Asma Jahangir was nothing short of an icon. The Pakistani activist and human rights lawyer passed away at the age of 66 in Lahore due to cardiac arrest. Her passing on Feb. 11 is being mourned as a huge loss for Pakistan with and leaves behind a greater sense of uncertainty in the country.
Here are five things you need to know about her:
1. She was a trailblazer from an early age.
Her first job as a lawyer was setting up her own firm in family law in 1980. Joining forces with her sister Hina Jilani and a couple of friends, the firm focused on divorce, maintenance payments and custodial cases.
2. Her activist spirit was also born young.
The daughter of liberal politician Malik Ghulam Jilani, Jahangir was drawn to the courtroom since she was a teenager. After her father was taken in detention during General Yahya Khan’s military control of Pakistan in 1971, she filed a petition as a teen in the Lahore High Court. Despite her case being dismissed, she appealed to the Supreme Court. After Khan’s dictatorship ended, her father’s detention was announced illegal.
3. She broke barriers.
Jahangir became the first woman to lead Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association. She also co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Women’s Action Fund.
4. Her fearless attitude got her nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
As an activist, Jahangir fought for women’s rights and democracy in Pakistan. She fiercely opposed the country’s infamous blasphemy laws. Whether it was for Ahmadis, who are a taboo even for the most liberal Pakistanis, or Christians and Hindus, Jahangir was never afraid to defend and stand in solidarity with fellow Pakistanis. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
5. Her sense of justice and human rights irked the Pakistani government.
Jahangir was arrested in 1983 while campaigning against military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq. She was arrested in 2005, under the leadership of President Pervez Musharraf, at an event for women’s rights and again in 2007 when she was put under house arrest for her stance against his dismissal of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. Her criticism of the military led to an assassination plot by Pakistani officials, according to U.S. intelligence groups who apparently found evidence of a plan in 2012.
Rest in peace dear Asma. To God we belong and to Him we shall return.