Religion-based murder of Governor Punjab, Salman Taseer

January 4, 2011 saw the brutal murder of Salman Taseer, the Governor of the Punjab, for his stance against Pakistan’s bloody Blasphemy Laws. His crime: supporting the human rights of Pakistan’s non-Muslims. Following are some of the reactions to this religion-based crime.

Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), January 4, 2011
There is no going back: Labour Party Pakistan stoutly condemns the brutal murder of Salman Taseer
Labour Party Pakistan stoutly condemns the brutal murder of Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab killed today by a security guard. We believe that it is not an act of an individual acting on his own behalf. The guard was acting on the consistent instigation of the religious fanatics who were wrongly blaming Salman Taseer for terming blasphemy laws as “black law”. This is an act of a collective thinking of the fanatics that any ideological opponent must be illuminated physically.

‘The blood of Salman Taseer should not go in vain. Pakistan People’s Party should abandon all policies to please the religious fanatics. There should be resolute fight back against the Mullahs who want Pakistan to become another Taliban control country’ Farooq Tariq spokesperson Labour Party Pakistan and Nisar Shah general secretary LPP said in a joint press statement while reacting on the news. ‘All those justifying this brutal murder must be brought to justice, no alliance what so ever be made with the religious political parties who are mainly responsible for this murder’ they said in the statement.

Labour Party Pakistan expresses condolences and full sympathies with the family of Salman Taseer. It proposes that all progressive political trends must unite against the onslaught of religious fanatics and their political masters. State must be separated from religion and the murder should not deter the efforts to make necessary changes in the blasphemy laws.

It is an attempt by the fanatics to silence all opponents. There is no going back after this brutal killing. Labour Party Pakistan will continue its efforts to unite all the progressive forces under one banner against the religious fundamentalists and a political response must be brought forward to counter the growing influence of the fanatics.

Human Rights Watch
‘Punjab Governor Salman Taseer’s condemnation of the blasphemy law and his support for victims of the abusive law was both principled and brave. Taseer showed himself to be a rare politician, willing to risk his life in espousing an unambiguous position against discrimination and abuse. His assassination is a cause of sadness for human rights defenders. Pakistan’s federal government and the Punjab provincial government must explain their inaction in the face of multiple death threats publicly issued by extremist groups to Taseer in the run up to his killing.’

National Student Federation Punjab
‘We strongly condemn the brutual murder of salman Taseer by Rilegious fanatics. This is thinking point for us that in which direction our society moves. Left and all democratic, progressive forces of the country unite and give a solid alternative to this religious fundamentalism. State action must be against all those fanatics groups and so called scholars who give the fatwa? Peoples Party and all democratic forces must firmly stand on their point to eliminate this so called blasphemy law…’
National Student Federation Punjab

Pakistanis Living in Sweden
We, Pakistani living in Sweden, strongly condemn the murder of Salman Taseer. He died för the right cause. He was murdered by a religious group who called Salman Taseer ‘Kafir’. We think that it is high time that all political, secular and democratic forces should unite and act together. By murdering the innocent Salman Taseer, the Mullhas want to show us that what they say, they mean. And the question is what the Punjab and central goverment do to tackle these criminal elements?
Act now otherwise it will be to late!

Asian Human Rights Commission, January 5, 2011

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 alleged blasphemers.

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 provide protection.

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 the country.

A Leading Activist
‘It should be noted that no other politicial even religious group is given such freedom to kill as is available to armed fanatics belonging to banned (sic.) lashkars, dawats. It is prima facie a case of patronage extended from powerful quarters entrenched within the establishment. Yes, both Punjab and Federal government owe an answer to Human Rights Watch query.’

A leading Activist
‘I am upset and angry. I feel Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is responsible for Salman Taseer’s murder. The PPP leadership backed out on the face of pressure from the religious lobby. Had the PPP government stood on his back, he would not have been singled out… Had the entire party supported his stand then how many these fanatics could have killed?’

A Leading Activist
‘Murder of Salman Taseer is both condemnable and sad. It is death of a liberal voice and an attack on the dissent.. extremist forces, if not checked now, will destroy all the symbols of modern and progressive ideas and thoughts… we have to unite ourselves to politically fight against these coercive forces… going back from our resolve to build public pressure against all black laws including Blasphemy laws is no option anymore…’

A Leading Activist
‘January 4th – Freedom From Religion Day! The day that we FINALLY had a
secular politician who died for calling a religious law the ugly name that it is.’


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