LAHORE: If you enter Salmaan Taseer’s residence in Lahore, the first thing that you would come across is calligraphy paintings on the front wall. Next to them hangs a masterpiece by one of Pakistan’s best artists Saeed Akhter.
The house is unique in more than one way and speaks volumes about his artistic taste. You name a renowned artist and Taseer will be sure to have his work in the collection. Sadiquain, Gulgee, Shakir Ali are a few names whose rare and classic works find a prominent space in his collection. His three houses in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore all have one thing in common: art collections.
“Salmaan Taseer had a rare gift to admire and enjoy art. He will be the only governor in our history who had around 300 cartoon sketches of his own that newspapers had published over time. I got all those sketches framed and he joyfully showed them to his personal guests and friends,” one of his personal staff officers told The Express Tribune.
“Salmaan Taseer smoked Cuban cigars and was very fond of expensive glasses. He would not care much about his dressing but would be very careful in choosing glasses. Mostly he lunched at the same restaurant and didn’t mind mixing with people there,” he said.
Another official at the Punjab Governor House said: “He was very fond of driving and mostly travelled in his personal Mercedes. He had travelled across the country while driving himself.”
“Salmaan Taseer was a very down-to-earth person. He didn’t change a bit after assuming the office of governor and had no airs about him,” said Ishtiaque Asif, a businessman and one of Taseer’s old friends. “He did a lot of charitable work but never publicised it. He was very humane, tolerant and a visionary who will be missed,” Asif added.
Salmaan Taseer was the son of Dr MD Taseer, who is said to be the sub-continent’s first PhD in English Literature from England. His father was a friend of Allama Iqbal’s while his mother and Alys Faiz, wife of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, were sisters.
“I couldn’t get admission to the Aitchison College, Lahore, because I didn’t have enough money. Now I am the chairman of its board of governors,” Taseer had once said in an interview when asked about his struggles in life.
It is presumed that Taseer was assassinated for his stance on the blasphemy laws. Jamaat-e-Islami’s former chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad said: “Taseer’s murder is extremely regrettable and condemnable. This shows the intolerance in our society”.
Akbar Naqi, a close aide of Taseer who has been serving on key posts in business organisations run by him, said, “He was a very large-hearted person. He had the courage to face criticism without reacting. Salmaan saheb was a very enlightened, lively and brave person who didn’t budge an inch from his stance when he knew he was right.”
“The government should conduct a judicial inquiry of the incident at once. The truth should come forward,” said former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri.
1994: Established First Capital Securities Corporation, a full service brokerage house
1995: Established Worldcall, considered the pioneer group in the private telecommunications sector
2002: Established Daily Times, an English-language daily newspaper
2004-05: Established Business Plus, the country’s first business and news channel
2010: Launched Zaiqa television channel
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2011.