Assassination of Salmaan Taseer -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Assassination of Salmaan Taseer

EDITORIAL: The assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer in an upscale Islamabad locality, on a foggy Tuesday afternoon, graphically plays out the high drama of the difficult and torturous times the people of Pakistan are presently passing through. The best available security cover had failed to secure the life of the governor – because the assassin was his own bodyguard.

Why the potential killer was part of the governor’s security detail is something for the investigators to look into. But it would be quite unrealistic to think that you would have absolutely neutral and non-aligned security personnel, when the polity stands divided along one thousand lines. It was coming, and Governor Taseer knew it. He had been receiving threats ever since he decided to stand up for Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted in a blasphemy case.

His was a dangerous stand, given that in this Muslim country defiance of the commandments of God earns one nothing short of what Governor Taseer received, although his stand was for revisiting the man-made law. According to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the killer was ‘instigated by Taseer’s recently dubbing the blasphemy law as a black law’.

Salmaan Taseer was taken more as a legacy of General Pervez Musharraf than an appointee of President Zardari. Ideologically, he was the proponent of Musharraf’s ‘enlightened moderation’, and his was essentially a lone furrow, not shared by the PPP leadership. No wonder, Law Minister Babar Awan had stoutly rejected his call to amend the blasphemy law by the parliament, while the others in the PPP high command were conspicuously non-committal on this issue.

There should be no doubt about the high sentimentality an utterance derogatory to the personage of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) can evoke in a Muslim society. One could not rule out the possibility that over time, the alleged killer of Governor Taseer may/will be treated as reincarnation of Ghazi Ilm-ud-Din and his prosecution will become problematic.

The aftermath of this incident is bound to be uproarious with potential to further divide the society along the lines of moderation and extremism. Of course, it is for the government to secure calm and sanity, but in it, there is a role clearly cut out for the religious leadership. No doubt, the sanctity of the finality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the Last Prophet is an essential part of our faith and there can be no discussion about it.

But how to ensure implementation of this cardinal principle is presently a question that emerges from the said anti-blasphemy enactment, which is man-made and can be revisited to ensure its more effective implementation according to the true spirit of Islam. May be it needs to be further strengthened. But, certainly, such an exercise is beyond the purview of the parliament and only religious scholars can make this happen. The government must engage with eminent religious scholars, who are not in short supply in Pakistan, and seek their guidance.

At the same time, it is imperative in the national interest and the much-needed political harmony that rules are more clearly defined and enforced to ensure that constitutional offices like the provincial governorship are not rendered controversial by the incumbents’ personal likes and dislikes. All that had been going on in Lahore between the late governor and the chief minister and his ministers was uniquely unprecedented.

May be it was Salmaan Taseer’s ultra-liberal worldview, bordering on nihilistic anarchism, or his passion to act as the Sharifs’ nemesis to avenge his earlier incarceration at their hands that made him walk the lonely path. But he was definitely not in line with his colleagues in the other three provinces.

However, there is no denying that Salmaan Taseer, who came from a middle class family, earned his status by sheer hard work and held his gubernatorial office more in the style of his colonial predecessors and he will go down in history as a free spirit that roamed far and wide, defying the dangers that always lurked around him.
Source: Business Recorder
Date:1/6/2011