The noble intentions of Salmaan Taseer

Published: January 4, 2011

The governor was one of the very few educated politicians who led and lived by his own set of rules.

When people pass on, you are suddenly bombarded with memories. Both significant and insignificant, random phrases from different conversations and events flood in.

With Salmaan Taseer, the only thing that flashes to my mind is his gallant, challenging smile.The smile that conveyed what his personality was all about – the lack of fear, the conviction in his own opinions, the zeal to do and say what he believed was correct and above all the refusal to back down under threats or pressure.

The governor was one of the very few educated politicians who led and lived by his own set of rules. His humour and his ability to point out the irony in any situation set him apart. Whether one agreed with his politics or not, no one can deny the fact that Salmaan Taseer had carved a very special niche for himself in Pakistan’s dirty political field.

His assassination doesn’t simply spell the loss of one leader it is an indicator of the danger that looms over everyone who dares to go beyond the norm in Pakistan.

The facts of January 4

The governor was entering his car after eating at a coffee shop in Kohsar Market in Islamabad when he was gunned down by his own guard. He sustained twenty-six bullet injuries and succumbed to death in the operation theatre.

The assassin, responsible for his security, a member of the Elite Force, was reportedly enraged over the governor’s stance on the Blasphemy Law.

The governor was then killed for expressing concerns over a law that has been the reason for baseless persecution of hundreds of people. He was killed for speaking out against the harassment meted out in the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) who chose to forgive people who pelted him with stones till his shoes were filled with blood.

“I fear not foreign flames”

“Mera azm itna bulund hai,

Parae sholon se dar nahin.

Mujhe dar hai tu atish-e-gul se hae,

Ye kahin chaman ko jala na dein”

Salmaan Taseer on Twitter

It is symbolic indeed that the man accused of not being religious enough was actually killed for taking a stand against a law that depicts the most intolerant face of Islam, the most tolerant religion in the world.

This individual killing can easily be linked with the numerous murders that are done in the name of Islam. Suicide attacks, sectarian killings, shrine bombings and the targeting of minorities – all in the name of Islam, highlight the ugliest face of the Pakistani society.

In a society as intolerant as ours, it takes a lot of nerve to come out and say something that has the potential of ruffling the wrong feathers. Salmaan Taseer had that nerve.

He did not just come out openly against the Blasphemy Law when Aasia Bibi’s case surfaced but continued to comment and condemn radicals and the rallies that were recently arranged against a proposed amendment in the law.

His Twitter updates from a few days back say:

“Trader bazaari mullah axis pressure from the street supporting blasphemy law. Same crowd that agitated against PPP in 1977 & welcomed Gen Zia.”

“Unimpressed by mullah rightest madrassa demo yesterday: small numbers abusive well organised no general public support”

On December 31, the governor made a morbidly prophetic statement on Twitter.

“I was under huge pressure to cow down b4 rightist pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I’m the last man standing.”

Salmaan Taseer’s assassination is meant to breed fear into the hearts of everyone who wants to oppose the mullah brigade. Let’s hope that instead of infusing fear in our hearts, his death jolts us into taking a stand against the trend to kill and maim voices of reason, to safeguard tolerance and the very spirit of Islam.


Sadaf Khan

A broadcast journalist based in Islamabad who was formerly associated with Geo News and Dunya News. She blogs at

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

  • Zeeshan H

    A great tribute to a brave man. Excellent work, Sadaf!Recommend

  • Zain Nadeem

    Sir Salman Taseer was a brave human , whos intentions were to do something better for humanity , its disturbing how same class of mullahas who declared Quaid-e-Azam as kafir-e-Azam are now declaring Salman taseer as Gustaq-e-Rasool . i hope tough punishment is awaiting that insane elite force guard .Recommend

  • @@

    He has indeed made a history and will be remembered throughout. I want to rephrase your words coz they depict my feelings too. “Whether one agreed with his politics or not, no one can deny the fact that Salmaan Taseer had carved a very special niche for himself in Pakistan’s dirty political field.” .Recommend

  • WIld_THing

    This for me is another black mark on our religions already tainted imageRecommend

  • Shoaib

    I totally agree, Very well written, We don’t want Mulla’s islam.
    Islam teaches us to forgive not to kill in the name of Islam.

    He took the right step coz by blaming you can easily take revenge from him. This law was misused a lot in the past. Recommend

  • The Only Normal Person Here.

    his shows that that extremism has penetrated everywhere. We shouldnt be surprised by this. Back in Musharraf era, when operation in Swat and Waziristan was going on, our Army (I still lub you) used to get themselves kidnapped and after ransom would be paid, they would come out all fine. That’s why back in 2009, Kiyani called the troops from Indian border and sent the ones in swat and Waziriztan to India. And we cleared that region within months.

    Zia recruited army and security enforcement should be watched over very carefully and suspended if suspected.

    Also combing out of illegal residents and raids on the spots which cause to generate money for talibans ( drugs area, illegal arms) is needed big time.

    suspected groups and persons would be arrested too. Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    Deen-e-mullah fi sabell-lilah Fasad (Iqbal)Recommend

  • Faheem Ahmad

    Another very sad day for Pakistan. The point here is that, Who will teach our nation not to go furious and think the right way? Who will tell them that Islam does not teach killing on the name of a Law which is already a bone of contention. Islam always gives a message of love and peace. Govt. should collect all Intellectuals & Islamic Scholars and take appropriate measures.Recommend

  • Fatima

    The idiosyncratic in his hatred didn’t grasp,that he has silenced a unique voice sanely defending Pakistan on core issues, notably Kashmir & KBD.

    Indeed a cowardly, inhumane act. A great politician is lost. Recommend

  • Adeel

    It seems we are heading towards Afghanistan. Clerics are not condemning this act. The problem is they are quoting Hadiths where blashpemous (including women) are ordered to killed. Now I don’t know about others but now I have started to doubt about my religion. There are lot of question in my mind about Islam. If this is what islam is and that hadiths quoted by clerics are genuiine then lot of questions are coming in my mind.I will read other religions now. I hope I have atlest this freedom in this country and will not be killed. Do I have this freedom?Recommend

  • http://Faisalabad Mubarak

    This insane elite force guard has sane friends in the judiciary who will set him free due to ‘lack of evidence’ and mullahs will declare him savour of honour of Prophet (SAW). There is no hope for this unfortunate land called ‘land of the pure’. May Allah Almighty give high station to Salmaan Taseer in paradise for his stand for the voiceless among people of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Usama Zafar

    @ Adeel
    Well Ive also had the same kind of thoughts but I have reached a conclusion that the problem is not with Islam but it is with the way our people have interpreted it. Have a look at the link below it’s a very nice article related to Islam and the blasphemy law. I am sure it will make you feel better!!

  • Imran siddiqui

    We, the Pakistanis are in a state of denial that nothing is happening but the fact is our country has been hijacked by Mullahs. Their emotional speeches can easily turn any person into a real extremist. You can only save yourself when you read and research the beautiful religion. Blind faith on Mullahs will not only harm you but your family, your friends and your country will suffer too.

    I was in my primary class when I read the beautiful act of my beloved Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H that how he had forgiven the old-lady who used to throw the rubbish on him and how she accepted the Islam when Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H went to visit her during her illness. I also remember the act of Taif’s naughty kids who stoned the Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H to the extent where his shoe was filled with the blood but he made the supplication for them.
    Did these things really happen? Are these events not ideal examples of blasphemy? Are these above mentioned events not crystal-clear about the Sunnah of my Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H? How Javed Ghamidi’s any statement is contradictory to Prophet’s Sunnah? Why Salman Taseer shot to death?

    I salute Mr Javed Ghamidi the way he is preaching the contemporary interpretation of Islam with the retention of its true essence despite the huge resistance in the form of extremism and madness of mullahs.
    Despite all my political conflicts with Mr Salman Taseer I also salute him the way he took the stand for a poor Christian lady who is behind the bar for nothing. May Allah rest his soul in peace. Ameen!Recommend

  • Tippu

    I never liked u salman taseer until you stood up for the right of a poor woman to serve water to the thirsty folks who now want her dead. You sir, should be saluted.

    Rest in peace and may Allah bless your soul. Recommend

  • Hasan

    Let’s hope that instead of infusing fear in our hearts, his death jolts us into taking a stand against the trend to kill and maim voices of reason, to safeguard tolerance and the very spirit of Islam.

    The questions is, how much long will it take for the ‘educated’ masses in Pakistan to realize they are playing in the hands of the Mullah. Isn’t it time to stop this Mullahism? How many more incidents like this do we need to realize?Recommend

  • nina

    Islam is the most beautiful and peaceful religion of mankind. However, it is not being understood properly as people nowadays do not want to spend the time and effort to study its divine beauty and simplicity. We all are so engrossed in worldly pursuits and worldly education that hardly any of us truly knows Islam. The funny thing is that whenever religious issues do come to the forefront and it doesn’t suit the liking of some people, then they start yelling “Mullah this, Mullah that”, and this type of speech only displays their sheer ignorance. As Muslim Pakistanis, we owe it to ourselves to study hadiths, Quran etc. and know for ourselves what is right and wrong, rather than just blindly follow what others say to us. This way we the citizens of Pakistan will be able to spread the message of Islam.

    Really sorry for the murder of Governor Taseer, because first and foremost he was a human being and all human life is sacred.

    @Adeel, I feel sorry for you because you have doubts about Islam as you seem to rely on what others say rather than doing your own homework.Recommend

  • Dr Muhammad

    Until Pakistan has a bloody civil war, and all sons and grandsons of Zia Ul Haq are killed, the country and society will never be able to make a fresh start in a new directionRecommend

  • Gilani

    Who is Smiling,,,,

    I tell you the sign of a believer; When Death comes, there is a smile on his lips.” Muhammad Iqbal quote Recommend

  • Ehtisham Rizvi

    I would recommend reading about various sects in Islam, maybe someone out there can answer your questions. And offcourse you have the freedom to read about other religions, just dont tell anyone about it :)

    and yes I firmly believe that Pakistan will be exactly like Afghanistan in a decade, to tell you the truth I am a bit envious of Bangladesh now, they aborted ship at the right time.

    @the author:
    very well written, yesterday was a sad day indeed, may Salman Taseer rest in peace.Recommend

  • Angela Y.


    while you’re at reading up on other religions.. how about you study Islam on your own too, instead of listening and believing anything and everything, any individual claiming to be a religious scholar declares… e.g. here’s an alternate interpretation offered regarding blasphemy in light of the same religion >>>

    @Sadaf .. sweet tribute and Amen to your wish/prayer at the end. Recommend

  • Erfan


    Heading towards Afghanistan? Dude Pakistan played vital role in fact responsible for setting up this mentality in Afghanistan. We have used this mentality for our advantage for years in Afghanistan. Recommend

  • Majid Maqsood

    Its start of End, Sulman taseer was so liberal, mystic and looking forward man. It is big loss of Punajb and its liberal class. Its high time for liberal class of Punjab to stand up against those who want to impose ideology what they belong! Recommend

  • Sulaiman Barry

    What if I pay huge money that is beyond your imagination to change the law and critise ur the your role model? Think about it….Recommend

  • Sulaiman Barry

    Agree to social and religious tolerance… but aren’t the people tolerating enough already in the form of economic and political games?Recommend

  • Hina

    Most of us are able to appreciate his conviction after his assassination. A pity.Recommend

  • Muslim

    When the govt completely disregards the feelings of its masses (ordinary citizens), then such nasty occurences like the taseer killing are bound to occur because people are forced into frustrated actions like what happened. public support for taseer’s assasin is enough proof of what the people want. If the govt continues to disregard its citizens life and their sentiments then Pakistan might have a bloody revolution similar to the French revolution. Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    @Imran siddiqui: “Our country has been hijacked by mullahs”……please narrate the grandeur achievements of Pakistan when it was not “hijacked by mullahs” Recommend

  • http://hongkong wahab

    The sad part is that some people were throwing stones at his murder and students giving him valentines gifts.. Just wondering how divided we are as a nation.. We have extremists right in our ranks..Yes we dont like it when others say this.. But yeah we haveRecommend

  • Agha Asad Raza

    Despite Salman Taseer’s other shortcomings, I stand by him in his condemnation of the so called Islam being destroyed by idiot and illiterate mullahs. Islam is a religion of peace and forgiveness, a religion like no other. Educated and sensible people should stand up and rally against these maulvis for their effort to destroy the Islam of our Prophet (pbuh)Recommend