Salmaan Taseer’s sacrifice was in vain

Published: January 4, 2012

One year on from the assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, and all debate on amending the blasphemy laws has essentially come to a close.

I do not blame individual citizens for this. Given the prevailing extremist temperament in the country, it is next to impossible to effectively stand up to what is, at the end of the day, a case of bullying in the name of religion.

Given the kind of organisation and capabilities the extremists/militants have, it is very difficult for the average man or woman, appalled at the rapid rise of violent radicalism in the country, to speak out. It is not just the (very real) threat of violence that is the problem, but it is the possibility that one’s aunt, uncle, cousin, parent, or peers might have also fallen prey to this radical mindset.

In such an environment, first and foremost, it is the government that should come to the rescue, setting a precedent for what is and is not acceptable. It is the courts that should have kicked into action and delivered justice. It is the media that should have responded, reported, and questioned effectively.

So, I do not blame the individuals. I blame our institutions for failing to act in this matter across 2011, though they were given plenty of opportunities to do so. Perhaps blame is too strong a word – lets just say as a concerned citizen of Pakistan, I was hoping for better, and I got nothing.

We lost Salmaan Taseer, and while his assassin was sentenced to death, we all know who has won that battle; we lost Shahbaz Bhatti, and we all know who has won that battle; we have lost countless minorities in violent deaths across 2011, and it is clear who is winning the battle.

The marginalisation that is now upon us is alienating far more than just minorities from the notion of nationhood. I am a minority. I live in fear. I feel hopeless often, and my situation is a lot more comfortable than that of many others.

Salmaan Taseer’s death, as Saroop Ijaz wrote, was a defining one for Pakistan. It was tragic. It was a sacrifice, and it was in vain.

It is the futility of trying that cuts the deepest.

Jahanzaib Haque

Jahanzaib Haque

News buff and Web Editor, The Express Tribune. Jahanzaib tweets @Jhaque_

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

  • Anthony Permal

    Fair point.

    But I still believe things will change. Slowly, but they will. Every great society has gone through the darkest moments of its history before bringing forth its new dawn. America killed and marginalised its own, Germany was wrecked, left alone, bombed, even split, and yet today is a powerhouse, Japan was arrogantly war-headed. Yet today it is a force of reckoning and self-sufficient.

    This is not the end. I promise you, looking at the promise of our youth today, this is the start.Recommend

  • saira amjad

    well said.The way he was disowned by his own party was most shocking.PPP totally raised its hands up in front of the religious fascists.They didn’t support him at all when he needed it the most.The mullahs felt emboldened by the meek surrender of taseer’s party and they went on the offensive,forbidding people from attending taseer’s funeral.
    the way qadri the killer was glorified and praised indicates the extent to which our society has degenerated,our people support a deranged killer,they support any criminal who says he committed his crime in the name of religion.Recommend

  • imran khan

    Anyone with a functioning brain is under threat in pakistan.If you like a zombie accept everything that the maulvis and ulema say then only you are safe and sound in pakistan,otherwise if you dare question the absurdities,the hate,the misogyny and homophobia,you are instantly declared ‘wajib-ul-qatal’ by the mullahs.As long as you have a closed,unquestioning mind,you’ll be fine in our country.Recommend

  • Chengez K

    Ironically the only common thing between Mumtaz Qadri & Salman Taseer was that they were both used……They also both believed that they were fighting for their convictions.

    Salman Taseer was used by the western paid liberal forces who ditched him the moment he took the stand…..Mumtaz Qadri was backed by the so called Islamic forces who used to be paid for decades by CIA to act as bulwark against the reds….. Recommend

  • sadia siddiqui

    @Chengez K:

    no body needs to pay anyone to speak people are so brainwashed that you think that being secular,liberal or atheist equals being amreeki.Being secular has nothing to do with the ‘west’ the islamic fanatics are so obsessed about.Using one’s brains to criticise what’s wrong is a moral thing,not a western thing.Recommend

  • Zaid Hamid

    It did not go in vain… We got an Ashiq-e-Rasool… we will make him sipahsalar in ghazwa-e-hind… and after conquering India we will make him nawab of bongipurRecommend

  • Chengez K

    @sadia siddiqui:

    Of course Salman Taseer was ditched in the middle….nobody was ready to stand with him….President Zaardai who had send him to jail to meet Asia BIBI then disappeared in the president house…Rehamn Malik who was brought from U.K to become Pakistan interior minister said I would also do what Mumtaz Qadri had done……..

    Furthermore if poor Salman Taseer was not used by the western paid liberal forces then why does not any one remember Asia Bibi any more? Where is the world press & liberals….? Apart from Salman Taseer family which liberal has suffered??Recommend

  • narayana murthy

    @Zaid hamid.

    I think you have some genuine talent in writing. You should seriously try your hand in parody writing.Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Anthony Permal

    Hey, by accident I found you on Twitter recently. Liked what I saw. You seem like a good Christian, willing to forgive (at least some people) and to separate religion from politics. Also, it’s human to have hope whichever way one wants the world to go. Recommend

  • RajX

    @Zaid Hamid: :-). Good plan. And you, Zaid Hameed, will be the Ameer al-Mu’mineen.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The failure of the state is staring us in the face and we are failing in our duty to do something about it. Recommend

  • Faz

    What is the point in stating “we all know, who won the battle”? First there was never a battle, i don’t know what is the idea behind the use of such phrases ?

    Simply, the assassination was a crime committed and the killer has been already sentenced once. He has appealled against the sentence and its his right, so let him go through the judicial process. Now what is the hurry, the point that it was a crime has already been established by the court of law. Whatelse is desired, what is the noise all about ? Eventually justice will be served and excecuted. Recommend

  • The Truth

    Salaman Taseer didn’t do any scarifice.Recommend

  • Javed

    “The marginalisation that is now upon us is alienating far more than just minorities from the notion of nationhood. I am a minority. I live in fear. I feel hopeless often, and my situation is a lot more comfortable than that of many others.”

    This reeks of the usual urban paranoia of the liberals in this country. It is as if they live in constant fear of being who they are and how the rest of the whole wide is against them and their convictions. Lately, there has been a rising trend in this country, whether by deliberate design or mere chance, to label one’s self with petty titles such as liberals, conservatives, extremists etc etc. It seems that the people in this country have finally started to take themselves seriously, but for all the wrong reasons!Recommend

  • Asad

    He lived a vain life and his death was as vain…Recommend

  • PeacefullMuslim

    Did he sacrifice?? Recommend

  • Farrukh

    how can you call that a sacrifice? irrespective of religious sensitivities he challenged the letter of the law which he took oath to uphold. press conference in a police station along with a convicted individual is not an act of bravery by any means…. Recommend

  • sajjo

    Hi Jahanzaib
    are you Christian? Its a shame minorities get persecuted, and this happens all over the world in different ways. Why can’t we all just be tolerant?Recommend