In The Guardian, Shehrbano Taseer recounts the story of how her father, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, was assassinated by his own security guard just last week. She speaks of the threats against her father, who was an outspoken critic of the country's "draconian and often misused blasphemy laws." Supporters of Taseer's father were warned by militants to attend memorial vigils at their own risk. Upon learning that, in the wake of her father's murder, she is expected to have always be protected by a guard, Taseer asks, "If the governor of Pakistan’s largest province can be shot dead by a policeman assigned to protect him in broad daylight in a market in the federal capital, Islamabad, is anyone really safe?" Here are a few important points of her op-ed, including her criticisms of Pakistan's antiterrorism courts.
Her Father's Murder
According to the postmortem report I read, they recovered 27 bullets from his body, which means the gunman actually reloaded his weapon so nothing would be left to chance. Each one of my father's vital organs was punctured by the hail of bullets, except his heart and larynx--his mighty, compassionate heart and his husky, sensible voice.
Free to Incite Violence
Speaking to camera crews the same day from jail, 26-year-old Qadri said he had killed my father because he had criticised the country's draconian and often misused blasphemy laws. It seems that Qadri was also inspired by the rally against my father on 31 December, at which rabid protesters demanded his blood. Yet no arrests were made over this brazen incitement to murder.
The inability of the state to prosecute terrorists successfully is proving fatal for Pakistan. The country's antiterrorism courts, where Qadri was presented, have a sorry record on convictions, and have been clogged by non-terrorism cases. The state is unable to gather evidence properly, make a cohesive case and ensure the safety of those who provide evidence against the militants. It is a different matter when it comes to trying poor, underprivileged Pakistanis--Muslims and non-Muslims alike--accused of blasphemy. Under pressure from the mobs outside, Pakistan's lower-level courts convict quickly, but these convictions are almost always overturned by the higher judiciary, although the accused (and in some cases the judges) are then killed by vigilantes.
Conclusion: Where Pakistan Must Go From Here
My father's assassination was a hate crime fuelled by jihadist fervour, abetted by some irresponsible sections of the media and sanctified by some political actors. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing. The loss of one good man must not deter others. Pakistan's very future depends on it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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