Should Taseer’s death be in vain?

Taseer was abandoned by his own. Prime Minister Gilani shamelessly played to the right when it came to blasphemy laws.

Gulraiz Khan January 05, 2011
I would be lying if I said I’m shocked by Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination. Ever since he announced support for Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death over blasphemy allegations, religious zealots had been calling for his head, on the streets, on Facebook groups and in fiery Friday sermons. Of course, no one took that seriously.

His own political party deserted him when Prime Minister Gilani, shamelessly playing to the religious right to save the coalition government and his seat, vehemently claimed he would never even think of amending the blasphemy laws. One would expect the prime minister to have more sense than to play the fiddle while the country is engulfed by intolerance and barbarism. I wonder if the premier feels even slightly guilty about this.

Not surprisingly, Taseer’s assassination has not, and will not, change much. Online message boards are rife with apologists, claiming ‘after all, he was supporting a blasphemer.’ Most religious clerics continue to maintain the man deserved this fate.

Then there is the Facebook group heralding the assassin Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri that has over a thousand ‘fans’ already. A close look at its member list reveals that the fans are not radicalised madrassah-educated folks. They’re either young, middle-class Pakistanis enrolled at universities or expatriates mostly from United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, television anchors continue to mull over how this will impact the Sharif duo or the government, not for a second pausing to question how this will impact the society at large. Is it not time to stop hiding behind metaphors and hold an open national debate on the media, like the one held in 2006 over Hudood laws, the result of which was the Women’s Protection Bill? Is it not time to put an end to this arbitrary state of affairs? If Taseer’s death does not bring this about, I’m afraid it will be in vain.
Gulraiz Khan A sub-editor on the business desk of The Express Tribune who is interested in visual journalism and hopes to turn newspapers in to works of art
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Vidyut | 13 years ago | Reply You guys could try making music to raise social awareness for people to find. If its catchy enough, and speaks of events they have been part of, its sure to be a hit. Music can carry a lot of soul searching without raising hackles. Or just, you know gatherings of liberals. No cause, nothing offensive, just become visible in the society, so that when craziness happens and you guys go quiet, it is noticed that its not 'everyone'. Use humor? TV shows? While it looks quite ghastly right now, I doubt if there are really so many crazies. Or at least I hope not. More likely people don't know the full story, and when they hear mullahs screaming that blasphemy laws are being removed and anyone can say anything about the prophet or something, they go nuts. I notice Muslims in general do that. Particularly if it were a trusted religious leader speaking about someone perceived as modern and western who may not care enough... Its quite unlikely that the internet warriors are all that insane. I mean, you can't really wander on the net without getting infected with a few values and broader ways of thought.... Its quite likely that when the pandemonium dies down, if you guys persist in raising dialogue, people may listen.
Robin | 13 years ago | Reply No point in writing in English language internet paper; literacy in Pakistan is 40%; out of that maybe 4% have access to and can read/write English; Out of that 4%, 80% are english-speaking fanatics like Faizal Shehzad, David Headley and London 7/7 bomber; rest 36% literate in Pak read in Urdu; the 60% -Totally illiterate listen to Mullah, etc.; What I am saying English language internet mein rone-dhone se kuch nahin hone waala; Jaake Urdu mein likho and un-padh logon ko radio mein sunao; Otherwise Ram-Kasam things are only going to get worse
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