Remembering Salman Taseer

Source: The Beginning

By Saira A. Nizami

January 2014

Years on, nothing has changed. Those who chant Qadri’s name stay the same and those who condemn this act and ask for justice, their cries go unheard…

I still remember the day when the Late Governor Salmaan Taseer was brutally murdered. Not because of the news, not because of the specifics, nor the details, but because of who I first got the news from. It was from someone who very casually said “he just died,” (mar gaya) in a way you would speak of someone really insignificant.

After that I had to repeatedly hear: It was absolutely right that he died, he totally deserved it, he committed “Tauheene Risalat” and so on. I wondered how could such a thing happen in broad daylight that someone’s own guard would shoot him, and what exactly could be so utterly despicable that he might have done. The said person continued that it is all over the news, don’t you know? While still in utter shock I replied that I did not hear of anyone doing so. I could not understand how could someone rejoice killing a defenseless person. In a few exchanges, it just went like this – he committed blasphemy – but how? He just committed blasphemy. After about 2 minutes, it came out: Salmaan Taseer had rightly called Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law a “Black Law.”

The next few exchanges went in my relating Ahadith (sayings of prophet Muhammad pbuh) and Quranic ayats defending life which concluded that taking a life wasn’t to be taken as unimportant and that one was answerable for it. Unfortunately, when you are trying to speak logic with a person illiterate on the subject, it does not work. It should be kept in mind that the person I am speaking of has nothing to do with Islam or any practice of it, but in the matter of “tauheene risalat” (Blasphemy/defaming the Prophet) Islam came in between – which basically means how much blindfolded people have become – they do not have anything to defend their view on, other than “because it is so.” Since when did a man-made blasphemy law of Pakistan become God’s law?

That was the time when the tables were officially turned and Mumtaz Qadri, a murderer, was hailed as a hero. Lawyers gave garlands to this person who had defied his duty as a bodyguard and mercilessly shoved 25 bullets into someone just because he was brainwashed by a Mullah. It brought up the ugly face of the mindset that had been poisoned by these so-called “Islam ke thekedar,” those who call themselves scholars of the religion.

People who blindly put their faith in hate-inciting Mullahs or scholars should ponder upon this: Why don’t these scholars themselves practice on the deed? These people should just for once open the Holy Quran with all humility and for the sole purpose to gain true knowledge. The Holy Quran says, “Whosoever killed a person …it shall be as if he had killed all mankind” (5:33) I think this sums it all. Even Ahadith-e- Nabwi, which are the Prophet Muhammad SAWS’ sayings and way of life explain a lot about the value of life and how one should live peacefully with their brethren.

Pakistan has witnessed the times when Salman Taseer’s funeral was not attended by many only because of the fear of radicals. Sadly, it is also that some agreed that it was right, while others argued that “this is not America, he should have known better than to open his mouth… What rights? This is only a minor concept which doesn’t exist in Pakistan.” Some plainly just did not care, while some made it an issue to poke into his personal life. Why can’t we see the big picture? Why is it such a blasphemy to speak for someone’s rights while staying mum is the correct choice?

All of this was followed with minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti’s killing (the only Christian member of the cabinet) for being outspoken against blasphemy laws. Sherry Rahman’s self- house arrest for trying to pass a bill in the parliament against blasphemy laws. Reporters and office members who spoke against this heinous crime were made silent. Mullahs and their followers held rallies whenever there was even a whisper of amending the Constitution in this matter. When you see minorities further being crushed, government cowering to radicals, hatred boiling and increasing… it means only one thing: there needs to be a change in the lineup.

What matters is that Pakistan’s young are known for their intense “josh-o- jazba” (passion and devotion). If they want, they can hold a rally and a change can be made; but unfortunately, till now all I have seen are riots done for the wrong reasons. When Pakistan can hold rallies to have government ban Facebook for the day, or mosques can hold sudden prayer sessions for Pakistan’s cricket team to win the World Cup, then a change can be made if people raised their voices for the right reasons. Those who stand for humanity should not stay silent any more. “.. and whoso gave life to one person, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind.” (Quran, 5:33)


Saira A. Nizami is a freelance writer and is vocal on Human Rights and Current events. She can be reached @sainiz


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