Asma. A human rights giant, and more. My tribute in EPW

Wrote this piece for the Economic and Political Weekly, published a couple of weeks ago. Unedited version here with additional links, photos and videos.

  • Asma Jahangir, lawyer, human rights activist.
  • Born 27 January 1952, Lahore; died: 11 February 2018, Lahore.
  • Co-founder: AGHS law firm, 1980, AGHS Legal Aid Cell, 1983; Womens Action Forum, 1981;
  • Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 1986.
  • Involved in launch of Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, 1994, and launch of South Asians for Human Rights, 2000.
  • UN Special Rapporteur: extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, 1998 to 2004; freedom of religion or belief, 2004-2010; situation of human rights in Iran, November 2016 till death.
  • Elected first female President, Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association, 2010.

Asma was all this and so much more. Continue reading

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Soch Columbia: “Rethinking Partition: The Quest for Jinnah’s Nation”

L to R - Kapil Dev, Ameena Zia, Yasser Latif Hamdani, Qasim Rashid, Hira Azhar

Panel on Azadi: The Fight for Religious Freedom in South Asia: (L-R) Kapil Dev, Ameena Zia, Yasser Latif Hamdani, Qasim Rashid, Hira Azhar. Photo: Columbia Soch.

Delighted to have participated at the Soch (thought) conference organised by Pakistani students association that includes at least one Indian (love it!) at Columbia University in New York last weekend. I was struck by the boldness of the themes they chose as well as the choice of speakers, many known for their outspokenness against the ‘establishment’. Below, their press release (photos: courtesy Soch). Continue reading

Asma’s tribe: a remembrance at Harvard

Shahla Haeri-pic Ibrahim Rashid

Iranian anthropologist Shahla Haeri pays tribute to her Pakistani behen Asma. Photo: Ibrahim Rashid.

Days after Asma Jahangir passed away in Lahore, some of us, members of what I think of as Asma’s tribe, got together at Harvard to commemorate her life, impact and achievements. We had lots of flowers, and music, and chai and samosas – she loved these things and loved hosting people. The languages spoken — English, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali and Farsi — are a testament to Asma’s reach. Below, two reports about the event by students at Emerson College and Wellesley College, with video clips of some speakers’ comments. All video clips online on Vimeo, courtesy Rick Brotman. Cambridge Community Television will run a full video of the event next Saturday. Here’s the slideshow we displayed at the event :

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Pakistan #humanrights: Raza Khan’s disappearance highlights missing persons’ issue

Video made by friends of missing peace activist Raza Mehmood Khan to demand his safe and immediate return. Case details below. How can you help? Scroll to the bottom of this post for suggestions. 

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Pakistan: Another peace activist goes missing #FindRaza

Raza- million signature-VAW

Raza Khan with a copy of the One Million Signature Campaign against violence against women, Pakistan

On Saturday, peace activist Raza Khan, 37, went “missing” in Lahore shortly after he had organised a public discussion about the recent ‘dharna’ (sit-in) on the country’s capital that ended in ignominious surrender to those seeking power in the guise of religion. He is a law-abiding, passionate campaigner for peace in the region particularly India, for gender equality and interfaith harmony — all of these are anathema to the keepers of Pakistan’s ‘ideology’. Please sign the online petition urging the government of Pakistan to find him. Share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #FindRaza. A twitter campaign for Raza is planned at 4 p.m. (Pakistan time today, Dec 5), hashtag #FindRaza. More case details below. Continue reading

New Bhutto fellowship at Harvard accepting applications

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Returns To Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto, arrival in Karachi, 2007. Photo: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

A new fellowship at Harvard University to honor the late Pakistani political leader Benazir Bhutto, member of the Harvard College class of 1973, is now accepting applications.  Continue reading

Movies to watch out for: Rahm (Mercy) and Forbidden Steps

Sharing details of two very relevant films by Pakistanis whose work I’ve seen and liked:  Rahm (Mercy), the movie, in London and Glasgow this Friday

Rahm

…And upcoming, seeking support: Forbidden Steps – a feature film that aims to humanize a faith and a people that have long been misrepresented; writer/director Iram Parveen Bilal’s earlier work includes Josh based on Karachi’s Khana Ghar, and The PHD Movie.

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