“What I will remember from 2011 will be the repulsive images of my father’s murderer on television,” Shehryar Taseer, son of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, said on Wednesday.
Shehryar was talking to The Express Tribune at a vigil at Liberty Market roundabout in honour of his late father. Shehrbano Taseer also attended the vigil.
Shehryar said that 2011 was one of the darkest years in the history of Pakistan. “Where is that judiciary and democracy we fought for?” he asked.
Remembering his bother, Shahbaz Taseer, who was abducted in August 2011 from Lahore and has still not been recovered, Shehryar said, “I pray that God gives him the strength and courage to get through this day all alone.”
The vigil was attended by a number of civil society activists. The participants carried placards with slogans against the blasphemy laws and demanded that the state step up action against militants.
Imtiaz Alam, the South Asia Free Media Association president, said that ‘progressive’ people in Pakistan had become insecure.“One can only hope that the Pakistan government will enforce court orders and not allow citizens and militias to take the law in their hands,” he said. Social activist Rab Nawaz Rai condemned lawyers who openly supported Taseer’s self-confessed killer, Mumtaz Qadri.
“These lawyers who openly support Qadri are a black spot on the collective conscience of our entire nation. They should be ashamed of their attitude,” his placard read.
PPP MPAs Sajida Mir, Faiza Malik, Riffat Sultana Dar and Kishwar Qayyum were also present. Mir told The Express Tribune that they were participating in the vigil as a part of civil society and not a political party. She said Taseer was a brave man and should be honoured. She criticised the PPP Punjab for “forgetting” Taseer.
“He had kept the doors of Governor’s House open for everyone. Now that he is no more, no one arranged a prayer for him there,” she said. Columnist Raza Rumi said he was disappointed by the PPP presence at the vigil. “The PPP is in such disarray that they could not gather a few hundred workers to remember a brave man.”
A year on from the assassination that increased polarisation in the name of religion, minorities continue to feel vulnerable. An attendee at the vigil, who identified herself as a Christian citizen of Pakistan and wished to remain anonymous, said “Our lives as minorities are not safe here. What happened was not right.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.