Kiran Omar


On 11 November, 2012 Senator Iqbal haider breathed his last at a hospital in Karachi after a long illness. Senator Haider had a long, and illustrious career as a legislator, human rights activist and lawyer. He was a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, co-Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan(HRCP), a former Senator, Federal Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs and a former Attorney General. His contribution to the Law, its application and interpretation, was invaluable, and his passion for championing human rights was inspirational.

His early, post-secondary and university education was undertaken in Lahore. He received a Bachelors degree in in Commerce and Economics from Government College, Lahore, going on to read Law at the Lahore Law College and at Lincoln’s Inn, London.

Since an early age, Senator Haider was a passionate defender of human rights and civil liberties, and was one of the founding members of the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in Pakistan. He vehemently opposed to the interference of the Army in the political affairs of Pakistan and was detained several times between 1981 – 1986, for his outspoken criticism, by the Martial Law regime of General Zia ul Haq. He joined the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in 1989 and remained as an active member till 2005, serving in the capacities of Advisor to the Chief Minister of Sindh and Vice President of the PPP, Sindh division and as a member of the Executive Committee of the party.

After leaving the PPP in 2005, Senator Haider embarked upon his journey as a vigorous human rights’ activist and campaigner, and he will be most remembered for his activities in this field.
He was a staunch and fanatic upholder of democracy and the democratic process, and dreamt of a secular and tolerant Pakistan, far removed from religious intolerance and extremism. He was very vocal and outspoken in his repudiation of any kind of intolerance and injustice. He was well known for speaking his mind and not mincing words, often criticising his own party and its decisions. He was known to take principled and uncompromising stands on issues where he perceived injustices, even within his own party.

Much of Iqbal Haider’s human rights work included women’s rights’ abuses like “karo kari” (honor killing), bonded labor, missing persons, to name a few. He will be long remembered for his championing the cause of the marginalized and giving a voice to the voiceless. His active and vigorous presence will be deeply missed in the struggle to stem the rising tide of religious intolerance and social inequality.

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