By Qaisar Sultan
The religious fervor finds solace in murdering and maiming the voice of reason; and that was the cause of murder of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, a true liberal and secular leader- Is there any place safe in Pakistan for an enlightened man like him? Why a man of his intelligence would stay in politics and made enlightened views known to those, deprived of reason and civility? The murder of Salman Taseer was the murder of the voice of reason and courage. May be we, as a nation, should begin soul searching for what kind of future state we wish to live in; something closer to Afghanistan? The other bold and courageous voice of Shari Rehman may be curbed if she stayed too long in the land of murder and mayhem. One has to admire the courage and stand that the leaders of People Party have taken on the blasphemy issue. I hope that they have the audacity to abolish the blasphemy laws. I think we may survive the corruption and ineptness, as we have decided to have “self-indulgent democracy”; we better live with the PPP for next two years. One thing is crystal-clear after this murder and rallies in favor of the murderer that the religious extremism will surely do us in. They are openly threatening the liberal activists, people in the government &politics and the judiciary to stay away from speaking or doing anything against their agenda to turn Pakistan into a theocratic state. The rest of the political parties are stuck in their petty arguments, complaints, grievances and narrow agendas to stay or take over the power- They wish to be on the side of what benefits them; and that is all; there is no conviction and there are no principles. The extremists settle score by killing and taking the direct route to heaven. There is nothing that can shock me when it is about Pakistan. What troubled me the most was the support of the lawyers, ML-N and other civic groups for the murderer? A man who admitted murder has been hailed as a hero to the Muslim world; and we call ourselves peaceful people! What has gone wrong with us? Why this sense of piety and closeness to God translates into killings? Do hearsay and innuendos offer sufficient reason to take human life? The validity of a moral or religious norm or conduct cannot simply reside in the minds and ambit of extreme orthodoxy and fanaticism. The murder can never be justified by an isolated individual reflecting upon the religion and its presumed unbendable demands, though in the agreement with the opinion of limited few. If few Muslims or even a huge majority wish to isolate themselves in regards to some universal obligation of limiting an individual finding a religious duty to kill another human being, how would we justify asking others to give any respect or rights to the Muslim communities. There must be impartiality in the universal obligations and respect for the religious sensitivities.
What was more nauseating: The lawyers supporting the murderer? An attorney is an officer of the court and pledges oath to the constitutions and the laws of the land. They have to stand above their subjective view of a legal matter and their religious sensibilities. The lawyers are out there to consent to the legitimacy to murderous validation. In Pakistan, the lawyer’s community has become one of the most activist groups to break the laws. They beat up judges and politicians; and support murderers. Is murder allowed in the Pakistani laws? The vigilante concepts of taking laws in someone hand may sound pleasing at times; the consequences of violence are awesome. The murders are part of expressing the unwritten, but well understood, way of defending the political order of our culture. It stems out of illiteracy, feudalism, tribal mentality and extreme religiosity. The Madrasahas, religious parties and fanatical groups provide the most fertile environment where drops of blood help furthering the fertilization of the soil thirsty for more weeds in the shape of human monsters to grow. The human fungi in form of fundamentalists, terrorists and fake upholders of our religion have spread out to kill and destroy innocent human lives and a possibility of decent culture. The religion has become the source of political power. The religious political parties are out there to influence the polity of the country through violence, disturbing peace by demonstrations and demagoguery; provoking and preying on popular religious prejudices and projecting the religious imagery- Like God needs protection of the evil bunch! The irony is that the secular political forces are corrupt and weak. The military which is the main source of real power in the country has to balance their dubious hedonistic life style and religiosity at the same time; former to enjoy and latter to exploit.
The apostasy, Hersey and blasphemy, in one form or other, have been around as far as we find the establishment of the religion, especially in Abrahamic religions. The Jewish religion asked for the death for those who committed blasphemy. The Christianity took heresy and blasphemy to its extreme- The Catholics burnt people alive, cut the bodies in half and severed the heads in the case of what they considered heresy or blasphemy. How they could take insult to their God and His son? Those evil men in the time of inquisition felt spiritually motivated in the name of God to kill and hurt people. The Muslims, Jews and even other Christian sects of Spain experienced the horrible inquisition. Islam took a more moderate stand to find compassion in pardoning those who recanted or demonstrated remorse; they even allowed exiling the blasphemer- But they left in the hands of the Islamic states to provide and dispense the laws of the land. That is one reason that the state religion is a proposition that puts others in danger. If anything that is being exalted with reverence, should that be enough cause to kill? The Christians did exactly the same- If someone did not pronounce Christ as Son of God, it was heresy; and still is considered as heresy- It is a crime against God in their eyes. Thank God for the secularism of the West that people like myself and our children can live in the countries without the state telling us what to believe and what to say or not. If I say that Christ was just a prophet and not Son of God, there is not an evil Malik Qadri shooting me down and lawyer’s community putting the flower garlands on his neck. There is no Muslim Asia Begum in modern Western states to be hanged where our men and women openly and proudly refuse to call Christ as Son of God. They may not like or hate us for what we believe in; but the state and its laws protect all the citizens. The Pakistani Muslims living abroad feel safer living in the West than in Pakistan; just think about Christians and other religious minorities. Pakistan and its laws must give protection and security to all the citizens. If there is one word to suggest saving the country from violence, I would say “tolerance”.