Salmaan Taseer: The death of a governor

Published: January 4, 2011

Salmaan Taseer was shot dead in a market in Islamabad

In life, Salmaan Taseer was never afraid of controversy and was never one to remain silent even when his stance on issues like militancy and the blasphemy law brought the venom of the right wing pouring on to him.

Known as much for his ubiquitous dark glasses as his continuous sparring with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), he was a man you could love or hate, but never ignore.

In a time when obscurantists and terrorists have tried to silence our voices and strike off the heads of those who dared oppose them, Taseer spoke without fear, condemning the blasphemy law and those who stood in its defence, despite the very real threat of violent retribution.

His death is more than a political assassination. It is a message to all those who believe in justice, law and humanity, that the cancer of extremism and intolerance is one that is on the verge of devouring us. It is a call for us to remain silent and supine in the face of terror, to bow our heads before the edifice of fanaticism or else have our heads struck off.

His blood is not just on the hands of the man who fired the shots; the collective guilt must be borne by all those who have rallied in the support of the ‘blacker than sin’ blasphemy law. Equally guilty are all those parties and politicians who have, whether through fear or conviction, resisted any attempts to change and amend this dark legacy of Ziaul Haq.

We are also to blame who, in our own complacency and detachment, have ceded our religion to brutal murderers.

Salmaan Taseer died a martyr’s death, killed for a cause he truly believed in and we are so much poorer for his absence.


Zarrar Khuhro

Is currently working at Dawn TV and was the editor of The Express Tribune weekly magazine.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Amna Mela

    “His death is more than a political assassination. It is a message to all those who believe in justice, law and humanity, that the cancer of extremism and intolerance is one that is on the verge of devouring us. It is a call for us to remain silent and supine in the face of terror, to bow our heads before the edifice of fanaticism or else have our heads struck off.” That’s why I cried until I was exhausted today.

    I never thought I’d cry for Benazir Bhutto. Dec 27 changed that. I never thought I’d cry for Salmaan Taseer. Today changed that. -Urooj Zia

    9 bullets cause he stood up for a christian woman. -Sana SaleemRecommend

  • Asad Shairani

    Very true.Recommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    Salman Taseer: May ALLAH (SWT) rest his soul in peace and May ALLAH (SWT) give his family the courage to bear this loss

    Yet another political murder, Yet again bloodshed, Yet again PPP is targeted and this time it isn’t a Sindhi its a Punjabi Governor. 1st Governor in History of Pakistan to be assassinated while he was in office. I wish and I pray that culprits can be brought to justice but keeping in view the history of political murders from Liaqat Ali Khan to Benazir Bhutto this isn’t looking possible. President, PM, CM, Interior Minister will condemn this and will call for initial inquiry report to be provided within 24 hours and then that report will also be laid to rest froever in the graveyard :(Recommend

  • IZ

    Unbelievable. I never had much liking for the Salman Taseer the politician, but he was one of the few public leaders who took a bold public stand for justice in the case of the disgusting blasphemy law. And he paid for it with his life. Very sad – I don’t know where this country is heading.Recommend

  • Ahsan

    Verge of getting devoured??? we’re pretty much halfway digested by now don’t you think…?

    hey heres a cool page for you…

    check out the comments of celebration…disgusting!!Recommend

  • Coffee Addict

    May his soul rest in peace. Recommend

  • Yasser Chattha

    The socalled bigot mullahs are murderers in the guise of that idiot security guard…!!!Recommend

  • Waleed Khan

    Never cared for Salman Taseer . I Hate PPP and their corruption. But he stood by a poor woman and took the bullet for her.

    Hats off Salman taseer. May you enter heaven.

    The religious fanatics can tolerate corruption but can’t tolerate someone speaking his mind.Recommend

  • Armughan

    Its a sad event, indeed is form more then one aspect.

    My question is that a no of comments and the article itself calls it a black law. Can someone please put forward the text of the law itself? Or is it just liberal babblery on the basis of hearsay? In no way i am against people expressing views, i do that a lot myself but they should be based on substance. Blasphemy is a sensitive topic and indeed needs to be addressed with a lot of care and as per Islamic laws. Some experts suggest that changes need to be made. I guess the Islamic Ideological Council should be brought in and this issue discussed.

    P.S. If someone has a link for those mere mortals who can not understand the whole text from tv discussions and need actual substance to understand, i would highly appreciate it. Recommend

  • imran khan abro

    i love salman taseerRecommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    These guys have held the minds of country hostage… freedom of expression died another death in this country ….this ‘land of the pure’….couldn’t be a bigger oxymoron than this..Recommend

  • Armughan
  • shayma

    may your soul rest in peace- Sher-e-Punjab, you stood up for a helpless, poor woman, and you will be forever remembered…Recommend

  • Adil

    Dear Pakistani Brothers and Sisters: Indeed it is a sad day that a governor of our nation a Muslim a Pakistani has been killed! In refrence to comments on Mullahs being murderers is not correct. I urge you all to read and educate yourself on the issue and foundation of this nation.


    It is every Pakistani duty Muslim or non Muslim to uphold the Islamic laws of this country.
    Is assasination the punishment. Absolutely Not!! There is court of law to turn to. But there should be accountability so people understand the reason for the independence of our nation was to have a soverighn Islamic Republic!!

    Asia BiBi commited a crime and should be brought to justice. The Governor (May Allah rest his soul) was resolving the issue but should have considred that complete pardon was not the course of action to be taken. Also the Governor (May Allah rest his soul) had an extremely liberal view and being a leader and representing a prominent province of Pakistan was not acceptable. If he want to represent people of an Islamic Republic he must take care and reponsibilty of citizens abusing Islam.
    I ask all of you to tell me if I am wrong. It is important for all of us to question how well the leaders of this nation are taking responsibility of representing an Islamic Republic.

    The haji’s of were abused mistreated and looted by a ministry and neglegted by the President and Prime Minister. Why??? They were treated in the Holy Land inhumanely by our own goverment. Not one day did the President or Prime Minister take heed of their depair. Why???

    The PM is not intrested in bringing justice to you and me. Why???? We are the nation we are the people he represents. We are the tax payers.

    Brothers and Sisters elite class is controlling our minds and abusing us to the point that our quality of life has become depair. Why?????Recommend

  • xeeshan

    It is their religion. You haven’t ceded anything that wasn’t theirs in the first place.Recommend

  • xeeshan

    Moderate Muslims don’t have a leg to stand uponRecommend

  • Humanity

    Moderate Muslims are “thaali kaa baigun” .. they go the way the wind blows as they have lost their spines :(Recommend

  • Humanity

    The red-blood fruit that the tree of hatred begets ..

    Humanity is already dead, when an individual’s morality become a law unto itself. This is how this game of mixing state and religion is played when individuals take the matter of morality into their own hands to dispense ‘justice’ however they see fit. A human is the worst animal when s/he is taken over by ignorance.

    Every one better watch out for your own backs now. Pakistan claimed to have been made in the name of religion is being destroyed by religion. How ironic!Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    His death was a shock and the reaction of the public (or indifference) was an even bigger shock.
    Yeh lash-e-bay-e-kafan Asad-e-Khasta tan ki hai
    Haq majhfirat karay ajab azad mard tha (Ghalib)
    RIP – Salman Taseer (when comes such another).Recommend

  • Lelomaye

    Adil – Please stop! It’s exactly because of this thought process that has resulted in the degradation and rampant intolerance in our society. If you can’t offer condolences, kindly stop being your condescending mullah self. Recommend

  • Ahmad Malik

    It’s a story of that roots to intolerance generated by illiteracy and relentless self-righteousness.

  • Yaldrum

    Oh give me a break just because he was shot dead by an idiot all of a sudden he is to become hero or a some folk figure. Recommend

  • faraz

    He had the courage for stand up to mullahs; thats enough to make him a heroRecommend

  • M.Khan

    @ Yaldrum: He was killed because he took a stand for something he believed in, while I’m not trying to tout him as a hero, that was certainly something to appreciate. I wasn’t much of a fan of Taseer’s but he definitely didn’t deserve to die like this. Intolerance is destroying our country.Recommend

  • M.Khan

    @ Adil: Asia Bibi committed no crime. She is the victim in this case. She was abused by a group of hypocritical people who call themselves Muslims. Any Muslim in their right mind would know that what these people did to her was in clear violation of everything Islam teaches. Instead of upholding the values of Islam by defending this woman, people like you are continuing to mislead the public. I don’t know when “Muslims” will actually begin understanding Islam and the Quran instead of only memorizing Arabic verses without any idea of their meaning. Please don’t use Taseer’s assassination to make a case against the corruption of our politicians. These are two different issues.Recommend

  • Asad Ahmad

    He becomes a hero because he was one of the few people brave enough to stand against a mindless, discriminatory and stupid law. We should all attempt to lead our lives the best we can and leave the judging of piety and intentions to Allah.Recommend

  • Ahmad Malik

    It is a story that roots down to downright intolerance generated by illiteracy and relentless self-righteousness.
    Salmaan Taseer was never my hero, but he died of a sin he didn’t commit.Recommend

  • fawad

    Mr. Taseer never abused Islam, he abused the black law of Blasphamy which is made by the fanatic relgious minds in zia era…not by Quran….How a person can be sentenced to death on his or her religious views or if someone has said something wrong about the relgious personalities? Let Allah and his beloved prophet (pbuh) take the revenge and show them the right path….who the hell are we to take a life of a person?

    This is indeed a black law and must be removedRecommend

  • Liaquat Ali

    The Qur’an in its characteristically mature style instructs Muslims to “change the channel” when they walk upon senseless speech then disengage for a short period of time (6:68), even wish peace and amicably disengage on a long-term basis (28:55), and finally “agree to disagree” by declaring “To you be your Way, and to me mine.” (109:6)

    Lesson: Peaceful handling of ignorant people’s utterances while preserving freedom of speech and belief.

    There are numerous stories in the Qur’an where people mocked their respective prophets and they were punished not necessarily by the followers of the prophet but through courses of events.

    Yes, it is natural to get upset when the most honorable person (pbuh) to Muslims is mocked. However, our hands are tied because of the above verse. That is, to leave it on Allah to take care of these kinds of offenses.Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    Never liked Taseer ….but the guy never deserved this….40 bullets for speaking out against a man-made interpretation of a complex scripture by clerics who have the IQ and exposure of lobotomized mice means is ridiculous…..bruce springsteen’s ’41 shots’ comes to mind

    the problem now is….if you have any confusion, or question related to islam, or anything slightly controversial, then we cannot ask that question because somebody might decide that we have ‘blasphemed’…..and will be slaughtered…Recommend

  • Barooq

    The response of people to this tragedy, if anything reinforces the desperation of secular/liberal class that the county is going beyond redemption.

    Where is hope to look for when your own friends celebrate a senseless death in the name of God ?

    If anyone we are failing this country.
    We, who are too afraid to get up and have let these religious nut cases run amok.

    I’ve felt such helplessness and such sheer abjection.

    Please, don’t let his death go to waste.
    Remember him and let him inspire usRecommend

  • Amer

    Oh please! Give me a freaking break! Just because a nut case killed the dude, doesn’t make him a national hero or a saint etc. He was a Zardari crony and remained that till the second he died! Enough said!
    ! Recommend

  • Noor-ul-ain Hanif

    a big lossRecommend

  • parvez

    Astonishing that nothing has been said about the killer’s radically bigoted mind and more importantly the framers and implementers of the policy that has created people such as him.Recommend

  • Humanity

    @Amer “Oh please! Give me a freaking break! Just because a nut case killed the dude, doesn’t make him a national hero”

    Neither would it make you a hero should some one would pump 40 bullets in you because s/he disagrees with what you say.

    Please grow up and try to understand the gravity and depravity of the action of an individual taking a life because his warped sense of morality. The coward Qadri acted like God. Qadri is a blasphemer with blood on his hands. The Islamic law of a life for a life should be carried out for Qadri, if the ghairut brigade is not hypocrite.Recommend

  • Anoop

    The most shocking thing is so many people support the killer. Even the International media has picked it up.Recommend

  • Ammar

    @Fawad, M.Khan, and likes:

    This is a sick society we live in. Please be careful with your words, lest you be called infidels and wajibul qatal. There is not much hope for revival of reason, logic, justice, and humanity in this society. This is a real misery; I don’t have words to express my feelings. Its dark here and there is no signs of ray of hope. But my senses keep telling me that this darkness is not forever. Just a fool’s hope!Recommend

  • Belal

    Nisar tere galiyon pe e watan – ke jahan chali hai rasum ke koi na sar utha ke chale — faiz.Recommend

  • Fasih Ali Khan

    @Amna Mela:

    Ditto ….. My Feelings are the same. Hats Off to you Mr. Governor. Death to the Terrorism and the Terrorists. Whole of Sincere Pakistan moans for you. May his Sould rest in peace. Ameen.Recommend

  • Arshad Saeed Khan

    Dear all Bloggers, may I request you to please study thoroughly to Quran & Sunnah before post your blogs without your personal statements (which mostly yield from rumors – I mean “Suni-sunai baat”). We always criticize “Maulvi or Mullah” & forget that when we goes to final destination; these Maulvi perform last prayer “Namaz-e-Janaza” which is unfortunately not perform properly at Salman Taseer’s funeral, didn’t you noticed.Recommend

  • abdur rehman

    i hated him when he was alive but he shouldn’t have been killed.Recommend

  • Zahoor

    Pakistan is islamic country. We have an elected governoment in our country and it operates under one rule — or Its not possible to approve any rule which is against Islam. and also no one is allowed to take rules in his hands. Every one has right to share his opinion in the limits of respect.Recommend

  • Zaryab Khan

    Can any of the so-called liberal intellectuals tell me whats wrong in the blasphemy law for which you call it “blacker than a sin”? Has any of you even seen its text once?

    Can anyone tell me on what basis you say Aasia Bibi is innocent even after the court has sentenced her? Do you know the facts of the matter? Did you record the court hearings and the material and evidences presented and discussed there?

    Can any of you share these?

    If not, then shame on all self-proclaimed “intellectuals”. Please gain some knowledge before forming views let alone expressing them.Recommend

  • vlad

    i think that your country is descending into chaos. you are killing people for speaking out loud. you are lower life forms than animals. what the hell is there that makes you want to kill people that speak out loud and take you out of the dark ages?Recommend