January 5, 2013

2 years later we still don't deserve you Salman Taseer

Salman Taseer
On the day Salman Taseer was murdered, I was invited to a BBC World radio show called World Have Your Say. What I witnessed in the one hour I was part of it has shamed and scarred me forever. The guests on the show, learned Pakistanis belonging to the well-to-do diaspora spent the entire show regaling the baffled listeners with how Salman Taseer deserved to die. They announced to the world they were happy he had been killed. They announced to the world this is what Islam tells us to do. They announced to the world that given the choice, they would love for this to happen again.

I scratched my head and tried to understand what had hit me. Really? Forget Islam, forget Pakistan. Forget Quaid-e-Azam and forget Iqbal. As human beings, is this really what we've sunk to? Pumping 27 bullets into a man just because we disagree with him? But I should have known better. I should have known that this is Pakistan. Logic, debate and argument do not work here. Justice comes to die here. Corruption is rampant and the law of the land is 'might is right'.

I should have known better because in August 2010 two brothers, Mughees and Muneeb were butchered at the hands of a mob in Sialkot. For 7 hours they were beaten while hundreds looked and egged the perpetrators on. Sticks, stones, batons. Nothing was left behind. Their limbs broke. With no respite they passed on. Then their bodies were hung upside down in the town square until someone from their family came and begged the mob to let them be. To let them be. I should have know then that Pakistan had died.

I should have realized that even the self proclaimed saviors of my country are nothing more than a bunch of sorry losers who are incompetent and complicit in perpetrating heinous crimes. Less than two months after the Sialkot incident I was witness to a murder being perpetrated in the middle of a bazaar in Lahore with an army check point less than 700m away. I should have known then that it was hopeless. All this was so hopeless.

And then in January of 2011, we saw how Salman Taseer was gunned downed. The shooter shot him like a coward but he was garlanded and proclaimed a hero. Social scientists will most probably bang their heads together and proclaim what is the matter with these people? But I know what's the matter with them. I know that as a human race we Pakistanis have failed to evolve. Instead we're actually sliding back towards the Dark Age and if left unchecked we'll reach there pretty soon. Vestiges of that era have already begun to show up in our society.

I meant to write this blog as a tribute to the man known to the world as Salman Taseer. But as you've probably realized I simply could not stop thinking about the madness that has engulfed us all. I feel so frustrated and so helpless at my plight. I want to change everything but I know I cannot. Even if I could I wouldn't be allowed to do so. Might is right in Pakistan. Confusion, paranoia and an affinity to chop of any semblance of sanity are the characteristics of my country and my people. And then we ask the world what is wrong with it?

Pakistan did not deserve Salman Taseer because he tried to argue with common sense. He thought he would get away with it but he was wrong. Lack of common sense combined with madness and misguided zealotry caught up with him. I hope he's resting peacefully wherever he is now.

I wish I could wish the same for Pakistan; that it rest in peace too. But it continues to burn brighter and stronger everyday with no let up. I wish it'll stop. I wish a newer and stronger Pakistan will emerge. But that's what it all is. A wish. Nothing more. Nothing less.