The slain Governor Punjab Salman Taseer remained the part of parcel of the fiery speeches of speakers in the protests organized by different groups. One can still witness the banners displayed on Murree Road, the busiest road of Rawalpindi, in which Taseer was blamed for siding with Aasia Bibi and criticizing the anti-blasphemy law.
The anti-blasphemy law was not being amended. No move of the kind was afoot in the halls of government or the corridors of parliament. Yet the clerical armies raised a hue and cry, issuing threats and denunciations, and calling for a national strike on December 31 to add fuel to the fires they had kindled.
Even so, the half which remains open was also closed, making the strike call a success even if few people paused to consider that it had been called over something which, for all practical purposes, was a non-issue.
But non-issue or not, a climate was created, and exactly four days later, Governor Taseer, whose one fault if we discount all others was speaking his mind on red-rag issues, had most of a Kalashnikov magazine in his body.
It is our national tragedy that our holy zealots are the instruments of a mindset 30 years in the making: from Gen Ziaul Haq’s era and the time of the first Afghan ‘jihad’ down to the present, a mindset totally at odds with what gullible fools like us take the idea of Pakistan, as first mooted in 1947, to be. It is wrong, therefore, to say that Mumtaz Qadri was acting alone. In the literal sense, he may have been alone. But in the metaphorical or spiritual sense, he was representing a state of mind, a fever of the brain.
After this incident, Federal government reportedly has directed to reassess the bio-data of the security guards deployed for security of higher officials. In the first phase, securities of VVIPs, including President, Prime Minister, Chief Ministers and Provincial Governors, are to be rechecked. And in second part, securities of the ministers and members of the parliament are to be scrutinized. It means that the extremists among security forces have once again become a question mark for government and military leadership.
The killing of Salman Taseer had exposed the flaws not only in VVIPs securities, but also in the very structure of the law-enforcement agencies. It is very difficult to identify the extremists in the law-enforcement institutions and other related organizations. Mumtaz Qadri as mentioned earlier was not a lone ranger in this killing, he belongs to a typical school of thought. In his decision, the other variables like congregation of 31st December, advice of the cleric, peer pressure are also the factors that were responsible for his act.
Whatever Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah dreamt, today we are sitting in just the opposite direction. Intolerable, undisciplined, having different interpretations of faith and scattered; it appears that we are the nation without any ideology.
This is a time when nation needs a real leadership. This is a time when we need a collective effort to change the mindset. We must project and encourage the moderate and civilized forces of society and project them as a role model and must take gradual initiative towards the right directions that would ultimately lead us towards a more prosperous and more tolerant society. And, we must say goodbye to our weaknesses and compromises, unless we want to repeat the same saga.