Mumbai, Nov 11 (IANS) Former Pakistan law minister Iqbal Haider, who died in a Karachi hospital Sunday, was due to visit Mumbai Nov 26 on the fourth anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, an activist said here.
"An active peace proponent between India and Pakistan, Haider was expected to reach here Nov 26 and also attend a felicitation function of journalist-writer-diplomat Kuldip Nayar here Nov 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'.
Six months ago, Haider and a few friends launched the Forum for Secular Pakistan towards this objective.