#RIP- Iqbal Haider was a voice of voiceless people # Obituary


 

Agencies and Jatin Desai

Former Law Minister, and co-chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Iqbal Haider passed away on Sunday in a local hospital here in Karachi. He was suffering from lungs ailment.

His funeral prayer will be offered after Zuhar prayer on Monday at Imambargah Yasrub in phase IV Defence Housing Society, Karachi.

Mr. Iqbal Haider was born on January 14 1945. He was a close associate of Benazir Bhutto. He was elected as a Senator in 1991 and soon became law minister of Pakistan. He also served as an Attorney General of Pakistan. Frustrated with Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), he quit it in 2005 and concentrated on human right issues. He will always be remembered as a man of principle. He was a successful lawyer and he always stood for the cause of downtrodden.

Former Law Minister, and co-chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Iqbal Haider passed away on Sunday in a local hospital here in Karachi. He was suffering from lungs ailment.

His funeral prayer will be offered after Zuhar prayer on Monday at Imambargah Yasrub in phase IV Defence Housing Society, Karachi.

Iqbal Haider was one of the founder member of Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD) & Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). He was a true champion of peace. Till he breathe his last, he was trying for an enduring peace between India and Pakistan. In fact, he was planning to come to Mumbai on 26th November 2012 for Mr. Kuldip Nayar’s  felicitation to be held on 28th November.

He was disturbed with the growing influence of fundamentalism in Pakistan and elsewhere. He never missed an opportunity to criticise Taliban and other extremist forces. He was aspiring for a Secular Pakistan. In fact, in June this year he took an initiative and launched The Forum for Secular Pakistan along with few friends.

Iqbal Haider often used to quote Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s historic delivered in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11 1947. Mr. Jinnah had said”In the course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense… but in the political sense as citizens of the Pakistan.

Mahesh Bhatt was aghast when he called me and so many of his Indian friends. He had a vast friend circle. I have fond memories of him. We travelled together to Coastal Gujarat & Diu in September 2011. The fishermen of Gujarat & Diu had organized his & Justice (R) Nasir Aslam Zahid & Karamat Ali’s felicitation programme. Thanks to their efforts Pakistan had released 442 Indian fishermen in the last week of August & first week of September 2010.  Iqbal Haider appeared for Indian fishermen in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

When Pakistan released 442 Indian fishermen he was equally keen that India must reciprocate. He immediately flew to Delhi along with Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid & Karamat Ali. Before flying to Delhi, he told me, Mahesh Bhatt & Kuldip Nayar that they are coming and you should do ‘miracle’ and see India release Pakistani fishermen. We met UPA Chairperson Sonial Gandhi and then Home Minister P Chidambaram and  could get around 50 Pakistani fishermen released.

He was conferred with Mother Teressa Memorial Award for Social justice in 2010.

The Coastal Gujarat’s travel was hectic. We travelled around 700 km by road. He was not feeling well. He was a diabetic and used to take Insulin. But, he was not tired. Though, he told me that now we are no younger and the programme should not be too hectic. I feel sorry now. He was also one of the leader of the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of judiciary.

He was in the forefront of the movement launched by Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) for the removal of Martial Law. He was arrested at least ten times by then military dictator Zia ul Haq between 1981-1986.

He was also a political commentator. He used to write articles for various English newspapers of Pakistan. Indian media, too, has published many of his articles on the socio-political scenario of Pakistan.

He left us at a time when his presence was needed most. He was a voice of voiceless people.