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Pakistan peacenik Iqbal Haider dies weeks before Mumbai visit

Sunday, 11 November 2012 - 4:49pm IST | Place: Karachi | Agency: IANS
Deeply disturbed by the growing influence of fundamentalism in Pakistan and elsewhere, Haider never missed an opportunity to criticise Taliban and other extremist forces in his quest for a 'secular Pakistan'.

Former Pakistani law minister Iqbal Haider Sunday died in a Karachi hospital following a lung ailment, a media report said. He was 67. His funeral will take place Monday in Karachi.

A close associate of the late Benazir Bhutto, Haider joined the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in 1988. After obtaining his law degree from Punjab University, Haider was elected senator in 1991 and was law minister 1993-94. He was also the attorney general of Pakistan.

Haider, who died in a Karachi hospital Sunday, was due to visit Mumbai on November 26, the fourth anniversary of the terror attacks, an activist said here. "An active peace proponent between India and Pakistan, Haider was expected to reach here on November 26, apart from attending a felicitation function of journalist-writer-diplomat Kuldip Nayar here November 28," Jatin Desai, India-Pakistan peace activist told IANS Sunday.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt called Desai to confirm the news of 67-year-old Haider's demise in a Karachi hospital Sunday morning, following lung disease and cardiac arrest.

"A close associate of the late Benazir Bhutto, Haider was one of the founder members of Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD) and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). He was a true champion of peace. Till he breathed his last, he was trying for an enduring peace between India and Pakistan," Desai said in his tribute.

Desai said an ailing Haider, along with retired Pakistan judge Justice Nasir Aslam and trade unionist Karamat Ali, travelled a gruelling 700 km by road and were felicitated by the fisherfolk of Gujarat, Daman & Diu September 2011.

"It was due to the untiring efforts of Haider, Aslam and Ali that 442 Indian fishermen in Pakistan had been released the previous year. They also met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and then home minister P Chidambaram and succeeded in getting 50 Pakistani fishermen released as a reciprocal gesture," Desai said.

Deeply disturbed by the growing influence of fundamentalism in Pakistan and elsewhere, Haider never missed an opportunity to criticise Taliban and other extremist forces in his quest for a 'secular Pakistan'.

Only six months ago, Haider and a few friends launched the Forum for Secular Pakistan towards this objective.


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