Asma was protector of downtrodden: Senate, NA

ISLAMABAD: The Senate and the National Assembly passed separate resolutions Monday condoling the death of Asma Jahangir saying that she was the protector of the downtrodden segments of the society.

The Senate did not take up routine business on the opening day of its 273rd session due to the demise of a sitting PPP Senator Saifullah Bangash.

The resolution moved by Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq, was unanimously adopted by the House, which will hold a condolence reference for the leading activist Tuesday morning. The fresh session, marked by long-awaited rain, is the penultimate one prior to retirement of 52 senators on March 11.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani said that a special reference would be held Tuesday to pay tribute to the pro-democracy activist, who championed women's rights throughout her life. “This house expresses its profound grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Asma Jahangir. As a lawyer she remained defender of the human and women rights, rights of religious minorities and children in Pakistan,” the resolution reads.

“Asma Jahangir was unafraid to speak against those attacking minorities and women and was known for taking up court cases of victimised and marginalised sections of society,” it said.

The House acknowledged that Asma was a brave lady, who not only motivated other females to stand up for their rights but also helped them to break the shackles of society’s conservative minds. “The services rendered by late Asma Jahangir would long be remembered and her loss would deeply be mourned. We all share the loss sustained by her family,” it added.

The house also passed separate resolutions eulogizing the services of Qazi Wajid, a noted artist, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, a senior PPP leader from Sindh and sitting provincial minister, and Senator Saifullah Bangash – all of them passed away this month.

Senate chairman also paid rich tributes to late Masroor Hussain, an official of Senate, who passed away last month due to cardiac arrest. He said that with the sad demise of Masroor, the Senate lost an excellent officer. Masroor had also served as director media, Senate.

“A foreign qualified young man who, joined the Senate back in 2014, was an excellent officer. His untimely death at such a young age, is a huge loss for his family as well as the Senate,” Rabbani said.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly passed a resolution recognising the services of human rights activist Asma Jehangir for democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism.

The resolution moved by Syed Naveed Qamar also acknowledged her brave struggle for oppressed segments of society and against rights abuses.

The resolution said that Asma Jehangir defended the rights of voiceless, the poor, the downtrodden and dispossessed and spoke out for the victims of violence and against discrimination on the basis of gender and religion.

Paying tributes to the struggle of Asma Jehangir, the resolution said that being elected representatives, the parliamentarians are committed to protecting and upholding of fundamental human rights.

The members from both sides of the House including Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Syed Naveed Qamar and Ghulam Mustafa Shah of PPP, Dr Arif Alvi of PTI and Mahmood Khan Achakzai of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party also paid tributes to Asma Jahangir.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq grilled senior bureaucrates for not turning up in officials’ galleries during proceedings of the House.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for CAD Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry laid the Capital Development Authority (CDA) Amendment Ordinance, 2018 in the House.

The members from the opposition parties while opposing the CDA (Amendment) Ordinance objected as to why an ordinance was promulgated and the same was not brought before the House in the form a bill.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General paid tribute to Pakistan´s "human rights giant" Asma Jahangir.

Antonio Guterres issued his "heartfelt condolences" to those grieving the 66-year-old lawyer, who co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and also once served as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran.

The Elders, a group of independent global leaders who work together on peace and human rights issues expressed their deep sadness over the passing away of prominent Pakistani lawyer and human rights defender Asma Jahangir. "Asma Jahangir was internationally respected for her pioneering work in her home country and beyond," The Elders said in a statement.