Salmaan Taseer: An act to be remembered

Salmaan Taseer may not have been perfect but his final act will be remembered by many as his finest moment.

Sahar Aman January 06, 2011
The first time I was truly scarred was when screenwriters killed off Bambi’s mother in the 1942 Disney animated movie. It was a potent lesson for a child and one that has continued to manifest from the beginning of time throughout history and society.  A bitter testimony to what becomes of nobility in our world – remember, it was the hunter that shot Bambi’s mother as she tried to protect her child. The late Salmaan Taseer is not Bambi’s mother and perhaps he is no deer either, but he gave his life for something and one must pay tribute to that if not the man himself.

Whether we knew him or not, we are not at liberty to pass judgement on a man for his personal or political life - as a society we are much too fast to cast the first stone based on opinion. If we claim to be decent human beings, which most of us do, then we must allow his act to be imprinted onto our minds to be called upon as a message in crystal clear writing on the wall.

In a world where we write off hope as quickly as we do our politicians, this is something to unite us and get on the same page. We were humans first and foremost, before any religion came unto us and that is what the late Mr Taseer’s statement and death gives homage to. This tragedy is not just relevant to Pakistan but to every single so called human being in the world. One can disagree with a person’s viewpoint but to kill them for it?

Yet these tragedies no longer scar us – we highlight them on our Facebook pages and blog about them, I include myself and fall back onto the reverberant “Yes, it’s sad and devastating but what can we do?” This isn’t a nightmare we can wake up from - Bambi’s mother dying wasn’t real - Mr Taseer being killed for speaking out like countless others is. We must seriously ask ourselves what practical steps to take in order to reach a sustainable calm where something like this won’t happen again. Or are we simply to accept that such events are inevitable and will be a part of history and something to speak about but never learn from.

We have to learn because it does not only fall upon the youth, the grown-ups, the next generation or the politicians to bring about the kind of change that will render such debauchery. Passing on the buck won’t cut the lack of mustard anymore and the yellow brick road is blocked. We are all lost in our own poppy fields. Even while writing this I am painfully aware that like most writers I only offer pretty words, something to think about maybe but no real steps to start achieving the goal that we all seem to share but are incapable of having - a compassionate and tolerant society. It will take all of us before we can even contemplate removing the blocks on our road to reach such a goal.

You see, we all know this. We all know it’s wrong. We all want to help and we all want to make a change. What we don’t know is how to go about it. Yes, maybe we are in dire need of an inspirational leader but aspiration must come from within us. After all there are no great leaders, just great acts. Any woman and man who went onto do those, started how we did – in a womb that was made of compassion. You could be the next person to do great things or tyrannous things, depending on whether your loyalties lie with humanity or debauchery. The script you write for yourself is in your own hands and what you do good or bad in this world will contribute to the bigger picture. That is inevitable.

Condemning people to death for speaking out against tyranny is a sin similar to that of the hunter slaying Bambi's mother. To many people Salmaan Taseer may not have been perfect but his final act will be remembered by many as his finest moment.

To the perpetrators who cannot live and let live - you will never be able kill the greatest truth there is - the poetic beauty of acts of compassion.
Sahar Aman The author is the editor-in-chief of an online travel magazine, Days to Come. She tweets as @sahar_aman ( Follow her on Instagram: sahar_aman (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


jani jani | 13 years ago | Reply wath was hapen regarden salmaan tasee r
Hassan | 13 years ago | Reply @ Sahar and everyone who reads this, Salman Taseer (RIP) stood for the the blashphemy law and it was righteous stand by all accounts, but was it the need of the time or the the most important issue for the people of Pakistan, i dont think so. The late governer could have done more for Pakistan if he stood for increasing the health budget alone, Between 16 -35000 women die to due to lack of medical facilities during pregnancy in Pakistan, the highest in south asia. We have lost count of the number of people killed in target killings in karachi, suicide bombings in Pakistan and the deaths due to the military action. Add to this the honour killings the public lynchings this country is going down and going down fast. Access to law in this country is not for the common man and that common man includes minorities, the law is made for the those who can buy it, a commodity like all others in this nation. If all of you who are appalled by this, if all willing we can start the process for change a change which asks for social and economic justice for all. Religious bigots are allowed to continue with their agenda because the provide the goverment (all govts) with the power tipping votes to maintain the status quo which includes a free hand to all radical groups. The answer to this is with us a political change a change which addresses the balance between the have and have nots and a society which enacts and follows laws made for all not for some. Freedom from oppression is a prerequisite to freedom of expression.
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