With Salmaan Taseer’s first death anniversary approaching, people started talking about that incident again and one of the strangest stories, validating the murder, came from a LUMS graduate (I, of course, do not mean to shame other LUMS graduates, I am just genuinely astounded at the limitations of formal education).
So this guy I know, an acquaintance, said that his friend’s friend – a lawyer and someone he never met – went to see Mumtaz Qadri – the Salmaan Taseer murderer – in his cell to offer his services as a lawyer. According to the lawyer dude, Mumtaz Qadri met him with great humility but refused his services because a big name lawyer had already offered his services which Qadri had accepted earlier. Though heartbroken to not represent Qadri, the lawyer ended up having a cup of tea with the man in the cell. The lawyer was suitably impressed with Qadri and reported that his cell smelled of rose petals and agar battis (Incense sticks). When asked where he gets the rose petals and agar battis from, Qadri said that he does not have either agar batti or rose petals; the smell follows him around wherever he goes because he is blessed by Allah for killing Salmaan Taseer. My acquaintance and his lawyer friend were both convinced afterwards that Qadri was indeed the chosen one and he had done a great service to mankind by killing the former governor of Punjab.
My acquaintance is a graduate of what is now considered to be the best university in Pakistan and works for a telecom company, yet he chose to believe a half baked story when he heard one from a not so reliable source with absolutely no justifiable evidence. When I asked the telecom guy if his lawyer friend had actually checked the cell for any hidden agar battis and rose petals or checked with the guards if the room has been recently swept and the smell of flowers and incense stick lingered on or if there was any smell to begin with, I was given this incredulous look and he said that I will never get it because my faith is not strong enough. I did not say much afterwards because I literally get sick when people take no time in jumping to judge me for my weak or nonexistent faith.
Not just this educated guy who is considered smart by all accounts, but the lawyer, who is supposed to view everything with skepticism, chose to not only believe a murderer, but also perpetuated the myth of Qadri being connected to a higher power with incense sticks, probably embellishing the story to make it even more fantastical to support his argument.
Is there ever any hope of winning an argument based on logic, rationality and clarity of thought in Pakistan? I think not. It was Ayn Rand (no, I am not a neo liberal fangirl of Ms. Rand) who said that when opposite principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side. If the same logic is applied to the conflict between the secularists/humanists and religious bigots/mindless followers in Pakistan, then the irrational side will triumph. Basically, we are in a race to become more irrational and obnoxious to win the argument and those who can be more irrational, fantastical and obnoxious are clearly in the lead.
Here is to fun times ahead.