Stories about Salman Taseer

Ahsan Iqbal was shot but the bullets were provided by the very hands he shakes

As I write this, the country is still reeling from the shock of an assassination attempt on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal. I am grateful that the minister has survived and is on his way to recovery. The accused attacker, who has been caught, claims to have attempted this assassination on the pretext of protecting “Khatm-e-Nabuwat” (finality of Prophethood). Considering the fact that Ahsan himself is a religious and a very decent person, this is an extremely dangerous development. It shows that now, literally, anyone could be a target, if some fanatic believes that he or she has violated the sanctity ...

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The jury and the executioner: Misusing the blasphemy law for personal vengeance

A few days ago, I came across a headline that shook me to the core. A student killed his principal in Charsadda, on the pretext that the man had committed blasphemy by merely reprimanding him for his absence from school. The student had skipped school to attend the infamous Faizabad sit-in. The fact that the dharna was supposedly conducted for the protection of the finality of prophethood, and his principal indirectly rebuking him for attending it, was enough for the student to justify killing him. Over the past several years, I have witnessed several incidents in which blasphemy was used as a pretext for framing and killing individuals. There ...

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Is it really the end of the Islamic State?

On November 21, 2017, media outlets reported that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared the end of the so-called Islamic State (IS). Soon after, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met with Syria’s Bashar al Assad, and then with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, all three intent on reinforcing their hegemonies. Regime change in Syria now seems even more unlikely, not to mention justice for the victims of Assad’s war crimes. Erdogan will continue to silence opposition and allocate more resources in his offensive against the Kurds, while Putin strengthens ties with two allies in the Middle East. Thus, even without the IS, the ...

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Who controls the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

If I were to rank the worst weeks in the recent history of Pakistan, this one would most definitely be a strong contender for the top. The week, which also witnessed the release of Hafiz Saeed, much to the dismay of the outside world, reached its crescendo when yesterday, Pakistan saw its elected government, with supposedly a heavy majority, capitulate in front of a few thousand zealots. The hopes that had been raised when the government initiated a crackdown on Saturday were quickly dashed when the crackdown was suspended, and subsequently transformed into horror when the government proceeded to yield to the unreasonable demands of the ...

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Why do most Pakistanis always favour the ‘wrong’ side of any issue?

Most issues aren’t black and white – they’re grey. More often than not, we read about an event or hear about it in the news, and while our personal views dictate what side we’re on, it is not unfathomable that other people might not see it the way we do. However, have you ever read about an issue and thought, “wow, this seems pretty black and white to me”? And then seen the reaction of people around you, as they somehow invent new colours just to add more sides to seemingly uncomplicated issues? This is quite frequently the case in Pakistan, ...

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The problem with Imran Khan’s CNN interview is his hypocrisy that is too palpable to ignore

In an era of hyper-nationalism bordering on fascist tendencies, a strongly crafted statement works wonders for your public image.  This is exactly what we witnessed recently. America’s recent tragedy, otherwise also known as President Donald Trump, was found to be ruffling some spiteful feathers yet again. But Trump said what all American leaders have already said about Pakistan (we’ve been compared to cancer and called an international migraine, for starters). He also threatened Pakistan with the stoppage of American aid if we don’t “do more”. Been there, heard that. In came Imran Khan to rescue Pakistan from this shared sense of shame. In ...

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Remembering my father, Salmaan Taseer, and his love for pranks on his 73rd birthday

At last I’m able to laugh about my father, Salmaan Taseer, and remember the good times without anger and sadness. More than six years after his death, I found myself at a dinner table with the company coiled in helpless laughter over my Abba’s stories. As today would be his 73rd birthday, I’m happy to share his light-hearted side and humour. Abba had the most wicked sense of humour. Friends, relatives or his children were not immune from his tricks, pranks and one-liners, and all who knew him will attest to his fun and vivacious side. He always managed to spontaneously highlight the comical side ...

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Facebook: It’s high time you control hate speech in languages other than English!

The increased role of social media recently has been fundamental in guiding social debates and forming narratives of people at large. It has posed many challenges in different parts of the world. On one hand, there are autocratic governments trying to ban Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp while on the other, there is a scuffle between law enforcement authorities and the social media giants over the demand to hand over a user’s data. The revolutionary rise of social media owing to its widespread popularity has also brought a range of issues to our already polarised society, one of them being the evolution of hard-core Islamists. The Urdu content on social media ...

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The world will judge Islam by the way Muslims behave in the name of Islam

A year ago, the government took a bold decision by hanging Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of late Salman Taseer. The funeral, despite the media’s lack of coverage, was attended by thousands of people, highlighting the appeal of a man who was nothing but a murderer. One year later, thousands of hardliners defied the rally ban to attend his first death anniversary. The sad reality is that for many, Qadri is a hero, and the significant percentage of those who disagree with his actions have an “empathetic” attitude towards him. I have heard people coming up with all kinds of justifications ...

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The mantle of religious interpretation needs to be taken away from the clergy

I have often been more amazed not at the religious fanaticism of the few, but at passivity of the moderate majority. And although sceptics will cast their doubt, the fact is that Pakistan on the whole has a moderate population. In Pakistan, comparable fervour is dominant only in pockets. Yes, this is a country which has Taliban but it is also a country where people have largely voted for moderate parties. This is a country which despite being conservative has never voted the clergy into power. It has a relatively independent media and entertainment avenues are more eclectic compared to ...

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