmiris, destroy their intellectual capacity and twist their mind through fear.”
- When she stood for her principles, even if it was about her opponents.In May 2007, MQM chief called Asma Jahangir a “chauvinist lady” who should form her own “chauvinist party”. However, eight years later, when Lahore High Court ordered Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to black out the coverage of Altaf Hussain, it was Asma Jahangir, who decided to represent Altaf Hussain when no other lawyer was willing to. Talk about being loyal to your principles.
- When she responded to Orya Maqbool Jan teaching her “modesty.”In a live TV Show at one of the private news channels, Orya Maqbool did what he is best known for, he kept reminding Asma Jahangir the “Islamic Dress Code” about how women is supposed to dress to which she responded, “Dress code is just for us women, not for men like him, I have my own modesty, I don’t take modesty from you or any cleric, I dress according to my own self. I don’t need your modesty, who are you to teach that to me or any woman? Why are you imposing it on me? Do whatever you want, wear Burqa or Shuttlecock.”
- When she made her position clear regarding the armed forces.Asma Jahangir was an open critic of military intervention in politics, which is why she earned massive hate over the digital, electronic and print media who always branded her, “anti army” in one of her press conferences she said: “ If you fight over the border, we will cheer for you, we will sing in your praise, we will sacrifice our lives for you, however if you enter politics, we will not surrender you our rights.”
- When she showed, who the boss was. When Asma Jahangir decided to contest the election for the Supreme Court Bar Association’s president in 2009-2010, she faced stiff opposition from many sections of the society, including newspapers and television channels. The media campaign against her was led by the Jang Group’s senior reporter Ansar Abbasi and it focused on projecting her as anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam. Six years later, the same media group engaged her as a counsel to represent it before the Supreme Court.Yep, that’s a mic drop moment. Even the worst critics of Asma Jahangir cannot deny that they she stood for their freedoms and fundamental rights. She helped shape all of our lives through her struggle for a democratic and inclusive Pakistan. While she is no more, let’s remember her as someone who gave the words courage and bravery a new meaning in its own.
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