LAHORE - Democracy as basic spirit of the constitution is the best guardian of the civil rights, said Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar.

Addressing first Asma Jahangir Conference at a local hotel on Saturday, he said only democracy was the future of Pakistan and that would be protected at all cost.

AGHS Legal Aid Cell, Asma Jahangir’s Law Firm, arranged the two-day event in collaboration with the Supreme Court Bar Association under the theme “Justice for Empowerment”. Activists from Pakistan as well as from other countries, ambassadors, lawyers and people from various walks of life participated in the conference that will conclude today (Sunday).

The chief justice said that today the judiciary was different from the past, adding its door today were open for everyone anytime.

Referring to quote of Asma – Justice is a rare commodity in our part of the world… You knock, and you knock, and you knock, and you knock, and you knock, and one day they are going to hear, he said that now there was no need for anyone to knock for so many times for justice. “The doors of justice are open 24/7,” he said.

The CJP spoke about his association and experiences with Asma Jahangir. “Physically she’s not with us, but I can feel her presence by the virtue of your presence, the true lovers of Asma Jahangir,” he said.

The chief justice expressed great reverence for teachers. Referring to the suo motu notice he took in the case of former Vice Chancellor of Punjab University Dr Mujahid Kamran’s arrest, he said that teachers were the most respectable figures of society. Even if they do a mistake, they should be shown no disrespect, he said.

“Asma Jahangir was a teacher, a teacher, a teacher. She was indomitable and did not flinch in her struggle for oppressed and the marginalised. I have learnt the importance and significance of human rights from her. Asma was the finest human rights activist. She has shown us the way and now it is our purpose to alleviate the miseries of oppressed,” he said.

The speakers referred to her as an inspiration for everyone in the world. They said that her death was a great loss. When Asma Jahangir got silent, world became silent. Asma was the symbol of resistance. She was the voice of voiceless; she was a voice of depressed and destitute people. She stood against dictatorship, any kind of oppression and tyranny. Paying tributes to Asma Jahanagir, they vowed to carry her legacy forward. Her sayings were quoted by the speakers. The most repeated quote was “no discrimination, no exceptions just equal justice for all.”

Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said Asma was brave and courageous. “People claim to be courageous but they are not. Those who decide according to their conscience are courageous actually. Asma used to demonstrate bravery and she knew how to work,” he said.

“Unfortunately, our country is facing collective failure of leadership. No one is there to unite the nation,” he said. This failure could be observed in media, judiciary, politics and army as well.

According to him, Pakistan produced only four leaders – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan. He said that selective accountability would not work in the country.

Federal Minster for Information Fawad Chaudhry was all praise for Asma for her services in protection of human rights, supremacy of the constitution and rule of law. He said that corrupt and not the democracy was in danger. Pakistan is going on right direction under the leadership of Imran Khan. He said that Right to Information Act introduced in the KP was considered one of the best in the world. “Now, it would be introduced in whole Pakistan. By using RTI, citizens would know about the name of companies providing steel for Orange Line Metro Train.”

Bushra Gohar said unfortunately politicians were portrayed as villains. Politicians should not be labelled as traitors, she said. Parameters of rule of law needed to be set equally. Centre of control should not be one institution, she said.

According to her, 18th Amendment was miracle for the country which should not be rolled back.

Indian activist and poet Ms Kamla Bhasin said that Asma was a crack in every wall which demise humanity – the walls of religion and gender. “We have to take her legacy forward,” she maintained.

Asma Jahangir’s daughter Ms Sulema Jahangir started the proceedings of the conference by heart touching remarks about her mother. “Remembering her aches us as a family,” she said. Talking about her struggles for making justice available for everyone, she said “We all miss her voice for speaking out for justice, for all the minorities and for women.”

A five-minute documentary on Asma Jahangir’s struggle was also screened. In the documentary Asma was heard saying, “Human rights is not a job, it’s a conviction.” The phrase was greatly admired and repeated by the speakers in their speeches.

The other speakers include IA Rehman, Pir Kaleem Khurshid, President SCBA, Anwarul Haq Pannu, President LHBA, Kamran Murtaza, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council, Ahsan Bhoon, activist from Afghanistan Ms Orzala Nemat, Jean-Francois Cautain, Ambassador EU, Michael Kirby, former Judge High Court Australia, Azam Nazir Tarar, Abid Saqi, Sahlia Manti and Mehmal.