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Rights Defender I.A. Rehman Dies At 90, Pakistan Mourns 'A True Icon’


I.A. Rehman (center) was director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. (file photo)

Prominent Pakistani human rights defender and columnist I.A. Rehman has died at the age of 90, prompting an outpouring of grief and a wave of tributes to "a true icon."

Rehman’s family said on April 12 that he passed away in the eastern city of Lahore after spending his life defending human rights and fighting for the rule of law and democracy in his country.

He was diabetic and suffered from high blood pressure, it said.

Tributes poured in on social media, with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi saying Pakistan had lost “a true icon.”

Rehman regularly contributed articles to Pakistani newspapers and was director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), which called him a "titan of human rights."

Among other things, Rehman campaigned for changes to Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, which rights groups say are being used to settle personal scores and intimidate religious minorities.

He was also an advocate of peace between Pakistan and India, the two South Asian nuclear rivals who have fought three wars since 1947.

Qureshi tweeted that Rehman “leaves behind a rich legacy that speaks of tolerance, inclusion, equality and dignity.”

Senator Sherry Rehman of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said the man "was an icon of integrity, standing steadfast for every single fundamental right, every single democratic value in the worst of times."

"Pakistan will not be the same without him," she added.

According to the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, “His voice was a pillar for human rights and will inspire countless future generations.”

Rehman is survived by three sons and two daughters. He is expected to be buried in Lahore later on April 12.

With reporting by AP and Dawn
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