By Bushra Zulfiqar
What a beginning of a new decade! Only when domestic politics in Pakistan seemed murkier, jolting between continuity and coalition, the brutal assassination of Salman Taseer has come as a big, big blow. Tasser although a controversial figure had in the recent past courageously criticized the radical and fundamentalist elements in Pakistani society by supporting Asia Bibi and terming the blasphemy laws, black and discriminatory which had no place in Jinnah’s minorities respecting Pakistan. Few politicians dared to be as courageous even the famously infamous interior minister was quick in giving Government’s assurances of not tinkering with this fundamentally oppressive piece of legislation. A secular, progressive and key figure in Pakistan’s political scenario has been lost, lost to a mind set as from what it seems is a murder resulted from ideologically fuelled hate. The People’s Party of course is using it as an opportunity to gain it’s lost ground and public sympathy by pointing fingers towards the PMLN.
In Pakistan’s body politic, it just seems so easy to assassinate political figures for their beliefs. Taseer has clearly been shot due to a mindset which is senselessly hatred composed. The ugliness of fundamentalist thought has become so bloody starking that it seems to have completely overtaken human imagination and actions. The security guard’s confession is not a mere indication but a solid proof, an evidence of how deeply the country has been plagued by this extremist and brutal mind set. There are un-manned drones violating Pakistan’s air spaces every single day and killing ‘suspected’ militants but unless there is recognition and realization about the extremist mind set which has been embedded, nothing is going to bring peace within this hell of an extra-ordinary country. It is exactly this mind set, the of lack of tolerance and acceptance which is the real war Pakistan is fighting, every single day. Jinnah created a Pakistan where people of different and differing ideologies, religious beliefs and practices would be free to go either to their mosques or to their churches. This particular incidence has gone way ahead in exposing how vulnerable we the citizens are or even a very higher Government level is, to forces of destruction and ideological fanaticism. A very high price is attached to standing up for your principles and even for declaring your support to a weak, poor and oppressed woman. Not long ago, Benazir Bhutto was also lost because of this deadly war between idealism and oppression, between hope and hate, between promise and closed dark ends. The extent to which Pakistan has been radicalized is even more obvious because of the way media has handled this gravely tragic incidence by sitting on the fence and not openly condemning this horrific criminal act. Some 500 of the Ulema of the Braveli community are calling against the funeral of the ex-Governor, a business tycoon and a man of high political stature who has been a successful constitutional head of the Province. His efforts for relief work for the flood victims of 2010 have all been forgotten. Bigotry, moral corruption and a mind boggling absence of rationality have come to dominate the national landscape as the clergy/mullah takeover of the society has unfolded. It is not in the interest of Pakistan; on the contrary it is most detrimental for the development and democratic discourse of the country. We have already lost too much and too, too many in this war of hatred and vengeance.
This is the war within and it has to be won. This beautiful country of ours is way too big and beautiful to be lost to the fundamentalist yet minority forces. Justice needs to be done to all the people who have been killed by this deadly, destructive dinosaur. I appeal to all my Pakistani sisters and brothers not to give up, not to become fearful and loose hope due to these hate mongers. We will continue to fight for our country and our beliefs and will eventually win over this handful of people. I would also request the international community, the human rights groups and the democratic voices to help us in our struggle for civil liberties and religious rights for our minorities.
Bushra Zulfiqar is a Pakistani writer and anti-war activist.