Brussels The International Crisis Group congratulates its board member, Asma Jahangir, on her election as president of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association. Ms. Jahangir, a leading Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist, is the first woman to serve as head of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan’s most influential forum for lawyers.

“This is a very important step in the reinforcement of constitutionalism and the rule of law in Pakistan,” said Louise Arbour, president of the International Crisis Group.

Ms. Jahangir has previously served as an advocate to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and co-chair of South Asians for Human Rights, among many other prominent positions. In 1998, she was appointed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions and later served as the United Nations Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. She has been on the Board of the International Crisis Group since 2002.

As an attorney, Ms. Jahangir has fought for the rights of labourers, imprisoned minorities, women and children. In the 1990s, she was influential in passing legislation to improve the condition of bonded workers. She is a staunch critic of the country's Hudood Ordinance and blasphemy laws that were put in place under General Zia-ul-Haq. For her advocacy, Ms. Jahangir has endured house arrest and imprisonment. Most recently, she was confined to her home after Pakistan’s 2007 imposition of emergency rule. She and her family have faced numerous death threats from militant groups.

Ms. Jahangir is recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Sitara-I-Imtiaz in 1995, the American Bar Association International Human Rights Award in 1992 and the Martin Ennals Award and the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1995.

“Asma Jahangir’s election to the Supreme Court Bar Association could be a game changer in the relationship within Pakistan’s judicial-lawyers' community,” said Samina Ahmed, South Asia Project Director for the International Crisis Group. “It is a positive step forward for the democratic transition.”

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