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ICC Note:

Pakistani Christians are remembering the life and work of Choudry Naeem Shakir, a Christian High Court lawyer that spent his career fighting for the right of the Christian community. Among Shakir’s long list of achievements, the High Court appeal for Asia Bibi, a Christian accused of blasphemy, is among is most important work. Although the High Court confirmed Bibi’s death sentence, Shakir’s courage to take on the case amidst constant threat was commendable. Shakir will be missed by the Christian community of Pakistan who will remember him as a tireless defender of human rights. 

10/10/2017 Pakistan (Asia News) – Choudry Naeem Shakir, a Christian lawyer who defended Asia Bibi, died this weekend in US. He was 73. He had undergone a surgery for prostate cancer last year and was in Louisiana for treatment where he his death was caused by cardiac arrest on Oct 7.

Since his student life, Shakir joined the progressive politics and took part in working class movement. He was a founding member of both Awami (Public) Workers Party AWP in 60s and Socialist Party of Pakistan in 1971. He was also deputy general-secretary of the Workers Party Pakistan and remained associated with the Pakistan Trade Union Federation. The Supreme Court Lawyer was also editor of the oldest socialist monthly magazine ‘Awami Jamhuriat’ (Public Democracy) being published for 49 years.

In his political struggle, which spans over half a century, Shakir provided legal aid to the religious minorities, workers and poor against police brutality especially in blasphemy cases. He remained the former counsel of Asia Bibi, the Christian mother condemned to death by hanging for alleged blasphemy and is in jail since 2009, for a year.

Last month, Bibi was nominated for European Union’s high-status award edition 2017 of the prestigious “Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought”. The Prize is an initiative of the EU Parliament and is awarded to individuals or groups battling to defend fundamental human rights.

“She has no idea about this award,” Joseph Nadeem, executive director of the Renaissance Education Foundation told AsiaNews. The foundation is presently supporting her husband and two daughters in Youhanabad area of Lahore. Her family visited Bibi last week at the women’s prison in the city of Multan, Punjab province.

Fr. Pascal Robert, a professor at Karachi’s National Catholic Institute of Theology paid homage to the activist in his Facebook post.

“I knew Mr. Nadeem Shakir since 1985 when I was appointed in Lahore. Being fresh out from the seminary formation, my first encounter with the community made be experience the suffering of the brick kiln families, people pushed out from plots where residing for 50 years, being slaves of landlords, impoverished by the greed and corruption of the rich,” he said.

“I met Mr. Nadeem Shakir through a common friend at his office behind the High Court and he became my formatter in knowledge, experience and commitment for the human rights. I was always touched by his simplicity, meekness, sincerity and deep concern and commitment for the rights of the struggling majority of people in the society.”

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