The alleged killer was calm, well-composed, with no visible signs of repentance on his face and probably confident about his bright future in paradise. He may have read the fatwa issued by the Aalami Jamaat Ahle Sunnat on November 24, declaring Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer an ‘apostate’ for raising his voice to free blasphemy convict Aasia Bibi. He may have seen the burning of effigies of Salmaan Taseer and Sherry Rehman during protest processions organised by the Sunni Ittehad Council on December 31. He may have been convinced that killing for religion is justified and that he would be amply rewarded in the afterlife. The textbooks he read in school may have taught him to hate people of other religions. Hatred, once engrossed in a raw mind, does not confine itself to any boundaries. It breeds intolerance, which has been encouraged by various pillars of the states. Anyone who dares to raise their voice against intolerance and bigotry is termed a ghaddar or kafir. People with open minds and rational thinking are coerced through different means. Murder is one of them.
“You will find that, in the course of time, Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims. Not in the religious sense, but in the political sense, as citizens of the state”. This was said by Jinnah in his address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947.
In the first cabinet meeting, the Quaid did not agree with Liaquat Ali Khan’s proposal of declaring Friday a weekly holiday. The Quaid had a clear vision of what kind of government system he wanted for Pakistan. However, after his demise, religious groups, politicians and state institutions hijacked his vision for their own interests.
On March 12, 1949, the Objectives Resolution was approved by the Constituent Assembly. This gave a chance to Islamic parties, who had opposed the creation of Pakistan, to demand the establishment of an Islamic state.
In March 1953, widespread disturbances broke out in Punjab against Ahmadis. After the violence, a court of inquiry headed by Justice Munir was constituted. The inquiry report concluded that no two ulema of different sects could agree on the definition of a Muslim.
They do not agree on one definition of a Muslim, but are keeping the people of this country hostage to their narrow vision of Islam. They are in minority but are organised, resourceful and ruthless. They are not content with existing Islamic laws. They demand more. Give them an inch and they will take everything.
Salmaan Taseer did not hesitate to voice his opinion about issues considered taboo in our country. We must raise our voice against bigotry and laws based on a controversial interpretation of Islam. Or we could become another such statistic.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2011.
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