One year on

Published: January 4, 2012

Salmaan Taseer was killed by his security guard on January 4, 2011.

On this first anniversary of the assassination of Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer, we must take stock of how much moral backbone the country has lost by acquiescing in the persuasion of terrorism and the creed of extremism activating it. Two agencies or two professions must be held responsible for the downfall of the conscientious in the country: the media and the lawyers community. One puts to shame the brainwash of the fascist regimes of history; the other must give the judiciary a pause when re-evaluating the role played by the district-level lawyers in its restoration. Governor Taseer did not insult the Holy Prophet (pbuh); he simply protested a flawed legislation that causes the victimisation of the disadvantaged communities in the country. The role played by the media and the lawyers scared off the sane elements in society and the political party in power. Instead of making Taseer the emblem of our righteous objection to a very controversial law, we allowed the murder to go by default. Prominent citizens expected to uphold his cause, absented themselves from his funeral and clerics ran away from their duty of leading the janaza. Later, as if to confirm the moral backsliding of the nation, Taseer’s son was kidnapped from Lahore and is still being held for ransom.

There is much that the media must hang its head in shame for. The fact that some opinion is eschewed because of fear of being killed — and some good journalists have been killed or thrashed — can be overlooked; but the fact that many media persons actually share the world view of the murderers cannot be forgiven. The case of Governor Taseer was a false reality manufactured by a large section of the media which acted irresponsibly. The default practice is to get the politicians to hate each other and fight in public view; or to frame the politician in such a way that s/he becomes a target of hate crime. A particular talk show host constantly traded accusations with him that put him on the defensive and projected Taseer as someone actually inclined to blaspheme. The fact was that he was not guilty of blasphemy; he was made to look like defending a community that is assumed to be blaspheming. The media followed up by actually giving airtime to people who accused him of committing blasphemy. The violence of words usually leads to violence of acts. And this is what happened. A policeman thought he could win the adoration of the nation by killing Taseer. What he killed was the reputation of Pakistan as a sane country.

The lawyers usually come from the small districts where the writ of the state is weaker than in the big cities and there is a lot of violence used by the local strongmen to impose their order on the rural communities. After becoming successful there, lawyers usually relocate to big cities to educate their children and to escape the yoke of feudalism, police brutality and victimisation by an errant magistracy. But their minds remain arrested in the intolerant paradigm of religion, mixed with politics of power. Salmaan Taseer’s killer was lionised by the lawyers of the Rawalpindi Bar Association who showered him with flower petals and condemned the anti-terrorism judge who convicted him. The violence that the lawyers committed all over Pakistan — intoxicated with the sense of power imbibed from the restoration of the top judiciary — had reached its evil acme.

Taseer’s death has signalled a new low point in our collective conscience. And we are reaping the tragic harvest of this depravity in the further killing of undefended communities. Taseer defended a poor Christian woman targeted by fanatic elements buttressed by a frequently-misused law. Today, a number of helpless women of the Hindu community in Sindh are being victimised without much reaction from the Muslim majority. The Muslims themselves are punished with internecine violence for this dulling of the sense of social justice. The state releases the dogs of sectarian war from jail only to have them kill members of the Shia community. Taseer wanted us to have a liveable Pakistan and he paid for that with his life. Today, as Pasban Jafaria activists gather in Karachi demanding justice from the government, we are reminded of a sacrifice in 2011 which we allowed to go waste.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2012.

Reader Comments (21)

  • Ali Tanoli
    Jan 4, 2012 - 2:37AM

    Behind this guy one man is sitting on chair and his name is Mohammad Ali Jinnah and he was more libral than salman taseer and he was a defence lawyer of Mr GHAZI ILAM DIN SHAHEED.

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  • Pakistani in US
    Jan 4, 2012 - 4:19AM

    Anyone who defended the actions of Qadri is an accomplice to murder. These lawyers should be sent to jail for supporting a murderer under the pretense of promoting violence and terrorism.

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  • Cautious
    Jan 4, 2012 - 4:39AM

    Taseer’s death has signalled a new low
    point in our collective conscience

    Perhaps – but I would suggest that Pakistan’s collective amnesia about harboring OBL sets an all time low.

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  • Max
    Jan 4, 2012 - 6:03AM

    Thank you for speaking up your mind and standing for truth. We should be ashamed of ourselves, of our actions, and of our lip-service to the religious causes. The way the religion has been used by the fanatics is shameful and disrespect to the core ideas of the religion.

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  • Ashok
    Jan 4, 2012 - 7:09AM

    Mr. Ali Tanoli,

    What exactly are you trying to say?

    The best article in this regard about the Salman Taseer episode in relation to Pakistan was written by one of your columnists, Mr. Sarjoop Ijaz, in another newspaper titled “Remembering a Martyr”. I hope that article can get re posted in ET with his permission at some point in time. It is a must read for all your patrons.

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  • blah
    Jan 4, 2012 - 9:53AM

    The signs of a dead nation.

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  • Mirza
    Jan 4, 2012 - 11:29AM

    It has been one year and there is no justice except his son is held hostage by the same killers. I have a strange feeling that years would go by and Qadri would be having a good life in jail and not hanged. Only secular leaders are killed in Pakistan not the point blank murderers with smoking guns. How quickly ZAB was hanged with no real evidence by the LHC and SC? Now the are in hurry to even hear this case.

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  • anonymous
    Jan 4, 2012 - 12:19PM

    a guy named raymond davis kills three people for apparently nothing more than a treachery and he stays free and our liberals say/do/shout nothing. On the other hand, a guy who was innocent and probably was mislead to kill man for some apparent reason also stays free and liberals shout for his death/hanging/etc. Ignorants.

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  • frank
    Jan 4, 2012 - 1:43PM

    Mumtaz Qadri deprived Pakistan of one of the very few of the country’s politicians with ability, integrity and courage. I didn’t know him personally or anything but I really miss his prescence in Pakistan’s national life.

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  • Pakistani
    Jan 4, 2012 - 2:41PM

    Mr. Taseer was a brave leader and really Pakistan need for such courageous leaders. May ALLAH showers HIS countless blessing on him.

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  • Ghalib Khalil
    Jan 4, 2012 - 5:56PM

    R.I.P Salmaan Taseer. You were a brave guy; Qadri killed you for it. The day you died you ignited a fire, which is burning till now and may burn forever.

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  • Ahmed
    Jan 4, 2012 - 7:01PM

    There’s a difference between protesting on a flawed legislation and calling blasphemy law a “Black Law” as a whole. Taseer did both so the result wasn’t unexpected. He should have been mindful that muslims in Pakistan take their religion very serious. He got what he deserved.

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  • Cautious
    Jan 4, 2012 - 7:50PM

    @Ahmed — comments like yours are one of the reasons the World smirks when people try and hold out Islam as a peaceful religion.

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  • Adnan
    Jan 4, 2012 - 8:07PM

    @Ali Tanoli:

    It’s not your fault. Your generation has been told the lies in the name of History. For your kind information, Jinnah was not the Lawyer of Ghazi Alam Din as he was demanding a very high fee for his case. So, the case was fought by another lawyer. By the way, I am a practicing Muslim and offer five times prayers and respect the rights of others including the oppressed segments of our society.

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  • Ahmed
    Jan 4, 2012 - 8:30PM

    @Cautious – Islam is indeed a peaceful religion but don’t think that every thing is allowed and justified under the heading “peaceful”. There’s no mercy for Gustakh-e-Rasool as his destiny is hell and will remain (Last comment from my side).

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  • Jan 4, 2012 - 9:54PM

    Jinnah did represented Ghazi Ilam Din Shaheed, check this article: http://pakteahouse.net/2010/11/30/view-the-ilam-din-fiasco-and-lies-about-jinnah/

    Now liberals/seculars are trying to create lies just the same way they did when quoting Jinnah’s comments regarding implementation of laws of Quran in Pakistan.

    “a guy named raymond davis kills three people for apparently nothing more than a treachery and he stays free and our liberals say/do/shout nothing. On the other hand, a guy who was innocent and probably was mislead to kill man for some apparent reason also stays free and liberals shout for his death/hanging/etc. Ignorants. ” via anonymous

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Jan 4, 2012 - 10:05PM

    @Adnan,
    Yes man i undrstand there are two histories one in english and another in urdu and well unfotunitely i can read both languages so i know what going on and why…

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  • Jan 4, 2012 - 10:08PM

    ” Instead of making Taseer the emblem of our righteous objection to a very controversial law, we allowed the murder to go by default.”

    Yes.

    “Prominent citizens expected to uphold his cause, absented themselves -”

    You missed it because in a democracy it’s YOUR duty to become prominent to hold up a cause, not someone else’s. If the sane ones hide then the insane get to speak for you.

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  • Suleiman
    Jan 5, 2012 - 12:09AM

    The most peculiar theme in almost all the articles I read today is the defense that is presented by the authors against the accusation the Taseer insulted Prophet Muhammad. I find it absolutely mind boggling. The real question is, “Even what if he did insult the Prophet?”. Are we still living in dark ages where a person can be killed like a dog just for expressing his views? I am a Pakistani who now thankfully calls America his home. And I engage in a lively, factual debate with my colleagues on a daily basis where I try to destroy the credibility of Jesus Christ while they return the favor by arguing against Prophet Muhammad ( and some very good points,I must add). But at the end of each discussion, we are just as friendly,if not more friendlier than before. And that is a sign of a healthy and free soceity where the citizens can engage in a debate to express their views without fear of repercussions.

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  • Zach Khan
    Jan 5, 2012 - 3:17AM

    Reading the comments section on this article is very depressing.

    People are still defending a murderer because the victim hurt their feelings. Really? Is this how immature you all are?

    All these Qadri-sympathizers are using double speak. They need to figure out once and for all whether Islam is a religion of Peace or not.

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  • Shue
    Jan 5, 2012 - 3:40PM

    Very well written, the article hits the nail on the head. The statement:
    ” Governor Taseer did not insult the Holy Prophet (pbuh); he simply protested a flawed legislation that causes the victimisation of the disadvantaged communities in the country.”

    Explains the crux of the matter, the misleading role of media and our lawyers is very to the point and factual. Good Read!

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