A tragic anniversary... By Masood
04 January, 2013
Today is January 4, 2012. Two years have passed since that cold morning in Islamabad when a religious extremist, Mumtaz Qadri, pumped 20 bullets into then Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, killing him on the spot. Since then, the murder trial has dragged on in the courts wherein the world watched in astonishment as a murderer was garlanded by the very protectors of the law — the lawyers of Islamabad. The world was shocked as it watched the court's office being ransacked by a furious crowd forcing the judge to run for his life and when the judge who sentenced Mumtaz to death had to flee the country along with his family or face certain death.
Mumtaz Qadri was supposed to be hanged on October 9, 2012 but some powerful quarters are ensuring this sentence is not implemented; the latest to take action is the Islamabad High Court, which has constituted a medical board comprising of a cardiologist, dentist and general physician. It is expected that they will find another excuse to delay the execution. One of Salmaan Taseer's sons, Shahbaz Taseer, was kidnapped in broad daylight from a posh locality in Lahore. There are unconfirmed news reports that Shahbaz was kidnapped by the Taliban who want to exchange him for a live Qadri. The Taliban's love for Qadri tells the whole story without need for any further elaboration. One may wonder who the main culprit is: Mumtaz Qadri or the lawyers who garlanded him, the court that is finding excuses to delay capital punishment, the Taliban who have kidnapped Shahbaz or those scholars who made Mumtaz Qadri believe that killing someone is not a crime but a gateway to paradise.
Two years have passed since the governor was gunned down and things have gotten worse. During these two years, fanatical crowds have been busy finding shortcuts to paradise. On July 5, 2012, a mentally unstable, homeless man was beaten to death in southern Punjab for allegedly burning pages of the Quran by a charged crowd that snatched the victim from the police station before lynching him. On December 21, 2012, another mob stormed a police station in southern Sindh, dragged out a man and doused him in gasoline before setting him ablaze. The victim was a homeless man who had spent the night in a mosque and was suspected of desecrating the holy Quran.
A 14-year-old Christian girl, Rimsha, was accused of blasphemy after charred pages with inscriptions of the Quranic verses were found in her bag. It was later found that the charges had been framed by the imam of a local mosque. She was granted bail but had to go into hiding for the sake of her life. I would like to quote Salmaan Taseer's daughter, Shehrbano, to close this letter: “My father's assassination was a hate crime fuelled by jihadist fervour, abetted by some irresponsible sectors of the media and sanctified by some political actors. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing (due to fear). The loss of one good man must not deter others. Pakistan's very future depends on it. My father's murder must not silence the voices of reason in Pakistan.”
Jubail, Saudi Arabia