IA Rehman, Pakistan’s iconic human rights defender, dies aged 90  

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LAHORE, April 12 (PTI): Eminent Pakistani human rights activist and journalist IA Rehman, a strong voice for the country’s minorities including Christians and Hindus and an advocate of peace between India and Pakistan, died here on Monday at the age of 90, according to his family.

Rehman, who was born in 1930 in Haryana in the pre-partitioned India, worked as an editor for various newspapers in his journalistic career spanning more than 65 years and was a founding member of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. According to his family, he was diabetic and suffered from high blood pressure, the Dawn newspaper reported.

“He will be deeply missed. He was a rare kind of individual, not just because of his professional capabilities but as a human being,” the report quoted as saying human rights activist and former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan HRCP Zohra Yusuf.

Rehman worked as director of HRCP for two decades and was also the group’s secretary-general till December 2016, Geo news reported.

He was a strong supporter of the country’s minorities, including Christians and Hindus, and campaigned for amendments to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws. The author of three books also opposed military dictators and fought for the rule of law and democracy.

Tributes poured in from all quarters as news of Rehman’s death spread.

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, currently in Germany on an official visit, said the country has lost a ‘true icon’.

“Pakistan has lost a true icon today with the passing of IA Rehman. A staunch advocate and activist for Human Rights and an intellectual, IA Rehman sahib leaves behind a rich legacy that speaks of tolerance, inclusion, equality and dignity,” he said in a tweet.

Senator Sherry Rehman called Rehman an icon of integrity, “standing steadfast for every single fundamental right, every single democratic value in the worst of times.”

Journalist Nasim Zehra called the activist the “vanguard of Pakistan’s democratic struggle.”

Human rights activist Ali Dayan Hasan termed Rehman a “human rights warrior, and a visionary leader.”

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