Wednesday, January 4, 2017
In a statement issued by the PPP, Bilawal said Salman Taseer proved that Pakistan is for all and protection of weak and vulnerable people, including the minorities is a sacred duty of every nationalist Pakistani who follows the ideology of the country’s founding fathers.
He pointed out that Taseer stood like rock against the misuse of laws meant to protect the sanctity of every religion by bigots and hypocrite elements bent upon to settle their personal scores against weaker opponents.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said bigotry and extremism were breeding terrorism and people of Pakistan should get rid of these maladies and establish a truly egalitarian Muslim majority society standing tall as a model nation in the Islamic as well as the modern world.
He said that certain elements want to hold people hostage at gun-point by exploiting certain laws but they don’t know that in the presence of PPP and the followers like Salman Taseer and others their nefarious designs won’t succeed in Pakistan.
Trump, who won the US election against Democrat Hillary Clinton in November, will take oath on January 20th in Washington. This will mark an end to eight-year Democrat rule. Mike Pence will take charge as the vice president.
Zardari returned from an 18-month self-imposed exile on December 23, and announced on December 27 – at the death anniversary of his spouse Benazir Bhutto – that he and his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will contest by-election to become part of the parliament. The PPP co-chairman has since been holding meetings to prepare for the by-election and to finalise the future line of action. The father and the son are aiming at reviving the PPP and forming alliance with the like-minded parties for the 2018 polls. The first goal will be to unify the opposition against the government and give tough time to the rulers.
A senior PPP leader told The Nation, that Zardari had been invited to Trump’s inauguration and he would fly to the US to attend it.
“Bilawal has also been invited but he may not go due to party engagement. Zardari will not be in the US for long,” he said.
The PPP leader, a confidante of the party co-chairman, said that Zardari would also undergo a “routine” medical check-up in the US. “This relates to some rumours that he was going abroad for medical check-up. He is likely to undergo a medical check-up during the US trip,” he added.
Other PPP leaders also confirmed the plan.
There were earlier reports that Zardari might leave Pakistan again for medical check-up but the PPP co-chairman is still in the country. The government has still not confirmed whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend Trump’s oath-taking but the premier is likely to visit the US soon for a bilateral meeting with the new president-elect.
After Trump’s election in November, there were concerns he might be aggressive towards Pakistan keeping in view his pro-India image.
Most Pakistani-Americans supported losing candidate Hillary Clinton who was believed to be more liberal and harmonious towards the Muslims. Indian-Americans had voted for Trump and they celebrated his win hoping to pressurise Pakistan.
But soon after Trump won, Pakistan started diplomatic efforts to win over Trump. Prime Minister Sharif also held telephonic talks with Trump in which he described Pakistanis as “fantastic people” and gave hints of enhancing Pakistan-US ties.
Sindh provincial transport minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said Zardari was preparing for the by-elections and was set to enter the parliament.
“He will unite the opposition and we will hope to do much better in the 2018 polls,” he said, adding the former president was a free man and could go anywhere around the world. “I don’t know about his schedule but if he decides, he might attend Trump’s inauguration. Returning from exile does not mean he will not go anywhere from now on,” Shah said.
CALL FOR STEPS TO PREVENT MISUSE OF RELIGION-BASED LAWS
Zardari on Tuesday said that six years ago former governor Punjab Salman Taseer “laid down his life protecting minorities and vulnerable sections of society against misuse of religion-based laws and we pay homage to his memory.”
In a message, he said Taseer’s assassination “at the hands of bigots was not just loss of a political party; it was loss of the nation.”
The PPP, Zardari said, “rejects the bigots and extremists who continue to exploit religion-based laws to impose upon the people their own version of religious edicts on the one hand, and to stifle dissent on the other.” Zardari said that the PPP would continue to oppose and resist the narrow and “bigoted narrative of Islamic tenets by some elements to suit their political agenda.” He said that on the sixth anniversary of Taseer “let us pledge that collectively we will prevent the misuse of the religion-based laws.”
Fatwa issued against Shaan Taseer for allegedly insulting Islam six years after his governor father died in similar controversy.
A Pakistani rights activist whose politician father was assassinated in 2011 for supposedly insulting Islam says he fears the same fate after a hardline religious group issued a fatwa demanding his execution and the police launched an investigation into allegations he had committed blasphemy.
Shaan Taseer said the Sunni Tehreek, a grouping of clerics drawn from the Barelvi movement, was “gunning for my blood and provoking people to take my life” over a Christmas video he posted on social media in which he criticised Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
His father, Salmaan Taseer, the former governor of Punjab province, was killed amid similar controversy by one of his own police guards six years ago.
The governor had infuriated hardliners with his demand for a government pardon for Asia Bibi, a poor Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy despite weak and contradictory evidence against her.
His killer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, and an estimated 100,000 mourners attended his funeral following his execution last year.
The ire of the Barelvi sect, which on non-blasphemy issues is generally considered moderate, was rekindled last month after Taseer published a video expressing solidarity with people entangled in blasphemy allegations.
He called for the release of both Bibi, who remains on death row, and Nabeel Masih, a Christian teenager arrested last year for “liking” on Facebook a picture of the Kaaba in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.
Taseer also demanded the repeal of what he called the “inhumane” blasphemy laws, a longstanding demand of international human rights groups who say the laws are widely abused by people who level false allegations to settle personal scores.
The video prompted Sunni Tehreek to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, saying Taseer was liable for death because he had supposedly committed both blasphemy and apostasy. Police in the city of Lahore also lodged a first investigation report (FIR), a document that formally starts the process of investigating a crime, under the country’s blasphemy laws.
According to the FIR, police claimed to have found the video on a USB drive left outside a police station.
Mujahid Abdul Rasul, a Sunnit Tehreek cleric who demanded the police take action, said Taseer’s support for Bibi and Masih meant he “was equally involved in the crime” of blasphemy.
“I don’t know why the Taseer family do this again and again,” he said. “His own father was killed for this so why is he also choosing the same path?”
Taseer has not been named in the FIR, with officers at Islampura police station in Lahore claiming they had not been able to confirm if it was really him in the video.
Whether or not the police pursue the matter, the mere accusation of blasphemy can be enough to incite vigilante attacks.
Taseer, who lives abroad but visits Pakistan regularly, said the Sunni Tehreek was deliberately trying to provoke its supporters in the hope that someone would mimic the killing of his father, which took place in an Islamabad market on 4 January 2011.
“On social media there are calls for another Mumtaz Qadri to deal with me and people are offering to be his successor,” he said. “What they plan to do is engineer another Qadri-like assassination.” Pakistan’s supreme court is due to rule on Bibi’s final appeal, which was postponed in October after one of the judges recused himself from the case.
I believe it’s about time that we give up on fear of the reaction, and try to start an open, honest discussion on our shortcomings to question what we are being forced to believe and chug down our throats and the quest for the truth.
The same dreaded date arrives! The day when yet another reminder jolted us that our country remains in the firm, unforgiving clutches of hardcore fanatics. The familiar tension, the perilous suffocation forcing us to gasp for a mere breath. How foolish were we to think that the hanging of a mere patsy would make things any different on the rigid and deplorable canvas that is our society?
I won’t add to the plethora of lip service hailing Salman Taseer for the hero he was. And I also won’t celebrate the “historic judicial decision enforcing the rule of law” against a poor, brainwashed gunman who breached his duty to open fire on the very man he was getting paid to protect. Instead, today I will mourn a much graver and much sinister problem, which most of us are either too oblivious to see or too scared to speak against. What triggered me to write was the latest news of late Salman Taseer’s son, Shaan Taseer bagging the title of being “Wajib ul Qatal,” as he stirred the wrath of the same set of self-proclaimed leaders who were masterminds behind his father’s cold-blooded murder. Apparently, he has offended the fragile honour of these valiant Muslims by wishing “Merry Christmas” to the Christian community while reiterating the stance of his late father on standing for the rights of the oppressed.
While it goes without saying how outrageous this news is, I believe, this mindless affixation, and adherence to violence and religious fascism points to a greater problem. While a lot has been written on the role of the Mullah nexus and this being the result of our flawed foreign policies, but is that the primary reason? Was it the result of some flawed foreign policy that is forcing Indonesian public to charge their Governor, Ahok, of blasphemy? From Taliban to ISIS, Boko Haram to Al Nusra, each day hundreds of people are made a target of all sorts of vile acts in the name of religion. The pattern is clear, with only one common denominator: the mindless following of ideologues without any substantial evidence and lack of critical thinking.
You simply cannot beat an ideology with legal manoeuvring and legislative moves. While we thought hanging Qadri, the gunman, for his disregard for the law would result in establishing some semblance of sanity, what ensued was a stunning mass of his “followers” showing defiance against the writ of the state as they gathered for one of the largest funerals this country has seen. Now there are reports that he is also getting a multimillion shrine built at his burial grounds, which will naturally turn into yet another gathering point for the hardliners.
So, what’s the solution? For me, the only way to turn the tables is to instil this idea that maybe, just maybe, there is a chance you can be wrong about the beliefs you have been taught since your first breath. The notion of having bloated and baseless sense of superiority without even a shred of evidence to defend it is the root of all evil. Take any example of atrocities and genocides in the history, and you will find set in stone ideologies such as nationalism, race supremacy or religion at the core of it with other influences such as culture, economics being more contingent factors. The idea that we are the best of the lot, the contentment, the warm fuzzy feeling that results from “knowing for a fact” that you are the only one who is on the right path is the source of the mindless hatred and intolerance. In our country’s case, for one sect or group, the promises of lush gardens with ever-flowing wine and fair skinned maidens stop the followers from ever doubting what the hate spewing machine at the perch is propagandising in between these descriptions. Since you are being offered a pretty sweet deal for the condition of never asking a question and exerting your own mind towards inquisitiveness, why bother wasting your time and energies on giving the counter-narrative even a chance?
Sadly, it doesn’t stop on not giving a chance. To make sure that they keep on this path of righteousness, they give everyone “who’re on their way to the eternal fire” (read challenging their hegemony) two convenient options. Either they can choose to convert and conform to their version of the narrative, or they can prepare themselves for an exemplary fate. And that’s where these ideologues turn from being a personal matter to being detrimental towards the progress and functionality of the society. I believe it’s about time that we give up on fear of the reaction, and try to start an open, honest discussion on our shortcomings to question what we are being forced to believe and chug down our throats and the quest for the truth. Only open unbarred yet respectful debate can initiate the process of teaching people HOW to think, rather than WHAT to think. Salman’s vocal stand against inhumane legalised marginalisation of the minorities sparked something that had to be taken down by firing a couple of rounds on an unarmed, unsuspecting target. Because he stood for logic, for humanity and an open discourse against the so-called taboos. And that, I believe, can be our greatest weapon if we ever want to see a prosperous Pakistan for not just a particular group, but for all human beings.
The sixth death anniversary of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer - who sacrificed his life for the cause of humanity and provision of rights to the marginalised sections of society - will be observed today (Wednesday) across the country.
Representatives of civil society and human rights organisations will pay tribute to Salmaan Taseer, who raised his voice against false allegations levelled against a Christian woman and was assassinated by his security guard for that. The former governor had assured that woman of his full support for her release. A candlelit vigil will be organised at Liberty Roundabout by the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) to remember the slain leader and his great sacrifice.
Meanwhile, Civil Society Network Pakistan President Abdullah Malik in his statement on the death anniversary of Salmaan Taseer said that the day should be marked as "elimination of terrorism day".