Aapas Ki Baat with Najam Sethi: 2nd March 2011
Death at a Funeral
January 5, 2011 by Sher Ali Khan
Repeated photographs of a killer flashed on to the screen, as another martyr was created in Pakistan. Governor Salmaan Taseer stood right in the middle of the growing divide in Pakistan between decay and modernization.
Over the years, with the deteriorating socio-economic situation and rampant radicalization in the country a complete decay of thought and rationality has taken charge, which is leading the country back into the stone ages. The religious parties, which have been legitimized over the years, are becoming the alternative to the curse word known as democracy.
During the last two months, Taseer had taken a moderated stance asking for the parliament to probe into the blasphemy law, which almost everyone had repeated. The threat that Taseer posed was that he was willing to push the warped societal boundaries, which are based upon moral assumptions that have not been present for centuries.
The cleric has become a defining force in our society and no one is allowed to question credentials or the persons basis for assessment. Coming with the backing of god, their word is fast becoming an unchallengeable aspect in our society. Without an educational base to filter out the extremist ideology and thought there is a growing acceptance to extremism and radical thought.
Generally speaking Salmaan Taseer was one of the last voices to openly condemn terrorists and extremism even calling them “sick and demented” while also challenging their basis of authority. He had so cleverly grown into the role as governor using his technical background to wittingly challenge the politicians lack of activism against terrorists and extremists.
The consequent reaction to the murder of Salmaan Taseer was the gruesome celebration of his death by various reporters and TV anchors. The war had been won for these individuals who warned that his stance was a pro-American one. While playing down the significance of virtues such as hard work and education, these men boasted with pride explaining that his murder contributed to the overall betterment of society.
Looking forward as progressive voices continue to be silenced, one has to question the whole basis of right and wrong. Till this debate is settled the conception of Pakistan will be a mystery and in many ways a farce.
The Author was assigned the Governor beat in Lahore.
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN: Appeasement policy towards religious intolerance leads to
murder of a governor
The nation has suffered a great loss due to this tragic murder. A
voice of sanity has been silenced. This has happened at a time when
the kind of political leadership provided by Salman Taseer is most
needed. He stood for basic values which are essential for the
stability of Pakistan. His shocking death should be an awakening for
all right-thinking people of Pakistan about the perils that the
country is facing. Creating chaos is not difficult under the tense
conditions under which Pakistan has functioned for a considerable time
now. The benefits of such chaos will only go to a few. However, the
consequences of this death can seriously harm the population which may
begin to react with fear of such murders. It is time for all concerned
persons and the government to react soberly but strongly on this
occasion in order to ensure that the benefits of this situation will
go to those are bent on creating chaos.
The incident is a clear demonstration of the religious hatred and
fanatical mindset that has seeped into the society. The sin of
Governor Salman Taseer was that he was openly criticising the misuse
of the blasphemy laws not only by the fundamentalists but also by the
courts and politicians. He was opposed to section 295-C of the
Pakistan Penal Code which was promulgated by the former military
dictator, General Zia-ul- Haq which dictates the death penalty to
It is very ironic that the fanatic Muslim leaders were openly
declaring that Governor Salman Taseer is Wajibul Qatl (must be
killed). They even publically announced reward money for the killings
of any person who opposes the blasphemy laws. However, the government
has made no move to arrest the fundamentalists. The Asian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) on December 8, 2010 issued an Urgent Appeal
demanding that the government prosecute Muslim leaders who issued
decrees to kill Aasia Bibi. The AHRC also mentioned that Governor
Salman Taseer has been declared infidel so the government should
The policy of appeasement for the Muslim fundamentalists is simply
political expediency. In particular, the governments of Pakhtoon Kha,
Punjab provinces and the federal government have ignored the severity
of the religious madness which has made the society intolerant. The
media and its anchor persons are also responsible for the killing of
the governor as they were enjoying the controversy over the blasphemy
laws and were inviting fanatic Muslim leaders to take part in their
discussions. It was during these media discussions that they openly
urged the masses to act against Governor Taseer and Ms. Sherry Rehman,
the former federal minister who introduced a private bill in the
national assembly against section 295-c of blasphemy laws, as they
were both infidel and Wajibul Qatl.
It is also found that Punjab provincial government is notorious in
providing shelter to the leaders of banned religious terrorist
organizations and in many cases particularly during the election
campaigns, the provincial law minister was taking leaders of banned
religious parties in the processions so as to garner the votes of the
fundamentalists. The Punjab government was holding the conferences of
Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e- Risalat where the religious leaders were openly
threatening death to religious minorities and liberals for blasphemy,
particularly against the Ahmedis.
The governor’s assassin, Police Constable Mumtaz Quadri of the Elite
Force fired a burst from his machine pistol of which 26 rounds struck
Taseer. According to a pre-planned arrangement no security policemen
attempted to stop him. He first fired one shot and this was followed
by a total of 40 rounds. Three days before the shooting Quadri told
his colleagues that he was planning to kill the governor after which
he would surrender so as not to be killed himself. The Elite Force was
created by the chief minister of Punjab in 1997 and since then it has
become parallel to the police force. All appointments are made by the
ruling party of Punjab on political basis. Quadri claimed that he
killed the governor because he was opposed to the blasphemy laws.
Controversies abounded between the ruling party and the governor’s
house. The chief minister never liked his presence because the
governor was very vocal against the lukewarm attitude of the ruling
party towards the militant religious groups. The provincial government
did not obey the orders of the governor and, in fact, they were not
even on speaking terms.
The reports in the media suggest that the incident was not carried
out by a single person but was rather the result of a conspiracy. It
must be noted that the conspiracy was hatched through the Elite Force
which is run by the provincial law minister who was very much against
the governor and supportive of militant Muslim organisations. The
Punjab government was responsible for the provision of the security to
all VIPs in the province. It is a strange that a person with such
extremist inclinations was deployed in the governor’s security detail
which raises eye brows on the murder.
The murder of the Governor Taseer shows that the country is being
controlled by the military and the Mullahs and is rapidly turning into
a fascist state. The use of loud speakers from the mosques, which is
actually already against the law, must be halted firmly so that
religious and sectarian hatred cannot be spread throughout society.
The government must come out from behind the policy of appeasement of
the fundamentalists and put a stop to the cancer that is destroying
Everyday is a new day and also full of surprises, but Pakistan is a country where pleasant surprises are no more possible. Each time, every surprise has to be more horrifying and unbelievable. The latest case of two young brothers who were lynched in Sialkot and that too in the presence of police has shocked everyone. The young innocent boys aged 18 and 16 went to play cricket after Sehri where a mob tortured them for two hours and then hanged them upside down.
The boys in their teens, fans of cricket, faced this brutal death at the time when they have just started dreaming for a bright future. They could not even in their wildest dreams imagine anything this brutal happening to them. But it happened. The presence of police at the scene is a proof that all big crimes take place with the best coordination with police. Their job was to save the boys and disperse that crazy mob but it happened otherwise. Later, the boys were accused of theft, robbery and murder but nothing can justify this barbaric treatment. No crime is big enough that it allows citizens to take law into their hands, but our law enforcement agencies allow this to happen. Now the Chief Justice of Pakistan has asked for investigation, but what will happen except those police officers will be sacked or transferred. Many suspects will be arrested, but will they ever get what they deserve?
In my view, all those who took part in this heinous crime deserve death sentence as anything less than that will never teach a lesson to those who in the name of enmity make life a joke. If the judiciary really wants to ensure justice and accountability then it has to make sure that all culprits meet the same fate, including police personnel. No mercy for killers who just look human but are worse than animals. Here it is the 21st century and I feel people are going backwards to the stone age. Insanity prevails….
Below is the story:
ISLAMABAD: Horrified by a brutal incident of vigilante justice, the Supreme Court on Friday came down hard on law-enforcement personnel and their superior officers who stood by and watched as two young brothers were tortured and then hanged by a mob in Sialkot.
It ordered Anti-Corruption Director General Justice (retd) Kazim Malik to investigate the matter. No-one would dare to take law into his own hands if police had the courage and command to eradicate such brutal and inhuman practices from the society, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry observed while heading a bench which had taken a suo motu action on the matter.
On Aug 15, dozens of people publicly beat to death two young brothers, Hafiz Mughees, 15, and Hafiz Muneeb, 19, in the presence of Sialkot District Police Officer Waqar Chauhan and eight other police officers who watched the brutal act as silent spectators. The bodies were later hanged upside down on the chowk.
Litigants and counsel were shocked and the atmosphere became tense when the gruesome video footage aired by a private TV channel was shown in the courtroom. And it was too much to bear for the grief-stricken grandfather and father of the deceased who started wailing after watching it.
When DPO Chauhan informed the court that the SHO concerned had been arrested, but culprits were yet to be detained, the chief justice said he (Mr Chauhan) deserved to be suspended and sent to jail straightaway. The negligence shown by police could not be ignored, the CJ observed.
“What message have you given to the world about Pakistan,” he asked the DPO and said: “Nowhere in a civilised society such an incident takes place in the presence of police.”
He said the country was already facing disasters and crisis with people dying of hunger, but police were indulging in extra-judicial killings.
The chief justice deplored the apathy of top police officers and senior federal government officials who were aware of the incident.
“Not only it was the duty of police to stop those who were beating the two brothers, but the people in the mob should also have shown moral courage by preventing the beating,” the chief justice said.
Secretary establishment Ismail Qureshi, who had been urgently summoned, informed the court that there was no dearth of good and honest officers who could probe the matter independently.
The court ordered him to ask the Punjab government to take strict disciplinary action against Superintendent Police (investigations) Mohammad Afzal and DPO Chauhan.
The Inspector General of Punjab was directed to take strict action against the police officers who were present at the crime scene but did nothing to stop it. The case will be taken up again on Sept 1.
Our Sialkot Correspondent adds: District Police Officer Sialkot Waqar Ahmad Chauhan and SP investigation were made officer on special duty on Friday by the Inspector-General of Police, Punjab.
The police, meanwhile, registered a case against 14 policemen, including the suspended SHO, in the wake of the murder of two brothers on Aug 15.
Inspector Rana Mohammad Ilyas was SHO Sadar when the mob tortured the two brothers to death suspecting them to be robbers.