Salman Taseer died because he stood up and spoke against the environment of abuse and intolerance that permeates Pakistan. What more can be said? People have abused religion in Pakistan for power since before this country was created. For pointing to this atmosphere of murderous bigotry Salman Taseer paid the ultimate price. His own party told him to drop the matter; but I guess some sense of outrage must have kept that recklessly brave man going. And so a tall grass was culled by the disgusting security apparatus sprouted from colonial Punjab, the pro-segregationist Dixie of South Asia.
Initially a shocked silence overcame people, compounded by the sprouting of obscene Facebook groups celebrating the murderer Qadri. The shocked silence gave way to mental screams of horror from the blogosphere over the disgust at the celebration of murder. It has been the bloggers from Lahore who have done the loudest protesting against this despicable murder and the disgusting environment of hate that spawned this act, celebrated it and defended it.
Karachi Khatmal, Sana Saleem, Nadeem Paracha and a few others, outside Punjab are resonating against this act and the aura of intolerance. I do not blame bloggers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan for not following up much on this beyond righteously angry obituaries. They have a lot on their plate to deal with and they have suffered the consequences of Establishment sponsored hatred too long, and know too well its effects. It is now those at the outer edges of the establishment, like in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad who are feeling its effect and have to consistently speak out. A lot of people have stood by whilst the fanatics slowly gained strength, and fostered an atmosphere of sectarianism and intolerance. One aided and abetted by the establishment. Maybe now people will realise that they must counter the Establishmentarian tactic of fostering divisions between people.
But back to Salman Taseer. It used to be a pleasure watching a politician interact, or at least obliquely answer questions raised by everyday internet users. I am a blogger; and Mr Salman Taseer was a micro-blogger through twitter. His twitter account has been left as a tiny cyber memorial for him. If people ask what is the point of this, then we might as well ask them back, “What is the point of an idea?”.
There is also no doubt in my mind that it is the murder of a 21st century man who used technology as prolifically as I do that has sent me and many others into shock. Maybe this was a reminder of our mortalities. People’s use of technology, and their attempts to put down their thoughts and feelings are not just an attempt to get ideas across, but also a way to scramble for immortality. People want to be remembered beyond their years. Salmaan Taseer, by having died speaking up for those dispossessed of their rights in Pakistani society, has ensured his memory will live on. Just as those who spoke or acted for civil rights for all Americans in the United States, and died in the process are remembered, so shall Mr Salman Taseer.