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Asma Jahangir, Activist Who Stood Up To Politicians, Dies At 66

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A woman who spoke up for human rights in Pakistan has died. Asma Jahangir led a defiant life, challenging dictators and generals even after she was threatened and jailed. Here's NPR's Diaa Hadid.

DIAA HADID, BYLINE: The last days of Jahangir's life tell you a lot about her. She was fighting a case in the Supreme Court. On Twitter, she took Pakistan's tabloid media to task for sensationalizing the rape and murder of a girl. She spoke in support of Pashtuns, an ethnic group who've been staging a sit-in against discrimination. Jahangir was a tiny, witty chain-smoker with an outsized personality. Her supporters would say she had an outsized moral compass. Here she is speaking to NPR's Steve Inskeep back in 2011.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ASMA JAHANGIR: I think I have lived enough in this country where I can say what I think is true and which is the voice of my conscience.

HADID: During her decades-long career, Jahangir defended women, religious minorities, enslaved workers and prisoners. She defended free speech, even representing media outlets and politicians who incited against her. She spoke out against extremism at risk of her own life. She was imprisoned a few times, once for standing up to Pakistan's most ruthless military dictator. She demanded that a woman's legal testimony have the same value as a man's. On Sunday, Jahangir passed away after cardiac arrest. She was 66. One Pakistani lawyer on Twitter summoned the feelings of many here. He wrote, Asma Jahangir was the bravest human being I ever knew. Without her, the world is less. Diaa Hadid, NPR News, Karachi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.