Fighting for the white stripe
In his Christmas day speech, Taseer spoke with fervour about minorities' rights - why are liberals silent now?
On August 11, 1947, the country’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan unveiled the new Pakistani flag – an all-green Muslim League flag with a slight alteration. It included a white stripe that the then prime minister in his address went on to say provided minorities with rights that the Congress party in India was unwilling to give.
Standing on the empty front lawn of the Governor House for the first time since the governor’s assassination, I was reminded of Governor Salmaan Taseer’s Christmas day address only a month earlier.
The governor, who was dressed in his typical dark sports coat and white shalwar kameez with coloured shades, stood at the podium and pointed to the worn out Pakistani flag hoisted at the top of the Governor House.
“You see that white stripe on the national flag, it was designed for minorities in Pakistan,” said Taseer with great intent. “This is the importance of minorities, those who had hatred towards me or gave fatwas against me (extremists and terrorists) are the same as those who gave fatwas against Quaid-e-Azam, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then Benazir Bhutto and Basant.”
Salmaan Taseer had over the years turned into the last voice in the mainstream media to openly condemn extremism on an ideological level. He had a far-reaching effect, as he was unafraid to push Pakistan’s warped societal boundaries.
With the economy in continuous slide, the clerics have made a clear aim for power in the next elections. The moral cognizant of the pulpit has been fortified, as a growing trend of equating morality and justice with religion has developed.
The silence by the majority has only reinforced the intolerance in the society. For any country to develop or progress, tolerance is considered the cornerstone. In Pakistan, however, that idea seems to be rapidly disappearing.