Salman Taseer - Governor Punjab, businessman, media mogul, PPP leader – was gunned down outside a restaurant in Kohsar Market, Islamabad, by one of his own guards. The guard – reportedly, a Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri – was part of the security Elite Force depute assigned to keep Salman Taseer safe gunned down the Punjab Governor with as many as 27 bullets. Later the guard handed himself to the police and said that he had killed Salman Taseer because of his vocal opposition to the Blasphemy Law.
Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri may have pulled the trigger but let us all hang our head in shame today because Salman Taseer was killed by the intolerance, the hatred, the extremism, the vigilantism, the violence and the jahalat that now defines our society. He was killed by the unchecked abundance of false sanctimony where custodians of morality have been breathing fire and instigating violence. Each one of us, including his own party, should be ashamed today for having tolerated the pall of intolerance that has eventually gunned down this man. Today’s Pakistan is defined by Mumtaz Hussain Qadris. They exist all around us. And it is all of us who tolerate them and their intolerance. It is this tolerance of intolerance that kills.
Today, it claimed yet one more victim.
Just as one example of many that we should have been paying heed to already, it was less than a month ago that a dispicable man in Peshawar was publicly offering money to anyone who would murder in the name of the blasphemy law. The news flashed on the media. Was highlighted in disgust by those like us. Yet, no action was taken; indeed, not even note was taken by those in power. It was ignored as mere ‘josh i khitaabat’ and emotionalism. It was obviously more. The tragedy is that there are too many like this man. Are people like him not responsible for spreading hatred and the results of that hatred? People instigating violence. People celebrating violence. People supporting violence. All of these people are responsible for Salman Taseer’s death. As are all of those who have stood silent and let these merchants of violence sell their wares. (Full story here).
At one level the details of what exactly happened in Islamabad today are less important than what we have allowed to happen in our societies for all the years that have led to this day, but for those who may not have seen the (still developing) details, here is an update from Dawn:
Gunmen killed the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, a senior member of the ruling party, in Islamabad on Tuesday, his spokesman said. “Yes, he has died,” said the spokesman for Salman Taseer. Police official Mohammad Iftikhar said Taseer was gunned down by one of his elite security force protectors. Five other people were wounded as other security personnel responded to the attack. Police said earlier Taseer had been shot nine times and wounded near his Islamabad home in the F6 sector and close to Kohsar market, a popular shopping and cafe spot frequented by wealthy Pakistanis and expatriates.
Another police official, Hasan Iqbal, said a pair of witnesses told the police that as the governor was leaving his vehicle, a man from his security squad fired at him. Taseer then fell, while other police officials fired on the attacker. In recent days, as the People’s Party has faced the loss of its coalition partners, the 56-year-old Taseer has insisted that the government will survive. But it was his stance against the blasphemy laws that apparently led to his killing.
Interior Minister Rahman Malik told reporters that the suspect in the case had surrendered to police and told them he killed Taseer because “the governor described the blasphemy laws as a black law.” Taseer was believed to be meeting someone for a meal, Malik said. Other members of his security detail were being questioned, Malik said. The security for Taseer was provided by the Punjab government. “We will see whether it was an individual act or someone had asked him” to do it, Malik said of the attacker.