The Taseer assassination, one year on
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The Taseer assassination, one year on

I don’t have a great deal to say, to be honest. There is one point I would like to make, however.

For me, the Taseer assassination symbolized the end of the game. It’s when I gave up hope. It’s when I sharply realized that even if Pakistan, the state and the society both, take forward steps on pocket-book issues like electricity supply or jobs, the fabric and essence of the state was beyond repair. There was nothing to be done about it.

The reason there was and is nothing to be done about it is because those who wish for less tolerance and pluralism in Pakistan can and do use guns and bombs to get across their point, and those that demand greater tolerance and pluralism in Pakistan cannot. That’s really the end of it. When a Salman Taseer disagrees with a Mumtaz Qadri, he issues polite statements in the press and on Twitter and maybe shows up to Aasia Bibi’s jail cell in a show of support. When a Mumtaz Qadri disagrees with a Salman Taseer, he pumps 30 bullets into his back. That’s the difference.

When you add the disgusting reaction we saw to the Taseer murder — from lawyers throwing rose petals on Qadri to TV show hosts justifying it to parliamentarians refusing to lead funeral prayers for Taseer — one realized just how high the deck was stacked against the rest of us. Insofar as it provided clarity about our collective mindset, the Taseer assassination was useful. No one was allowed any illusions after it.

Nothing that has happened since then has changed my mind on this. The Shahbaz Bhatti killing exacerbated this sense of powerlessness and impotence. As the cliche goes, it is what it is. We can try to nibble away at the margins, but the regressiveness, religiosity, and fascistic aspects of our state and society are not going anywhere any time soon. This is what happens when you introduce stupid laws and lie about your own history in textbooks and impose religion as a binding force from above. We can be horrified about all of this, but none of us should be surprised.

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RIP Salman Taseer. Photo: AP

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