Dr. Liaqat M. Qaiser: WHERE IS MY COUNTRY GOING?
January 30, 2011
A crippling fear still rules the general atmosphere of Pakistan after the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, the 66 years old Governor of the most populated province of Punjab on the 4th of January 2011.
The murderer was Mr. Mumtaz Qadri who was a policeman of Elite force whose duty was to protect the Governor but he instead shot 26 bullets at him and killed him in the capital city of Islamabad in the broad day light in a crowded area of a marketplace. None of the other police force present shot a single fire at the murderer. After his arrest at the spot, Mr. Mumtaz Qadri proudly confessed that he has killed the one who insulted the prophet of Islam and who had called the blasphemy law of Pakistan a “black law”. The governor never actually spoke the blasphemous words against the prophet; he only spoke against the already controversial law which is called the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Controversial because often the law is used to settle personal disputes, specially the minorities of the country and particularly the Christians who are among the poorest in the country.
Asia Bibi, a Christian woman’s case is in hand. The Muslim neighboring women had a quarrel with Asia in 2009 and later with the help of the local Muslim priest accused her of saying blasphemous words against the prophet. Asia was first beaten by the neighbors and later called the police who arrested her and registered a case under blasphemy law called 295 C. The judge gave Asia the death sentence. Governor Salmaan Taseer went out to visit Asia Bibi in prison cell and defended this helpless poor woman of the minority community of Pakistan. He also called upon the political forces to repeal the law because it is being misused by the people to suppress the minorities and therefore is discriminatory. Salmaan Taseer had always been a bold voice to speak for the Pakistani minorities. He was an honest, transparent and patriotic politician of Pakistan and a very successful businessman and always a strong defense of the defenseless. The defense of Asia Bibi cost him his life.
However, it was not Salmaan Taseer who was declared a hero but the murderer. When Mr. Mumtaz Qadri was brought in the court the huge joyful enthusiastic crowd was throwing rose petals on him. Hundreds of lawyers volunteered to defend the murderer free of cost. Thousands were kissing his hands. Other thousands, addressing the authorities, were shouting to free Mr. Mumtaz Qadri. Several large banners were hung overnight in the cities of Pakistan that saluted the greatness of the assassin in reference to his love for Islam. The religious political leaders led large rallies to support Mr. Qadri. The media of Pakistan was very careful in its reporting the sad incident. Mr. Mumtaz Qadri became the hero of Pakistan overnight.
This kind of national intimidating atmosphere has made the Christian minorities of Pakistan even more insecure, quieter and more helpless. There is a question mark on their future and they are struggling with their Christian identity in Pakistan.
On the other hand, the freedom loving, democratic and tolerance promoting individuals in general are also under tremendous pressure at the moment. Peaceful people who love Pakistan are asking in their hearts if we are not heading toward the death of dialogue and difference of opinion which is so very important for a progressive and prosperous society. Are we on our way to become another “Afghanistan”? Where is my country going?