Lashkar-e-Zia kills Taseer

By Waseem Altaf

(From Viewpoint Online)

Salman Taseer has been exterminated and buried, but not before hundreds of “ulema” declared that not only attending his funeral would be sinful, even expressing remorse on his death would be heretical. It is appalling that a large number of people openly and others quietly endorsed the murder.

Salman Taseer, the lone ranger was a pure soul, unlike most of our politicians who are scared of speaking the truth. He stood for the right cause and sacrificed his life for whom nobody dares to come forward–the downtrodden minorities, who are condemned to be citizens of this “holy” land. He was a courageous man who died as he had lived-brave, dashing and a living example for all those who fight against oppression, unjust laws and violation of basic human rights.

Mr.Salman’s postmortem report shows 29 bullet wounds on his body.14 entry and 7 exit. The bullets hit his liver, lungs, small and large intestines. However the three bullets which hit the neck severing his jugular vein caused his death. He died on the spot.

One thing is not understandable as to why a bearded religious person like Mumtaz Qadri was not subjected to a rigorous security clearance before he was posted to a VVIP protection squad. It is also noteworthy that ex-DIG Nasir Durrani had banned him for VIP duties due to his extremist views. Secondly, till Monday night his name was not on the duty roster, then how did he manage to get on duty, during the early hours on Tuesday. Thirdly, why all the other body guards kept watching while he fired 26 bullets from his sub machine gun. Not a single shot was fired on him by the other security personnel.

No religious party has condemned his brutal murder. Even people like Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri and Babar Awan gave a twist to the whole episode and preferred not to talk about the real issue. The investigation has begun. Will the prosecution involve those who had issued fatwas labeling Salman Taseer as a blasphemer and calling for his murder? Perhaps not. The instigators will go scot free like Ataullah Shah Bukhari under whose instigation Ilam Din murdered Rajpal.

Earlier, on the blasphemy law, The “liberal” PPP (P) leadership retreated, the state withdrew its support and the majority remained silent. As a consequence the maulvi is now on the loose.

In an article, a few days back I had written “if this menace is not contained now, it would further spread and the time is not far when even those opposed to the blasphemy law would be condemned as blasphemers”. That time has come.

The security of Sherry Rehman has been further enhanced. People came on the streets in Mansehra and Gujrat, chanting slogans in favor of Mumtaz Quadri. Demonstrations were held in Peshawar and Tangi demanding the release of the “hero of Islam” When on Wednesday he was brought to the district courts in Islamabad, hundreds of religious party activists and lawyers showered flower petals on him, chanted slogans in his favor, garlanded him, kissed him and more than a hundred lawyers vowed to fight his case, declaring him a hero. More than 2000 people have joined the facebook page of “Ghazi Mumtaz Quadri” Similarly all prominent ulema declined to lead Salman Taseer’s funeral prayers. The Badshahi mosque imam Abdul Khabeer Azad even left Lahore to avoid this “risky assignment” Even the khateeb of Governor House Qari Ismaeel refused the “sacrilegious” task Finally a PPP jiyala Mr.Afzal Chishti performed the “undesirable” rites.

The Government has asked its citizens to be tolerant while at the same time it is in no mood to handle the “intolerant” with an iron hand. Every citizen of this country is presently on his own. The maulvi has penetrated into the very fabric of this society, enjoying full support from many visible and invisible quarters. The state structures have already collapsed, and there is no remnant of governance at any level. The coming days are darker and without any support from the state every liberal progressive would find it extremely difficult to face the maulvi, who is already on the rampage. There presently exists no room for any disagreement on any matter which is even distantly linked to religion.

Yesterday’s hero was Ghazi Ilam Din “shaheed”.Today’s Mumtaz Qadri, is going to be another role model. We might see a movement in the near future demanding amnesty for the murderer, a campaign of terror against the police officials investigating Mumtaz and threats to the judges who would conduct the judicial proceedings. The case is likely to be prolonged despite the fact that Mumtaz himself has already made a confession.  At the same time, mother of five, Aasia Bibi would rot in jail, highly insecure within and outside the confines of the prison, as her sole supporter in the corridors of power has left her for good.

The headline news on CNN and BBC was that of Salman Taseer’s assassination. What message are we giving out to the entire world? The Governor of the largest province was murdered because he asked for amnesty for a poor Christian lady. Although we live in the most dangerous country of the world, yet it has become even scarier. In this “land of divinity”, if a religious fanatic has even the faintest idea that you are being disrespectful to “his” interpretation of Islam he is likely to kill you.

However it is unfortunate that the policy of appeasement towards the mullah remains the order of the day. Since 1949,when the objectives resolution was passed, to the Islamic provisions of the 1962 constitution to Bhutto’s  declaring the Ahmadis as non muslims to Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization to Musharraf’s retreat on section 295C,to the latest loss of spine  of the present regime, the curse  lives on. Similarly our textbooks and media under the patronage of the powers that be, continue to promote extremism.

On December 31st,the maulvi despite clear assurances from the government that it would not repeal the blasphemy law came out on the streets, receiving full media coverage, in tens of thousands, while the civil society, in small numbers, without any support from the government did come out in front of the parliament against the tyranny of law. Media was present there but it received little or no projection on the electronic and print media. Again on Wednesday the civil society gathered on the site of the crime for a vigil, lit candles, laid floral wreathes and bouquets and some speeches were also made.

Salman Taseer has been exterminated and buried, but not before hundreds of “ulema” declared that not only attending his funeral would be sinful, even expressing remorse on his death would be heretical. It is appalling that a large number of people openly and others quietly endorsed the murder.

The state and society today are at a critical juncture. The polarization is total and absolute. The Government has to make a vital decision if it wants a liberal, democratic, tolerant and progressive society integrated into the comity of nations or a pariah state where the fanatic would dictate his terms as to who has a right to live and who must die in this country.

However it is unfortunate that the present government is made up of indecisive cowards with no vision and leadership qualities, supplemented by character failings, plus involvement in every form of corruption and supreme interest lying in saving their own skins along with the perks, rather than fight this menace. There appears every likelihood that the bogey of extremism and intolerance is about to take out the entire civil society.

An abjectly poor, completely illiterate Christian woman from a little known hamlet of Punjab was destined to seal the fate of this nation.

(Waseem Altaf is a human rights activist).