Are we next in line after Salmaan Taseer?

Just when you thought you have seen it all and are now uncomfortably numb, something else jolts you and makes you wonder if indeed you are living in a horrendous wonderland because none of it makes any sense at all.

Jamat-ud-dawa, a supposedly “banned” outfit which ideally should not be issuing any statements at all has also jumped in and said that Salmaan Taseer’s assassin be tried under Shariah courts. Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Maulana Amir Hamza, who is the convener of Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool (and we thought there was just one outfit fighting for the noble cause of khatm-e-nabuat) not only wants Qadri be tried in accordance with the Islamic law and the “sentiments of Muslims” he is all praises for the maulvis who refused to lead funeral prayers for the slain governor.

His statement can also be construed as a veiled threat to the judges presiding over the case as he commanded them to respect the wishes of the people who think like him. His exact words are, “The courts must respect our sentiments,” and we all know what happen to people who not pay attention to such threats. Sherry Rehman has already been warned by none less than the interior minister himself to leave the country. Those of us who choose to stay here should be well aware than they can come for us anytime.

PS: A few of my readers emailed me and asked me why I do not use the prefix of Shaheed with Salmaan Taseer if I respect his stance so much. The answer is quite simple, it is our national obsession with martyrdom that has given birth to crackpot fanatics like Qadri. I am sure we can do with a little less martyrdom and more pragmatism. 

PPS: Pasted below is the reworked version of my previous post for Express Tribune.

What irony!

Just a few weeks before Governor Salmaan Taseer was assassinated brutally, he said that illiterate maulvis cannot decide if he is a Muslim or not. True, but they sure could decide to spew venom against him in Friday sermons across the country and gun for his blood, which they did. They issued edicts against him, they burned his effigies and they called for his blood and, as a result, Salmaan Taseer is no longer among us. He was killed because of his liberal views and his stand against the blasphemy laws, as confessed by his murderer.

Governor Taseer was probably the highest profile victim of the blasphemy law. He was shot dead because he believed  all citizens should be treated fairly. He decided to support a poor Christian woman on death row and he was chastised, ridiculed and threatened for supporting minorities. If there is justice in this country, every person who issued fatwa against him, who protested against his opinion and who burned his effigies and who incited bigotry on television should be named in the FIR and held accountable for his murder. In addition, all PPP ministers playing to the populist gallery, who defended the blasphemy law, should be hauled along with the other culprits.

In a society where dogma is the currency to get populist support, Salmaan Taseer was a refreshing rationalist and humanist. His death will be mourned because he was a voice of sanity, he was one of the few good men who wanted similar rights for everyone irrespective of their religion, caste, gender and ethnicity. He was an entrepreneur, a politician, a great wit and a positive man who believed in this country. After his brutal murder, there are many of us who are not too hopeful about this country, which will now be branded as one where people cannot dare to speak their mind. If the felicitations about his death are any indication, we are a truly doomed lot that celebrates a murder most foul.

Anyone who thought that the governor’s dreadful demise will bring a positive change, needs to wake up and smell the putrid cesspool that passes as our society. Members of the Jamaat-e-Ahle Sunnat Pakistan have asked the good Muslims of the country not to offer funeral prayers of Governor Taseer and have paid tribute to his murderer. Taseer’s death sends this message to the handful of Pakistanis who are openly liberal: that they need to get their act together or they could be next in line to have their guts splattered on the roadside by a fanatic who thinks doing so will take him to heaven.

Governor Taseer, may you rest in peace. You were a brave, brave man and you will always be remembered as one.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2011.

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  • So what will the Shariat Court do? Acquit him?

    Technically there shouldn’t be any activity going on from the banned outfits but they are operating in the broad daylight without any fear. See where the problem lies.

  • Just wanted to say, dont you think the term ‘shaheed’ gets thrown around a little too much? There is Divine Promise specifically for the martyrs and it is sad to see that the term is used with every single person who gets killed ‘unjustly’. Just because they died by some fanatic, while they supported some good does not mean they are mujahids! I am not trying to demean or devalue the beliefs and efforts of Salman Taseer, (i COMPLETELY respect and admire that he stood up for what was RIGHT)…but I do believe it is not for us to say, and we need to be careful labeling people like that..

    Although I know you did not use the prefix in your article, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share the thought because our nation seems to have conjured up its own idea of what it means…


    Common Cents

  • My sympathies with you all in Pakistan on the demise of a moderate leader. Such people are in short supply the world over and more so in your country. It already is a task close to impossible considering the gravity of the situation but I hope the rationalists and secularists among you find the courage to stand up and fight the scourge before you are all forced to become spectators and watch your country get taken over by fanatics.

    I am an India a label thrust on me by virtue of my birth but at heart I am a global citizen and it is my desire to see all my fellow human beings living in prosperity. I wish to see Pakistan junk the path of religion and concentrate on daily matters of material comfort. What is the point in religion when basic needs are not met? This is the same thought I have on my country too and many like me promote rational thought in whatever way possible. We are getting there and I hope you guys do too. I wish to see a prosperous and successful Pakistan.

    The path to progress will start with clipping the wings of religion. We in India have not given teeth to religious sentiments. It is strictly kept out of public life at least by law. As a citizen one must have the liberty to speak up against religion. We do not have blasphemy laws in India. Some obscure British laws from pre-independence but nothing that cannot be challenged. I strive to see India as liberal as some of the European countries. Religion should not be immune to criticism and ridicule. I hope you in Pakistan too will someday enjoy such freedom

  • There is a hadith (unfortunately a “weak one”):

    “The ink of scholars (used in writing) is weighed on the Day of Judgement with the blood of martyrs and the ink of scholars out-weighs the blood of martyrs.”

    With that in mind,
    a. I hope you are **not** next.
    b. I hope that anyone who even contemplates such an act realizes that blogging counts as ink and blogger counts as scholar.

    Unfortunately, that is too much thinking for the mad people who do these things. So, take care!

  • What is your stance Tazeen, you havent made it clear.

    Do you want to completely do away with the Blasphemy law?

    Do you think it is ok for people to ridicule and insult a figure loved by the majority of Pakistanis?


  • Tazeen,calm down lady.I agree that mullahs suck and they suck big time but on this particular issue you are going a bit overboard.You are bit unfair on mullahs to say the least.Despite all the propaganda and the islamophobia created after the Taseer’s assasination some sane people managed to see the fact that NO authentic and scholar of the first rank from any school of thought issued a fatwa of the killing of the salman taseer, despite the fact that they condemned Taseer’s action of openly supporting Asia bibi while the case was still in the court.The issue is hijacked by the Mullahs only after the murder of Taseer.It was almost a dead issue(Taseer’s alleged blasphamious act)at the time of his murder.

    Qadri is a lunatic who is obviously the product of the climate of intolerence that we created during the 80s with the help of the dearest to all the Liberals and Secualars like me the united states of America.

    Though i personaly believe that aboloishing and in fact avoiding any kind of legislation based on the deductive religious thinking is the way to go.This derivating approach is the root of all evils no matter whether we end up deriving laws compatible to the liberal and secular values but the fact is that the moment a debate takes the the religious turn all sorts of mullahs hijack it and the deeply learned scholars like Javed Ahmed Ghamdi end up being at the recieving end.So it is pointless to expect that any mOderate and liberal interpretation of Islamic laws has the chance to succeed in Pakistan no matter how logical and sound grounds it have according to the learned readings of Islam by learned scholars like Ghamdi.

    Secularism is the only Mehdi we need at the moment.


  • salman taseer, was he really? all those things you said?? “…a great wit and a positive man who believed in this country…”
    this aasia bibi case aside, he wasn’t really all that, just a politician like anyone else. i’m not sure glorifying someone just because of the way he died really makes sense.
    i’ve talked to many who’re surprisingly not averse to the idea of a vigilante like qadri. i think its because they think some sort of justice was served. its not exactly intangible that even killing someone on death row is still murder; so irrespective of whether ST was right or wrong to say what he said, taking matters into ones own hands cannot be condoned.
    and on another note, i dont think qadri should be hanged, a life-sentence would be the more rational option; kill one qadri and a dozen more will suddenly spring up…

  • Just an FYI …. JuD is not a “banned”organisation in Pakistan !!!

  • “we can do with a little less martyrdom and more pragmatism.” I would go a step further and say if each one selfishly pursued what was in his best self interest we’d probably do better than taking on causes that we are ignorant/ ill informed/ misinformed about. It is this ‘taking on’ that oftentimes results in so called martyrdom which truly is an unfortunate and unnecessary ending of a life that had potential to contribute in a more meaningful way.
    Martyrdom is an overrated phenomenon that simply appeases the conscience of bystanders who would like to believe that death brings meaning to life, and I question that. Death is the culmination of life. It is life that holds potential, is dynamic and therefore promising and productive. Martyrdom ignores all that and eulogizes the strangulation of life so how can that be logical.
    Tazeen, I can’t agree more with you that we need ‘more pragmatism’.

  • Hi Tazeen,

    Reading about what is happening in Pakistan makes me doubt that humans are the crown of creation.

    As long as the vast majority in your country does not bid farewell to religion, you’ll be doomed. There are big problems facing all of us and only clear minds are able to cope. The befuddled ones go under. Nature detests bunglers.

    Cheers, Tazeen

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