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The gruesome murder

Filed on January 6, 2011

The murder of Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistanís Punjab province, who was gunned down in Islamabad by a member of his own security detail, is horrifying. The despicable act goes on to prove the level of extremism that has crept into the body-politick of Pakistan, as the assassin confessed of plotting and executing it as a revenge exercise.

The ill-fated governor, who was highly educated and a man of opinion — irrespective of the controversies that shadowed him — was a liberal activist, and one who strongly believed in evolving a pluralistic political culture. Thus his reported utterances in favour of amending the blasphemy law inevitably landed him in dire straits. Though Taseer had time and again reiterated that his contention has been misinterpreted, it is quite unfortunate that he had to pay with his life. His killing should come as an eye-opener for a society that is reeling under terrorism and where emotions rule the roost when it comes to religion and politics.

It is incumbent upon the government to not only prosecute the culprit, but also dwell into the network that would have motivated the assassin to act in such a daredevil manner. A purge of security forces countrywide cannot be ignored any further, as this trend of eliminating opponents is simply disgusting and cannot be tolerated under any pretext. What is more unfortunate is the fact that a number of religious organisations have exhibited an unapologetic attitude towards the cold blooded murder and are taking refuge behind expediency calls. This has pitched them in direct confrontation with a host of civil society organisations, and many of the political parties, who are progressive and secular in their outlook. Irrespective of perceptions on either flanks of the divide, the government should make it a point to address extremism with an iron hand and uphold the banner of communal coexistence and constitutional rule over the indoctrination of unscrupulous elements.

Pakistan is in a difficult phase these days by virtue of ensuing political instability and soaring economic miseries. This new trend of target killings, in the midst of terrorism all around, can come as a deadly blow to the social fabric and infant democracy in Pakistan. Unearthing and bringing to book the conspirators behind Taseer’s murder will be a great service to the nation and go on to build the confidence of the people in the state. Taseer’s gruesome murder should not be viewed as another act of terrorism.


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