By Amir Abbas Turi
Salman Taseer, the late Governor Punjab, became the first non-American who has been honoured with the Martin Luther King Junior Peace Award for his efforts in promoting human rights and peace. This prestigious Award is given to Taseer at a time when the Pakistani nation is deeply divided in its opinion about the question of martyrdom. While the United States has honoured him for his courage, unfortunately, Taseer remains one of the most controversial martyrs in his own country.
The list of controversial martyrs of Pakistan includes personalities whose ideas are diametrically opposed to one another. Apart from Taseer, some of the notable names in this list are Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Zia-ul-Haq, Benazir Bhutto, Shahbaz Bhatti, and most recently, Hakeemullah Mehsud. Martyrdom has become so controversial and subjective in the Islamic Republic that, with due respect to some of the names mentioned earlier, in the coming days, animals, especially dogs, would also be included in the list. The problem is not that a certain insane cleric makes a martyr out of a no body, but it is the people of the Islamic Republic who choose their respective martyrs at will. The clerics and politicians then follow the popular beat. The source of the prevailing confusion is not Mullahs, it is the ordinary people of the country, half of which are supposedly ‘educated’. It seems every other person is an angry Mullah, ready to devour any infidelity at the first sight. What is infidelity then? Any idea that does not suit their taste – and what a raw taste most of the people these days have, who call the few intellectuals among them Jahils (ignorant).
In the wake of the cold-blooded murder of Taseer, the manner in which people, led by lawyers, eulogised the achievement of his murderer Mumtaz Qadri, shocked the world. No wonder the Islamic Republic decorate magazine covers and hits the headline as the most dangerous place on earth. Ironically, Qadri was one of the police guards, which were a part of the Governor’s security detail. He not only took law into his hands by committing a murder but also betrayed the trust bestowed on his police uniform. One cannot blame the state dignitaries that prefer to detail their own Jialas for their security instead of police, which has lost its credibility due to such incidents. More unfortunate is the fact that Qadri, who committed a murder in the name of Islam, forgot or ignored the teachings of this religion – which emphasises that killing a single human being is akin to killing the whole humanity, and that a single person or institution is not qualified to prosecute, judge and persecute even the most atrocious criminal. Whether an alleged sinner can be prosecuted at all is another question. Nevertheless, the most relevant question remains that which law of the land authorises all this?
In this land of the pure, it seems that anyone, who has the ability to take up arms to promote and impose his opinions, is qualified to embody in his person all the three personae simultaneously – the lawyer, the judge and the executioner. Add religious cause to your credentials, and the whole affair becomes a holy war between the righteous and the infidels. Murderers proudly making victory signs from police-vans, killers being showered by rose petals in courtrooms and assassins wearing garlands of flowers in jails – such sights have become a commonplace in our land.
In this situation, the most vulnerable people are those who speak the truth, flight for justice, support the weak and strive against intolerance. No matter whatever religious beliefs they adhere to, or how high their rank is, they are weeded out of the land of the pure. A country, where man-made laws are deemed superior to the command of God, where anyone would kill for the sake of his blind belief in such laws and would in turn be supported by massive rallies, is indeed the most dangerous place on earth.
However, history will not forget those who have laid their lives for the sake of truth and justice. Salman Taseer will be remembered for his courage and valour. He stood in defiance against the mighty force of religious fanatics. Regrettably, most of our leaders lack such a strong character and charismatic personality. He knew well the cost of his audacity, but still he raised his voice for the plight of the oppressed. He could not be threatened or silenced. The religious hardliners created an emotional hysteria and called him a heretic. It was not the first time that a brave man was burned for heresy.
It is our moral duty to remember and salute such unsung heroes of our society. Salman Taseer is the kind of fearless leader that our nation requires in today’s dark age. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he tweets @EngrTuri
Filed under: Justice, Media, Terrorism · Tags: assassination, extremism, governor punjab, land, late Salman Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, people, Qadri, religious, religious extremism, salman taseer, shaheed, Taseer, Terrorism