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.
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.