Taseer’s murder: Veiled threats hurled at leading figures

Jihadi website posting calls Bilawal ‘the next target’ for defending ‘blasphemer’.


Saba Imtiaz January 14, 2011

KARACHI: Personalities condemning former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination and speaking out against the controversial blasphemy law are being threatened for voicing their views, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who made a strongly-worded speech in London this week, is among those being ‘condemned’. “To those who are praising or justifying these crimes, I say: you along with the killers of Shaheed Salmaan Taseer are the real blasphemers,” Bilawal had said in his speech.

A posting on a jihadi forum responded: “This defender of the blasphemer must be the next target.”Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti told AFP in an interview that fatwas have been issued calling for him to be beheaded. “During the Aasia Bibi case, I constantly received death threats. Since the assassination of Salmaan Taseer … these messages are coming to me even publicly,” he said. “The government should register cases against all those using hate speech.”

According to a report in Urdu-language daily Nawa-i-Waqt, the chief of the PPP’s ulema wing who led Taseer’s funeral prayers after other clerics reportedly refused to do so, has gone into hiding.

A report in English daily Pakistan Today quoted a Punjab-based leader of the Sunni Tehreek (ST) warning Shehrbano Taseer, the late governor’s daughter, about issuing statements against Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri who has confessed to assassinating her father. But, when contacted, a representative sought to distance ST from the comments. “That leader may have said something in his individual capacity, however, our central leadership pursues no such policy,” the representative told The Express Tribune.

Earlier this week, leaders of the Jamaat Ahle Sunnat pointed to an opinion piece by Shehrbano Taseer in The New York Times as “evidence of her views”.

Member of the National Assembly Sherry Rehman, who belongs to the PPP, has consistently been targeted.

Religious groups and political parties have called on the government to make Rehman withdraw the private member bill proposing amendments to the blasphemy law that she submitted in the National Assembly. A flyer distributed in Karachi by Tanzeem-e-Islami claimed that Rehman and Bhatti had “provoked the religious honour of Pakistan’s Muslims”.

The government has said that it will provide security to Taseer’s family and as well as to Rehman.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement on Wednesday, expressing its concern over her security. The statement quoted Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator as saying: “Rehman’s life straddles the worlds of journalism and politics like few others in Pakistan. Even with the government’s increased protection, she remains at great risk, and we remain greatly concerned about the safety of (a) colleague.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2011.

COMMENTS (50)

Checkerboard Strangler | 10 years ago | Reply @Numair Hussain: Ninety-nine percent? Oh please...if 99% supported such a thing The Express Tribune wouldn't even exist. Your hubris and hyperbole is matched only by the American "Tea Party" and their spiritual leader, Sarah Palin, and yet most Americans know that she is a joke. Wonder what most Pakistanis think of you.
Canuckistani | 10 years ago | Reply Jeff...there is so much wrong with what you're saying that one hardly knows where to start. The Muslim world, Pakistan included, is far more diverse than the US. We have many languages, cultures, ethnic groups and so on under our belt so ours is a much more established melting pot than the US. One of the major problems with what you're saying is that you think you have the right to come here and define the parameters of what is acceptable and what is "barbaric"; as if anybody who believes that Islam is more than just a personal matter is barbaric in your eyes and anyone who is secular is ok. The issue is, that is not your debate...you are not a part of this discussion. You can do all the name-calling you want...you are wasting your time. You are not convincing anybody new with your rhetoric...if anything, you are only re-enforcing the point that Americans think they have the right to interfere in our internal matters. Please go ahead and keep posting, you are only strengthening the argument of conservative Pakistan that says that the liberals are in cahoots with people like you..and the liberals an irrelevant minority. Add a million people like you and it will make no difference to US interests in the region..in fact, it will only set them further back and further provide encouragement to the public to support the call for a fully Islamic state. Tell us we're barbaric for wanting that...we really don't care. We saw how democratic you were when the Palestinians elected Hamas, or when the Turkish elected the Islamic parties and your government colluded with the secular army to overthrow the elected government. We know very well that you are not concerned about democracy....your main issue is with our religion (which is our way of life) and you can turn blue in the face and spend quadrillions of dollars but you will get nowhere trying to minimize our religion. rephrase it or re-frame it however you like...you have already given away the fact that your problem is with Islam...maybe you should go home and realize that Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America also...or realize that the trillions you're spending trying to fight us Muslims here is getting you nowhere and you would have been wiser to build roads and schools back home. Go away...you are not welcome here!
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