KARACHI - Former law minister and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) ex-chairman Iqbal Haider passed away on Sunday early morning at a city hospital.

Iqbal Haider was born on January 14, 1945, in Agra (India) and migrated to Pakistan in 1947. He received his early education and bachelor degree in commerce from Government College of Commerce and Economics in 1964. He did law from the Punjab University Law College, Lahore.

While practising as a lawyer, Iqbal Haider joined Pakistan People’s Party in 1988 and worked as a Sindh chief minister adviser from January 1989 to February 1990. Later, he was elected as a senator in 1991. He served as federal law minister during the second tenure of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in 1993-1994. He also worked as the attorney general of Pakistan.

The late Iqbal Haider worked for PPP as president of Karachi division, vice president of the party’s Sindh chapter and a member of the Central Executive Committee.

By dint of his activeness and dedication to work for the party, he was supposed to be a close aide of Benazir Bhutto who picked him as federal law minister.

During his tenure as the law minister, Iqbal Haider tried to amend blasphemy law procedure, which caused uproar. Later, he resigned as the federal minister. He was a great lawyer and a relentless supporter of human rights in the country.

Iqbal Haider was also a leading figure in the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) and was jailed several times during the military rule of General Ziaul Haq.

He believed in liberal thoughts and was a voice for voiceless people in the country. He worked hard for human rights and missing persons as well as against honour killings and bonded labour. He also voiced against religious extremism and Taliban’s tyranny.

During the senator, Iqbal Haider worked as member of the Senate Standing Committees on Defence, Defence Production and Aviation and on Information and Broadcasting and on Culture, Sports and Tourism and Women Development and Youth Affairs and also on Functional Committee on Human Rights. Iqbal Haider left Pakistan People’s Party in 2005 and worked as chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). In that capacity, he worked for missing persons and minorities.

President Asif Ali Zardari, Assefa Bhutto Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, PML-N leader Marvi Memon and others expressed grief and sorrow over the death of Iqbal Haider.

Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain expressed his deep sense of grief and sorrow over the untimely death of Iqbal Haider. Paying rich tributes to him, he said Haider was an active human rights worker, a great personality and a true leader who always fought for the rights of the poor.

Iqbal Haider was suffering from lungs ailment. His funeral prayer will be offered after Zohr prayers on Monday (today) at Imambargah Yasrub in Phase-IV, Defence Housing Society Karachi.