Remembering Salmaan Taseer

Published: January 1, 2012

The writer teaches physics and political science at LUMS and is a former head of the Physics Department at Quaid-i-Azam University. He holds a D.Phil in nuclear physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Governor Salmaan Taseer died at the hands of a religious fanatic on January 4 last year. Fearlessly championing a deeply unpopular cause, this brave man had sought to revisit the country’s blasphemy law which, as he saw it, was yet another means of intimidating Pakistan’s embattled religious minorities. This law — which is unique in having death as the minimum penalty — would have sent to the gallows an illiterate Christian peasant woman, Aasia Bibi, who stood accused by her Muslim neighbours after a noisy dispute. Taseer’s publicly-voiced concern for human life earned him 26 high-velocity bullets from one of his security guards, Malik Mumtaz Qadri. The other guards watched silently.

In this long, sad, year more has followed. Justice Pervez Ali Shah, the brave judge who ultimately sentenced Taseer’s murderer in spite of receiving death threats, has fled the country. Aasia Bibi is rotting away in jail, reportedly in solitary confinement and in acute psychological distress. Shahbaz Taseer, the governor’s son, was abducted in late August — presumably by Qadri’s sympathisers. He remains untraceable. Shahbaz Bhatti, another vocal voice against the blasphemy law, was assassinated weeks later on March 2.

Political assassinations occur everywhere. But the Pakistani public reaction to Taseer’s assassination horrified the world. As the news hit the national media, spontaneous celebrations erupted in places; a murderous unrepentant mutineer had been instantly transformed into a national hero. Glib-tongued television anchors sought to convince viewers that Taseer had brought ill unto himself. Religious political parties did not conceal their satisfaction, and the imam of Lahore’s Badshahi Masjid declined the government’s request to lead the funeral prayers. Rehman Malik, the interior minister, sought to curry favour with religious forces by declaring that, if need be, he would “kill a blasphemer with my own hands”.

In psychological terms, the reaction of a substantial part of Pakistan’s lawyers’ community was still more disturbing. Once again, they made history. Earlier it had been for their Black Coat Revolution, apparently welcome evidence that Pakistani civil society was well and thriving. But this time it was for something far less positive. Television screens around the world showed the nauseating spectacle of hundreds of lawyers feting a murderer, showering rose petals upon him, and pledging to defend him pro-bono.

Another phalanx of lawyers, headed by Khawaja Sharif, former Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, rose up to constitute Qadri’s defence team. In his court testimony, a smugly-defiant assassin declared that he had executed Allah’s will. Justice Sharif agreed, saying that Qadri had “merely done his duty as a security guard”. He said it was actually Taseer who had broken the law of the land by attempting to defend a person convicted of blasphemy and, in doing so, had “hurt the feelings of crores of Muslims”.

Taseer’s was a high-profile episode, but there are countless other equally tragic ones which receive little public attention. Surely it is time to reflect on what makes so many Pakistanis disposed towards celebrating murder, lawlessness, and intolerance. To understand the kind of psychological conditioning that has turned us into nasty brutes, cruel both to ourselves and to others, I suggest that the reader sample some of the Friday khutbas (sermons) delivered across the country’s estimated 250,000 mosques.

It is surely impossible to hear all khutbas, but a few hundred ones have been recorded on tape by researchers, transcribed into Urdu, translated into English, and categorised by subject at www.mashalbooks.org. Since there was no conscious bias in selecting the mosques, they can be reasonably assumed to be representative examples.

Often using abusive language, the mullahs excoriate their enemies: America, India, Israel, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Shias, and Qadianis. Before appreciative crowds, they breathe fire against the enemies of Islam and modernity. Music is condemned to be evil, together with life insurance and bank interest. In frenzied speeches they put women at the centre of all ills, demand that they be confined to the home, covered in purdah, and forbidden to use lipstick or go to beauty parlours.

But the harshest words are reserved for the countless “deviant” Muslims. Governor Taseer was considered one. The former minister for foreign affairs, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, is another. In a foul-mouthed speech that the reader can hear on the above website, Qureshi is denounced as “haramzada” by Maulana Altafur Rehman Shah of Muhammadi Masjid in Gujrat and described as a “keeper [mujawar] of graves”. Quoting Nawa-e-Waqt, this maulana of the Ahl-e-Hadith school calls Qureshi a lapdog who stands with his “cheek on the cheek of Hillary Clinton”. What, he asks, could be a matter of greater shame? Parliamentarian Jamshed Dasti, also accused of grave worship, is harshly condemned for being unable to name the first five verses of the Holy Quran.

One presumes that most listeners have enough intelligence to ignore such violent fulminations. But at times their effects are deadly. One such sermon, according to Qadri’s recorded testimony, was the turning point for him. He had heard a fiery cleric, Qari Haneef, at a religious gathering in his neighborhood, Colonel Yousuf Colony, on December 31, 2010. It is then, says Qadri, that he made up his mind to kill his boss. Qadri had participated in the gathering in his official uniform, reciting the naat in praise of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). His official gun had been slung around his shoulder at the meeting. Four days later, he fulfilled his goal.

To be sure, not all khutbas are ugly and violent. But even if 10 percent are — and the data suggests this is an underestimate — that still makes for roughly 25,000 dangerous ones every week. A civilised society cannot sustain this for too long. Surely, the Pakistani state will sooner or later have to come up with a mechanism for regulating what can be said at religious gatherings. A possible model might be that of Egypt, where khutbas are pre-recorded and approved by the ulema of Jamia Al-Azhar. Without some agreed form of control, Pakistan shall sink ever deeper into religious anarchy and fanaticism.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd,  2012.

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Reader Comments (101)

  • MRS QASIM
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:26AM

    Thank you Professor Hoodbhoy for writing what many think but are afraid to admit. The current disastrous situation in Pakistan has been created by these hateful clerics. Their vitriolic sermons responsible for the untimely deaths of scores of pakistanis. They MUST be stopped. Thank you again and please stay safe. RIP Salman Taseer and Shabaz bhatti.

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  • Pakistani in US
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:27AM

    When pak-studies and islamiyat books use to say that ‘Pakistan is the laboratory of Islam’, I never understood it. But now I do, and I think the ‘experiment’ has gone horribly wrong and contamination is widespread. It’s either cure or kill. No other solution.

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  • Munir Khan
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:29AM

    It is not just Egypt but across most of the Arab world including Saudi Arabia that Khutba’s are approved by the central government.The government issues each week guidelines for the themes of that weeks khutba, those that deviate from that script are sanctioned or removed.The unfettered right of any mullah to spout his extremist and deviant interpretation of Islam which is at the root of many of the problems that we face today.

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  • Shehzad
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:29AM

    Dear Sir, Pakistan has been handed over to Mullah and Military badmaashs. They can do whatever they want. I am struggling to defend the martyrdom of Taseer Sahib as entire pakistan has become a hard-liner. My learned friends call him as a blasphemer. They are inspired from friday speeches and don’t know about Islam. Maulvi knows how to guide their fickle mentality.

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  • Shehzad
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:34AM

    Happy to read your article. Comemorating the sacrifice of Salman Taseer for a good cause. He was a real hero. We should sing his songs of bravery and valiance.

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  • Parvez
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:42AM

    Excellent and I feel an honest assessment of the situation. Your suggestion at the end is both needed and doable. It’s just the sheer lack of will possibly due to fear, that prevents the authorities from even thinking in the right direction.

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  • Rakesh
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:45AM

    “Surely, the Pakistani state will sooner or later have to come up with a mechanism for regulating what can be said at religious gatherings. A possible model might be that of Egypt, where khutbas are pre-recorded and approved by the ulema of Jamia Al-Azhar.”

    I think the Pakistani state should not be depended upon in this matter. Instead the onus lies on opinion makers and people at large, to self-regulate. You cannot stop violent content by censorship, you can make it less acceptable by building effective, popular, counter-arguments. In the longer run, that is the course of action that needs to be taken.

    But my good sir, bravo for coming out and writing this piece.

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  • Adil
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:46AM

    Another way of solving the bigotry problem with the mullahs is to produce a licensing system for them and only those with a valid license allowed to speak publicly. The licensing authority should be federal and composed of people from all walks of life including women. People serving on the licensing authority board should be appointed by the parliament be approved by the supreme court to ensure that their appointment follows agreed protocols.

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  • Victim
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:46AM

    Education Emergency is Required in Pakistan in order to get rid of all this that has earned us a very bad reputation across the Globe.
    Qadri Should be Hanged infront of Masses so it can be a lesson for the people of his type.

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  • Max
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:20AM

    Murder of Governor Salmaan Taseer was a very sad event in the political history of Pakistan. He was a voice of reason in a society which has taken a wrong turn for last few few decades (actually since its inception).
    Adding insult to the injury was the support from right-wing lawyers. You mention their number as substantial, I am not sure how substantial? My guess was it is a small fragment but I could be wrong. Anyway, once a while I wonder, where they got their educational diplomas and if education added anything significant to their lives?
    As for Mr. Sharif Khawaja, according to a friend, he was a known—— whatever.
    Please do not pay much attention to these cheap mullahs whether in Gujrat or somewhere else. They are just cheap bazzaris boys who make their living by adding misery to others’ lives. Regret to use this type of words but I am running out of patience.
    May Mr. Taseer rest in peace. I am equally worried about the young Taseer and hope this new year unites him with his family. My thoughts are with Taseer family.

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  • Farhan Gilgiti
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:28AM

    Why would the MMMA (Mullah-Media-Military Alliance) want anything to that effect? The strategic depth doctrine (which has the Sunni-state doctrine at its roots) is the major evil.

    Pakistan needs to rise above sectarian hatred, at least, to prosper. But these illiterate Mullahs, having reserved high-sounding names and titles for themselves, would not let that help.

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  • khurram kaleem
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:42AM

    Bravo article
    we must follow egyptian or turkish model.
    The current nexus of mullah and military is most dangerous.i hope the courts will be used by our politicas to tame both our religous and military forces.

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  • Mahrukh Khan Irfan
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:45AM

    We Miss A Lot !

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  • mansoon
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:45AM

    Hi Dr Hoodbbhoy. you still dare living in pakistan. hat off man that you still dare write all these.

    i am your admirer and always try reading your thoughts . i do feel that not much space is given to you in mainstream newspapers and talk shows.

    pakistan mainstream newspapers and talkshows are full of people who talk about 1000 year of muslim rule on subcontinent , tell people that they dont belong to indus valley civilization , they had come to conquer and rule from west asia/saudi arabia and that in very near future muslim rule is going to come back.Recommend

  • ArifQ
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:55AM

    Doctor Sahib has started 2012 with a much needed ‘bang’, excellent article. Regulated Friday sermons are also part of the Arab GCC States where mosques are for prayers and Government sanctioned activities only. This self-righteous arrogance which has been cultivated in Pakistan is in clear violation of the constitution where all citizens have the right to practice and promote their religious beliefs. Therefore, if the minorities are persecuted by religious extremists then the state and Judiciary have failed in protecting Pakistani citizens fundamental rights. Another reason for these brazen attacks by extremists can be attributed to establishment patronization who have used them as their second line of defense. Doctor Sahib, please take care and have a great new year.

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  • Jan 2, 2012 - 1:56AM

    Great column. So much hatred is preached, and so many people influenced. What a tragedy of trust.

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  • Pro Bono Publico
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:16AM

    You also need to render a remembrance for Pakistan (butchered by ZA Bhutto) and remembrance for democracy and the nation, butchered by the Plunder Pakistan Party (PPP)

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  • JustAnotherPakistani
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:47AM

    What are hurt feeling compared to cold, blooded, brutal murder? For a former CJ of the Punjab to hold such repugnant views is shocking. How did he rise up the ranks to become a chief justice? I admire Mr. Dasti for using his faculties for better purposes than what these mullahs require.

    It’s time that all Pakistanis stood up and put an end to this brutal and medieval law, and pushed the mullah’s to the fringe of society where they belong. Who will rid us of these meddlesome (murderous) mullahs?
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  • hedgefunder
    Jan 2, 2012 - 3:09AM

    @Victim:
    Does even the Govt or the Army have guts to conduct such act in today’s Pakistan????
    Sadly, this situation is creation of your past masters in power, for what? Yes for Saudi money !!!
    Where does Islam and wahabism come into equation then???
    Yes the Mushrooming of Madrassas and complete neglect of normal education too !!!
    Pakistani leaders, past and present have so much vision that, they themselves do not know the end product of their actions !

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  • Zorawar
    Jan 2, 2012 - 3:53AM

    While heaping praise on his friend the late SalmanTaseer Prof. Hoodbhoy may also recall the incident reported by Aatish Taseer: One of the elder Taseer’s daughters, in all innocence, confided to Aatish her relief that the latter was not a “black Hindu.” Any Indian father from a decent family (as the Taseers are perceived to be) would have taught his offspring an unforgettable lesson if the child expressed equivalent bigotry against Muslims. Yet the Taseer girl clearly learned such sentiments from her family.

    Most Pakistanis won’t acknowledge the difference but nevertheless it remains a fundamental reason why Pakistan and India are so different. Pakistan’s “best” people can exhibit liberal tendencies when in a position of powee but remain incapable of giving up their core bigotry and racism.

    Instead of blaming mullahs who are at any rate honest about their feelings, fine people like Hoodbhoy and Taseer might hold up a mirrror to their own class. That is as unlikely to happen as Pakistan embracing the idea that all humans are created equal.

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  • Dr Kadar Khan FRCS
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:00AM

    Professor Hoodbhoy,

    I wish there are more people in this country like you. It is the mullahs supported by our military and some weak opportunistic politicians this country has become like this, beyond redemption.
    I want the pakistan dreamed by the Quaid and not by the mullahs and the generals who are destroying this country..

    Many many thanks

    Dr Kadar Khan FRCS

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  • numbersnumbers
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:25AM

    In the not to distant future, Pakistan’s obsession with hate against the rest of the world will result in the Pakistani Passport being judged “not valid for entry” by that very same “rest of the world!

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  • Jan 2, 2012 - 4:50AM

    “A civilised society cannot sustain this for too long”

    Isn’t that point already past and gone? There isn’t any acceptance of civil law any more, just religious and personal?

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  • Arjun
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:53AM

    Hafiz Saeed is living safely and appreciates the land of the pure..

    so things aren’t all bad…

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  • Cynical
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:52AM

    Admire your courage Sir.
    Objective clarity and honest introspection is a rare commodity in Pakistan.

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  • sayeed tajik
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:40AM

    bravo sir!

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  • Jan 2, 2012 - 6:48AM

    Salman Taseer was a vigilant man. May his soul rest in peace.

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  • Zalim singh
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:50AM

    why did pakistan forget salman’s son?

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  • Noor
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:05AM

    I feel the extreme modernisation is also to be discouraged.

    Do we have any common agenda or reference to follow and grow in the society?

    Modernists have US democracy, few have Egyptian or Turkish models;

    What will be acceptable to all is Quranic model.

    Modernists don’t need to be scared, because many religious fanatics don’t even know what exactly Quran & Sunnah give us, thus making people worried.

    The original text available from Quran & Authentic sources of Lives of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, Caliphs & Imams are the only precedences to follow & take us out of current turmoil.

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  • UMAIR
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:10AM

    @Pro Bono Publico:
    What his all this got to do with the article. Dont act like a fool please.

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  • Chulbul Pandey
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:16AM

    The mullah who are the keeper of the mosques, use the very place to incite hatred towards other religions and sects. Some of the “speeches” are very violent and offending in nature. This is done every single week in the name of religion, from a place of worship! Who are these people and what is their agenda?Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:22AM

    Kudos to the writer for taking the mullah/rightwing alliance head-on. It is a shame that only secular, nationalist and progressive leaders are targeted. Most of the victims of religious terrorism are PPP, ANP and other nationalist parties. Obviously the leaders of rightwing parties are never targeted. Yet the campaign of hatred against the secular parties is still going with full momentum. While the murderer of Taseer, Salim Shahzad, Bhatti and Baloch nationalists are showered with praiseRecommend

  • Munir Kakar
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:32AM

    Excellent article. Professor has exactly pointed out where the shoe pinches. This country which was, relatively speaking, at peace with itself has now earned the notorious distinction of being the most dangerous country on earth. Another unenviable reputation that we have gained is that the spectre of failed state is haunting us. The bloodshed, mayhem, economic meltdown, political instability, the moral deterioration, the hypocracy and other countless demons that have reared their heads can be attributed to the great game that we are playing in afghanistan. This game has been played by many more powerful, more mighty than us but won by none. It is high time to change this apocalyptic trajectory. Dr sahib take care.

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  • karim
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:34AM

    Great article with a sound stance…

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  • Aziz
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:28AM

    Bravo Sir!
    I wish there are more people in this country like you. It is the mullahs supported by our military and some weak opportunistic politicians this country has become like this, beyond redemption.
    Salman Taseer was a vigilant man. May his soul rest in peace.

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  • Shehryar
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:50AM

    @Zorawar: That concocted story might have had something to do with Aatish Taseer’s banishment from the family after he used them as source material for a tell-all book. Not very ‘decent’ of him..

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  • Jan 2, 2012 - 11:52AM

    Listening to such developments leaves you with an overwhelming sense of despondence, utter hopelessness, as you realize that the problem isn’t the government – it’s the people.

    It’s not just the rich and the powerful who are corrupt, the disease has spread far and wide through every stratum of our social system. Makes me wonder if there’s anywhere to go than down..

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  • john
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:57AM

    I don’t know why all these liberal fascists, like the author himself, speak against the laws of Islam. Why don’t you go and read the Holy Quran with Urdu translation and Tafseer first. There is no justification of Interest (Sood) in Islam, it is deemed haraam by Allah in the Holy Quran.

    The crux of the matter is that people doesn’t know the basic laws of Islam and come out publicly against them. I suggest the writer to do a through research of Islam and its laws before spitting out his hatred against them.

    Islam is the best religion and it is chosen by Allah to be the best. He sent the best man in the universe, our Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) to teach us about Islam. We should follow His footsteps and learn to tolerate each other.

    We should respect the difference of opinion, we should respect the boundaries set by the laws of Islam and if one doesn’t like it, he should keep it to himself instead of doing public bashing.

    The laws of Islam, or Hadood as been said by Allah in Quran are universal constant and cannot be changed, cannot be questioned, they are set up by Allah Himself. Read Chapter 4 (Surah Nissa).

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  • Azam Khan
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:30PM

    Endorse the views of the Prof. 100%. Hate and religious intolerance is tearing our society apart.

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  • Jan 2, 2012 - 12:39PM

    I agree with much of Dr. Hoodbhoy has said but he is being naive in thinking that khutbah censorship will reduce radicalism. Indeed, Egypt remains staunchly radicalized because the tough theological issues have not been addressed in curricular reform. In particular, a specific peace education curriculum and how to deal with dissent and critical thinking is essential for all Islamic schools. This is missing all over the Muslim world. Constitutional separation of state and mosque is also essential to prevent backsliding. A tall order for Pakistan but one which must be struggled for nevertheless — otherwise all attempts at reform will be superficial.

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  • Arjumand
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:45PM

    I am so happy that still there are people in Pakistan who dare speak truth. Suliman Taseer was not only a great person but a real practicing Muslim. His only fault was, he wanted a true Islam in the country. He paid for his beliefs. We need to know the history in Pakistan. It started in 1974. When Murder in the name Allah and Religion started and every one of us enjoyed that. I remember no one condemned at that time.I am happy that some one is doing it now.Before I end,
    Let us remember Mr Taseer today and pray for his soul. I believe he is in the highest place in Haven. May Allah protect his family and bring back his innocent son home same. Amin.
    Dr Hoodbbhoy I salute you for your courage and pray for your safety. Please keep it up All Mighty Allah be with you.
    Arjumand

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  • Baqar
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:59PM

    Not a big fan of yours…but here you speak nothing but truth and among all this chaos this was a really sane piece

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  • alicia
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:03PM

    What has disappointed me most is the response to salman taseers killing. As a politician I never agreed with him but his death still shook me to the core.
    Young College going boys giving him valentine cards? LAWEYRS of the highest standard coming to his defence including a chief justice and showering him with garlands. Molvis taking out daily rallies in his favour and celebrating Mumtaz Qadri day? I have never felt so alienated, revolted and disgusted from my own people as I did after Taseers death

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  • Asim
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:09PM

    Great and brave piece of writing Dr. saheb. Always a pleasure reading your articles and thoughts. 4th January, 2011 will always be remembered as one of the darkest days in the history of this country or perhaps a defining day for this nation, as from this day onward our moral values started going only in one direction i.e. DOWN.

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  • Ghalib Khalil
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:19PM

    I miss that BRAVE GUY

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  • Nausherwan Eff
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:49PM

    No doubt, Pakistan’s biggest loss of 2011

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  • Sadia
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:12PM

    @Saleem H Ali:
    your ideas are sound, but i don’t think hoodbhoy is being naive. what he is outlining, is just one (and possibly the first) out of several steps that we must take to emerge from the abyss we’re in currently. you cannot have a healthy body by improving your diet (an analogy for all that you suggest), while breathing in noxious fumes all the time (these hateful sermons poisoning our minds). the professor is suggesting that we first clean up the air and then take it on from there.

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  • blaaah
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:21PM

    @john
    The writer is not at all talking against Islam. Open up your eyes and read the article firstRecommend

  • blaaah
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:31PM

    @john

    He is talking about the Mullahs who engrave hatred in the hearts of our youth. Islam is a religion of peace not hatred. Reading the translation of Quran does not mean you know the actual meaning of it.

    Salman Taseer may not have been a True Muslim but he did more for Muslims than you can ever do. I suggest you google what Taseer actually said and spend a few hours (given your low intellect) to determine whether Taseer’s words were directed towards our Holy Prophet or towards the corrupt ways the law is used.

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  • AM
    Jan 2, 2012 - 3:07PM

    I never thought about leaving Pakistan before his death, afterwards I thought I cannot identify myself with this barbaric nation anymore; but today I thought if Hoodbhoy has not left this country who am I to alienate myself from Pakistan? At least there are some people left on my side, who speak the truth intrepidly without getting scared of going to jail, lynched by the people and being declared an apostate by the Mullahs.

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  • Pakistani
    Jan 2, 2012 - 3:27PM

    well said. We need such courage from other writers.

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  • Omaidus
    Jan 2, 2012 - 3:28PM

    Yes agreed, all the Sermons should be in control of a religious authority being represented by each sect,in Jamat-e Ahmadiyya this system is already in practice.

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  • Jan 2, 2012 - 3:33PM

    Professor thank you for remembering that brave son of Pakistan. I pay my homage to him. But the main question is how long Pakistan will continue to remain a place as we see it today. We have lost many Salman Taseers beteen August 1947- December 1971, murdered in cold blood by the sons of Islam, in the name of Islam.

    Will Pakistan continue to remain like that even in the 21st Century? Can Allah alone save Pakistan from the hands of the Muslims, the killer of Salman Taseer?

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  • Safwan
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:03PM

    He was The Great Man

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  • AD
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:16PM

    Hats off to you sir for writing such an article. Salman Taseer was a real hero!

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  • Amit
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:40PM

    The author and likes like him need to be in a part of Pakistani government or authority to weed out the lunatics.

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  • LOK
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:12PM

    Pakistanis (molvis inclusive) don’t realize that the best yet most lethal trait that Allah has given humans is free will. Religions and societies are suppose to act as guides so this free will remains contructive and contributes towards development and progress. Pakistanis are snatching this free will from Pakistanis. This is the change that we need and need it now.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:40PM

    Excellent piece.

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  • Athar mahmood
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:55PM

    long live salman taseer..sometimes i think that his soul will certainly inquire us what have you did for my cause,the cause for humanity.u nabbed my son, assassinated my friend,silent the intellectuals and loss the voice for victims of extremism! my head certainly bent by shame…..

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  • saleem
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:11PM

    Thank you Dr Hoodbhoy, yes Salman Taseer was a brave man. Shahbaz Bhatti too was another brave man. Fanaticism with religion has been a sore point of history and still contends to be the major disgrace for all humanity. Whether it is the cruxification of Christ,murder of Hazrat Umar Hazrat Usman and Hazrat Ali.( 3 out of 4 Khulfa e Rashideen) pulling down of Babri masjid, murder of MK Gandhi. Religion with love and compassion has been the better example for humanity to follow as displayed by the Holy Prophet . After all in Quaid words Your are free , you are free to go to your temples, churches and mosque it is not the business of the state. All humanity is equal.

    In all Arab countries not only khutbas but the masjid is also controlled by the rulers. No ijtimas, Raiwinds can happen without strict compliance to rules of engagements, whole world knows, religious fanaticism makes a person insane more than any drug or alcohol.

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:16PM

    Without some agreed form of control,
    Pakistan shall sink ever deeper into
    religious anarchy and fanaticism

    I don’t see any form of control yet. So……

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  • Sajjad Hazara
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:45PM

    Thank you Dr. Hoodbhoy for your contribution to ‘intellectualism’ that can possibly save this society, if anything is expected to do so.

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  • sinner
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:55PM

    Pakistan is a country which is going to collapse under religious fundamentalism. The only way Pakistan can progress is to detach its constitution from Religion and make it a secular state. If that is not done, the way mullahs are gaining power in this country it is not far fetched that one day we will be a completely theocratic state. The only way for survival of Pakistan is to make it a secular state which under these circumstances is unrealistic.

    Dr. Hoodbhoy i salute you for your courage but there are very few people like you left in this country.

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  • Sarosh
    Jan 2, 2012 - 7:55PM

    Excellent review. Right and focused education regarding religion and social values is mandatory.

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  • Vijay K
    Jan 2, 2012 - 8:24PM

    Excellent article from an amazing man, who I have admired and clung to his every word I can find on you tube and elsewhere. Unfortunately, the English press is read by less than 1% of Pakistan and does not have any impact. Dr Hoodbhoy belongs to India, he is wasting his time in the wrong country. I fear that in due course, Pakistan will assassinate or drive out its intellectuals, what then? (note in today’s news : 4000 doctors have left Pakistan this year alone)

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  • hammurabi
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:00PM

    John!
    Kings of Mesopotamia and Babilona also claimed that their constitutions descended from gods so that the people should not dare to violate these constitutions.the kings also applied
    “blasphemy laws” on the deviants,the history of ancient histories needs to be understood in the first instance.

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  • hammurabi
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:03PM

    Jhon!

    Your comments are biased.Hoodbhoy is absolutely right.

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  • ChilledOutGuy
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:10PM

    Rightly or wrongly, there is a perception that Pakistani ‘Liberals’ are anti-islam & are consciously or unconsciously influenced by western thinking like Liberalism. Until this perception changes, they will be regarded by ordinary Pakistanis with deep revulsion & mistrust

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  • Ignorant Rationalist
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:26PM

    The recurring theme in the ignorant comments above is “Salman Taseer” was a brave man. A qualitative statement with no evidence to back it up. Taseer’s death is being discussed in context of his bravery. Yet no one has provided evidence to convince my mind how exactly was he brave. Was he physiologically brave? If that is what you mean then you are wrong, he was quite easily downed by few bullets.

    Was he psychologically brave? If that is what you mean then again you are wrong, he put his life in jeopardy for some of his beliefs. It goes against what our Mother Evolution wanted for us: reproduce and survive. Taseer defied those basic rules, which you guise as his bravery , and he met his fate. I do not blame Qadri. I just say Taseer filtered himself out. Recommend

  • ainee niazi
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:05PM

    Bravo article.

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  • ainee niazi
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:18PM

    Bravo article…….We Miss A Lot .

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  • Jp
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:12PM

    Hoodboy is a true statesman. His views are brave & very sensible. No right thinking person can disagree with him on such matters which deeply affects the common people & country. But the problem in Pakistan is nobody listens to sensible voices. Nobody shows the spin to take the hate mongers heads on. People are not bothered about any misdeeds or hate mongering of the mullas. Recommend

  • saeed khan
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:19PM

    Mr. Taseer was and will remain my role-model till I live. I have known him, not personally, long before he even became governor because of his accounting firm. I fully agree with Mr.Hoodbhoy and I myself believe the barbaric thinking of the illiterate mullahs should be “eliminated”.But I have to mention here that bank interest, insurances of all kind and music are fundamentally prohibited in Islam. Yes, to be honest I listen to music, use the conventional banking system and do use insurance policies but I DONOT go on saying that its allowed in Islam and its correct to do so. What I am trying to say we should know whats allowed and whats not in shariah (ISLAMIC LAW). The rest I fully agree with Mr. Hoodbhoy and I think its my personal right to tell everyone my personal opinion as well. Thank you and once again Salmaan Taseer RIP you were a great man and will always remain alive in my heart and in the hearts of many others.

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  • rashid
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:41PM

    we, the so called ‘silent majority’ live with all our moderate and ‘jeo aur jeene doa’ ideas with suffocation but we can’t express them… we fear from the bigots and accept their ideologies though with plenty of disdain. Are there people as bold and daring as Dr. Hoodbhoy.. i think not many!!! alas!!! if only we had such brave souls among us who could express their progressive views and offer solutions to the malady of bigotry spread by the regressive forces, we can progress as a nation.
    RIP Salman taseer..
    At the same time may I request our lagislators and the supreme judiciary to pay some attention to the remedies offered by the professor and bring the model of Egypt and Turkey in Pakistan. Is there any hope!!??

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  • Thinker
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:50PM

    Naive …. People should talk about things they have knowledge of. Here I feel the writer and the admirers come from the same blind folded part of our society. People without proper knowledge of their past and visionless people hoodwinked by the prevalent culture and media of the world. Considering this fact I can only feel sorry for u guys and hope, pray and wish that u people take my cue seriously and start looking for reality of your world, your past and your religion ….

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  • Saad Saleem Dogar
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:52PM

    Pakistan is stuck with violence. our society is psychologically unfit and intolerant regarding religious views(most of them are self made though). cursing those whom we think are responsible for all this may not serve the purpose as much as to educate our masses and bring and entire change of attitude in ourselves. most of the discussion being related to blasphemy makes me say that we haven’t understood as religion as it needs to be………

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  • Basharit
    Jan 3, 2012 - 12:05AM

    Majority of pakistani’s what Ghazi Mumtaz Qadri freed, and freed he will!

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  • Zorawar
    Jan 3, 2012 - 12:09AM

    @Adil: If you set up licensing for mullahs then any mullah who doesn’t preach bigotry and hatred will lose his license since he would be going against nazariy-e-pakistan due to which hatred and bigotry are inculcated in all of you by the school system.

    Accept who you are and stop trying to fool yourselves and the world with such articles. Take a new year’s resolution to be honest.

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  • sophia
    Jan 3, 2012 - 12:19AM

    The problem with Hoodbhoy’s thinking is that it is just as black and white as that of the Mullahs and religious fanatics. It is an either/or nature that has discredited Hoodbhoy among some of his previous allies, i.e., secular progressives. He paints a picture that fits his black and white version when it comes to how pakistanis responded to Salman Taseer’s murder, there were significant number of Pakistanis, and not just liberals and progressives, who were appalled by the murder of Salman Taseer. Also, he very dangerously paints the opposition to U.S. imperialism and Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine as a Mullah driven phenomenon. Many secular progressives around the world oppose U.S. imperialism and Israel’s military occupation and human right abuses for reasons that have nothing to do with religion. This is the group he has lost the respect for in recent years due to him appearing uncritical of imperialistic aggressions/vilence while criticizing religious aggressions and violence.

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  • majid bin ahmad
    Jan 3, 2012 - 12:39AM

    we all are condemning qadri……….its ok bt salman too had adopted a wrong way and our media also presented such a picture of the whole event that a lot of qadries were ready to kill governorRecommend

  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir
    Jan 3, 2012 - 1:32AM

    The blasphemy law, will stay in all Muslim countries, where we Muslims, wish to furnish our lives in accordance to the Quran, and Sunnah. How ever its misuse should not be allowed. All of us feel sad, at the
    unfortunate incident, to Salman Taseer. However, it does not have to do with any laws. Hoodbhoy is no example for any of us Muslims at all. Our example and hero is the last and final Messenger of Allah, SAWS, sent to humanity, to establish the deen of Allah, as stated in the Holy Quran, a book the like of which is a challenge to the entire universe.Recommend

  • Saad Khawar
    Jan 3, 2012 - 2:08AM

    Nicely written Sir! you are without doubt the best teacher I’ve ever had.

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  • American
    Jan 3, 2012 - 2:18AM

    @Ignorant Rationalist:
    You should read: “The Price of Altruism” by Oren Harman ISBN: 978-0-393-33999-4
    Your observation is appropriate for today’s Pakistan: Every man for himself, survival at the cost of others. (Other persons, groups, sects, religions, etc.). This is jungle law, and while appropriate for the jungle, most modern nation states have come to recognize that protection of the minority, the weak and the unfortunate is a primary purpose of modern government. This is not entirely out of pure altruism…it has come to be realized that without a substantial part of the population feeling safe and secure (not just the top 10-15%), the population as a whole cannot progress.

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  • aysha
    Jan 3, 2012 - 3:17AM

    When the state made its business in 1974 to identify citizens as muslims and non muslims, rather than developing the understanding that whoever claims to be a muslim should be considered a muslim, individuals in the society took on the role of judges, first to decide whether a person is or isnt a muslim and then went on to analyze whether he or she is a good muslim or not. After this state of mind, that one actually has the responsibility/authority to pass judgement on another person’s faith/ religious beliefs was developed, the next decision was to decide the fate of those individuals who are considered not so great muslims as themselves. Unfortunately, with the support or perhaps instigation of some religious leaders who are in the minority, ordinary people were led to brutal acts of murder, hence Salman Taseer . Civilized societies do not exhibit such intolerance and disregard to peaceful co-existence. Identifying people’s faith and taking further action on the basis of such identifications cannot be made by the state and please our PROPHET (SAW) is REHMATUL ALAMEEN, no brutal acts should be committed in his name.

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  • Shahzad
    Jan 3, 2012 - 6:35AM

    Well there is a mumtaz qadri website and you should visit it to see who amongst are tv anchors and political leaders are there and also see their comments it makes me sick about what such people have said there.

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  • hamzad
    Jan 3, 2012 - 6:49AM

    secularoon, liberaloon, and murtadoon should never be tolerated and given respite in Pakistan

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  • Shahzad
    Jan 3, 2012 - 6:57AM

    @aysha:
    When Halaku invaded Baghdad some ulema gave a fatwa allowing them to brand some Muslims who joined Him as non Muslims. As far as I know this is where the concept of Takfiri has originated. To my knowledge there is no other specific mention of this in Quran or Sunnah.

    Recently I also read the Risala of Ayman Al Zawari which was mentioned by a Pakistani columnist called Khalid Ahmad referred to as morning and the lamp. The concept of Jahallia I came across for the first time. It was an eye opener. Through this concept Islam is the morning and all western thought is a mere lamp. I think if you follow this the writer Ayman Al Zawari has branded Pakistan’s constitution, inspiite of the objective clause, not Sharia compliant and a rejected democracy and said it’s proponents non Muslim or confused at least.This how he rejects Jinnah’s Pakistan to.

    Clearly the arguments have been laid and the verdict is with people of Pakistan and I am confident eventually reason will prevail.

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  • Citizen X
    Jan 3, 2012 - 8:03PM

    Salman Taseer can never be the voice of reason in Pakistan. People like Salman Taseer are professional politicians. They have no ideology; they have no vision. The only reason they are in politics is to get the perks and privileges and benefits of power.

    It is people like him who have destroyed this country and destroyed the potential in this country.

    Look at the leader he was following?
    Did he honestly think by following Zardari he was helping Pakistan?
    XRecommend

  • ejaz chitral
    Jan 3, 2012 - 8:45PM

    love u sir..thanks for giving hope!

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  • Abbas from the US
    Jan 3, 2012 - 9:06PM

    Dr Hoodbhoy is part of the slowly vanishing breed of men and women who have held out as the conscience of Pakistan, standing up against crimes and oppression on minorities in the name of religion. At this point even the Quaid must be turning over in his final resting place to see the vision of Pakistan that he had, irretriveably lost.
    If Dr Hoodbhoy or anyone else can direct me a defence fund that may exist for Aasia Bibi I will fullfill my obligations as a sacred duty to my Pakistani origins as required, and make a contribution to this worthy cause. The details of the misunderstanding that she has been accused of, would not stand up to in any secular court anywhere in the world.
    As for the unsung hero Salman Taseer, his martyrdom will be acknowledged and recognised universally, whereever there live men and women concerned about religious freedom for the human soul.

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  • Nagpuri
    Jan 3, 2012 - 9:23PM

    This is what happened when you have country based on “purity” of race religion. As we all know, nothing is 100% pure. So the quest to get it further pure is on. If you starting point is based on exclusion then your journey can’t be based on inclusion.Recommend

  • correct option
    Jan 3, 2012 - 9:41PM

    EXCELLENT article! Kudos to Tribune for publishing it.

    I wish we could implement the pre-recorded khutbas policy!

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  • JustAnotherPakistani
    Jan 4, 2012 - 1:44AM

    @Citizen X so what are you proposing? That anyone who’s political views you find abhorrent should be murdered? We should be able to hold whatever views we want on religion, society and politics without it costing us our lives.

    Qadri needs to hang high and long so that it sends a message to these murderers that civil society will not tolerate their barbaric ways.

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  • Jan 4, 2012 - 3:13AM

    “Pre -recorded Khutbas and approval” of them isn’t a practical solution for the Muslim sects in Minorityeg: the shias.
    Who would the approval committee consist of? Moreover how would they approve a speech of a minority leader when a majority of them don’t accept Shias as Muslims or having the right/authority to give those speeches in the first place?

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  • RajX
    Jan 4, 2012 - 12:22PM

    @Shehryar: How do you know it’s a concocted story when that conversation happend between two other people? One of those two has mentioned it in his book and the other has not denied it.

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  • Minahil
    Jan 4, 2012 - 1:39PM

    Thumbs up for the writer…….=)

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  • Hira
    Jan 4, 2012 - 3:30PM

    Also, sad to know that a silly, noisy neighbourhood dispute is what started this all. Sigh.

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  • S.Murthy
    Jan 6, 2012 - 11:42AM

    The military and religion are strangling democracy in Pakistan. When will your county be allowed to concentrate on educating its youth and improving its economy? I don’t see any relief in the near future!Recommend

  • Rizwan Gondal
    Jan 9, 2012 - 11:04PM

    There is no gainsaying the fact that the incident was acme of the outcome of our ill conceived state sponsored islamic ideology. Since inception, we manufactured an ideology to create a raison detre for our country’s existance without thinking for a moment about its fall out. To add a capstone to this edifice, we were blessed with Mr. Zia whose name was totally opposite of the nature of his regime. What we are reaping now was sown at the outset of our independence, nurtured through out our history, and now ripe enough to savour. We badly need a new SOCIAL CONTRACT or else events like this would continue happening intermittently.

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  • indian response.
    Jan 10, 2012 - 2:19AM

    Mr Hoodboy,
    U always rock when u say something. Your calm response to freaks like Ziad Hamid etc just seems almost divine to me somehow. Too bad Ppl like u are such a minority in Pakistan and whats worse, not even in positions of power. You are the reason why I keep my ears open to what Pakistanis have to say. If ppl like you didnt exist, I would have ignored Pakistanis for everything they had to say. The day I saw Qadri was showered with petals, I kinda lost hope for your nation all together. To be honest I thanked god that day that I am not in your country as a minority. Even Muslims in India have faced issues but they also have made immense progress as well. That fight is an ongoing battle but there is alteast a good left to fight evil. But I cant say the same about Hindus in your country. Taseer was the good guy for them who quite simply got eliminated.

    Anyway, we have many great Muslim celebrities and leaders. But I still think we need someone such as urself here too we cause I dont think India has the kind of muslim I see in you.

    I wonder what Imran Khan has to say about Qadri and Taseer. Or will he go the gaining votes way.

    Cheers

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  • Asif Gulyani
    Feb 28, 2012 - 12:29AM

    Red salute to the Great Leadership of Pakistan people Party.Recommend

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