Did I just see you hug and kiss a murderer?

I am speechless, yet I am writing this – well I am a Pakistani and contradictions by me are acceptable, just as long as I don’t flaunt them. Yes its hypocrisy but whatever.

Frankly as a society, I thought, we had passed the pre-dark age era of debate over common security. I mistakenly thought it was given that no one would harm another, and would follow course of law if he or she has been hurt by another. It seems that question isn’t yet settled and The News Pakistan wants your views on it.

Ask anyone why was a brute murder was hugged as a hero by so many today, response you get is this is ‘because of lack of education’. Personally, I am yet to see evidence of this. You see when you are fully uneducated, you know that you know nothing (incidentally thats the same feeling one hears from people who are highly educated). Trouble is when you are ignorant of your ignorance. When you have been fed on half-truths, sensational and hyperbolic stories, outdated notions and conspiracy theories, you are bound to be misinformed. But because you have undergone some degree of effort to ‘acquire’ this, however wrong ‘information’, you feel that you do know something. Thus not only are you misinformed, you are bullish about it. It takes large amount of humbleness to then accept that you may be wrong in your understanding, and may need to change your outlook But humbleness is the last thing you gain from a misinformed source. On the contrary, there is always a defence mechanism that prevents you from actually enlightening yourself to other point of views. This is to ensure that dogma remains intact, if it questioned then it reveals its fallacies and we just can’t have that.

When Zia started to spread his version of Islam in Pakistan, which allowed him to get more Saudi backing and, more importantly funds, give a political cause to his adventure in Afghanistan and to his illegitimate regime. He knew that he required some way of ensuring that his power isn’t questioned. So the introduction of Blasphemy law. This law stops any kind of rational and critical argument in its tracks. Further more, its a law that is ripe with misuse with dire consequences on the person against whom it is perpetuated.

See for example PPC 295A : ‘Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs’

This then can easily be used to interpret that anything said which is even critical of any religion or religious thought, is blasphemy. This may be true, say if you say anything critical against a wahabi belief, that you as a Muslim don’t agree with. Like say someone’s attire that you think doesn’t necessarily reflect Islamic tradition.

Such a potent tool to kill any critical discourse on religion. What boon for a regime that uses religion and claims ‘do you want Islam?’ as justification for its coming to power. Subsequently the mullahs whose manifesto for how they would run country if they ever come into power is ‘Allah would provide’. They use this to stop any criticism of gaping loopholes in their totally non-viable manifestos. Further at local level, when local mullah needs to exert some influence, he uses his power from pulpit. However when asked, as one is likely to be asked in such a position, they utilise blasphemy to curb any such criticism and hide their shortcoming.

Take this further to even sinister conclusion. See the murder of hafiz-i-Quran in Gujranwala at behest of a jealous less literate local mullah as narrated by Kamran Shafi

One can then understand the interest of the bearded ones in status quo, but what of the middle-class men who otherwise claim to be progressive and want pragmatic solution to the country’s problems. Lets take example of the lawyers who today did the unspeakable act of horror by welcoming a murderer as hero.

So there you have it – conclusion for our urban middle classes is that its all right to kill anyone who we think doesn’t agree with our understanding of religion. Because not agreeing with us automatically makes them non-Muslim, blasphemer and thus worthy of death. If you were worried how we’d react to Talibans, well good news they are already here and are us, and we seem to be doing all right! Isn’t that a silver lining?

You see when you say you want rule of law, you should understand what you are asking for rule of THE Law, not your version law nor my version of law. Law is clear, and it can’t be any more clear that killing a man in cold blood over his views is murder. When you are wearing a black coat yet find murder excusable. You have done great injustice to the tradition of the bench and the coat, which was donned by some of the greatest men in the modern history. Further more it goes against your own profession. You are the officers of the court, you strive for due process and fair trial of the accused. Instead condoning extra-judicial act, is not only immoral but also against your own interest. Its like a doctor condoning a quack, only with darker ominous consequences.

Late Governor’s crime was that he publicly denounced a law that was directly responsible for misery and death of many innocent people – they were innocent, we know now when subsequent revelations showed foul play in their accusation. He wasn’t the only one, evidently the concept of blasphemy law in Hanifism (the sect that overwhelming majority still claim to follow) doesn’t exist. Taseer’s argument wasn’t even that law should be repealed. Instead he sought to have it amend. so as to ensure there are no false accusations, by raising the cost of false accusation. Even this is evidently too much. According to many any piece of legislation that has religious bases, is sacrosanct and it mustn’t be touched.

But wait, I hear you ask, didn’t Gen. Musharaff repel Zina ordinance and wasn’t Hasba bill also found null and void. That happened in General’s rule and as a rule that doesn’t count. Its only when people’s elected representative seek to do away with any thing like this is there trouble. Otherwise Mullahs are happy to let things be – such is the power of Khaki, that even iman of pure began to dwindle.

But its not only that fear factor. Why do the non-bearded ones join the ranks of beards against such an unjust law? Well when asked how can they support a murdered, the Qadri admirers were heard as saying that ‘killing that unrepentant drinker and fornicator is no crime’. There lies the hint to why so many joining the mindless mayhem.

You see when you decide to shave, cut hair, have a good life and have impure thoughts; you have effectively joined the ranks of sinners. That is if you have been schooled properly, you would believe this. You feel bad about it, you can’t live with yourself, but can’t live without the lifestyle either. The Catholic guilt is more alive in middle-class Pakistani Muslims than whole of Europe. When the unrepentant men like Taseer emerge, they become very good targets. This also explains the brouhaha over danish cartoons. Its very difficult to live according to the puritanical lifestyle you see for yourself, but it is definitely easier and simpler to cry foul and form a mob and lynch others. It not only helps with releasing psychological affects of the guilt of living non puritanical life twinned with stress of daily life, it surely must be good for the soul and lessen some of the sins.

Oddly the reason for kissing Qadri is same same as kissing of Pir Pagara’s hand or a shrine of a Pir or a Shah. Though former hate the latter and consider them to be non-muslim practitioners, former still have so much in common with latter. You see when a devotee goes to a Pir or Murshid’s shrine, they go because they feel that his person has acquired a connection with God and thus if they use their ‘source’ with God to help forgive their sins or help fulfil their prayers. Similarly the men who kissed Qadri did so because they believed Qadri had done an act for God and thus Qadri has come in to His good book. This means kissing him would make them favourable to God as well, and may be this would lessen their sins.

What is more worrying is that when you have such a guilt ridden frame of mind, you are fodder for extremists. It won’t take much to exert monetary favours from such men for the ’cause’ of Islam and then use this for nefarious purposes – oh wait, thats already happening!

International reaction to this incident would be of two sorts. First, when media reports of murder of Punjab Governor is followed by news of petal showering on the murderer, there emerges a perception that people are so angry at the current government that they are willing to embrace people assassinating them. Secondly as it emerges that Governor Taseer was killed for his views on amendment of Blasphemy law then it becomes clear that how people are quickly becoming radicalised. Already the current government has lost majority in the house, and could lose coming elections. If it does lose, its likely that extreme right may win the elections and then start radical Islamist reforms. Which would include appeasement, to giving confidence, to outright support to Talibans and Al Qaida. If its latter, then Pakistani nukes can easily be within reach of Talibans and Al- Qaida as well. Thus democratic experiment can be counterproductive, instead a more pragmatic government would be more acceptable. This is what Kiyani, Pasha et al, were hoping for. Given the chance that they may march back in power. They need justification internally and externally. Those excuses could be the imminent march of Taliban externally, and corruption, lack of majority and political infighting internally. I think somewhere in GHQ, the speech with ‘meray piyaray hum watno’ may already been taken out of the safe.

Challenge for the government then is to counter this move and not allow derailment of the political process. Though they may be vocal and they may hold powerful positions in the institutions of establishment, the Qadri sympathisers are not the majority. The vast majority of the people, those downtrodden for which the party was made and for whom so much poetry written, intellect spent and lives lost, they surely never can stand with bigoted. You see you need to think of yourself as ‘big’ to be bigoted – a luxury many can’t afford to even contemplate. If they held such sway, then political history of Pakistan would have been different, and party with secular manifesto would not have been the largest party in the country.

Taseer’s interview with CNN on Blasphemy Law, hope it clears his views on the issue

Post Script: After having established that Taseer was wajab-ul-qatl by speaking against an unjust law, and that Qadri was a hero for doing a crime of highest order, punishable by death.

Certain Ulema then considered praying at the funeral of the late Governor as forbidden. Gladly there are still millions of people who see through the truth and still came to janazah namaz. Sadly many of them now would have to re-do their nikkah

9 responses to “Did I just see you hug and kiss a murderer?”

  1. Abdul Nishapuri/Editors of LUBP,

    Permission to use abusive language against Mardood Qadri… please.

    Thank you.

  2. isn’t the name Mumtaz Qadri itself become an abuse, among the right thinking people – like Yazid

  3. Although many countries have now abolished such laws many still retain them and not all of those who have these laws are Muslim majority states.
    It is thought that Pakistan has the most strict blasphemy laws of them all!
    In the British Isles the last person to be executed for blasphemy was one Thomas Aikenhead aged 20 who was hanged on 8th of January 1697.
    The indictment read:
    That … the prisoner had repeatedly maintained, in conversation, that theology was a rhapsody of ill-invented nonsense, patched up partly of the moral doctrines of philosophers, and partly of poetical fictions and extravagant chimeras: That he ridiculed the holy scriptures, calling the Old Testament Ezra’s fables, in profane allusion to Esop’s Fables; That he railed on Christ, saying, he had learned magick in Egypt, which enabled him to perform those pranks which were called miracles: That he called the New Testament the history of the imposter Christ; That he saidMoses was the better artist and the better politician; and he preferred Mahomet to Christ: That the Holy Scriptures were stuffed with such madness, nonsense, and contradictions, that he admired the stupidity of the world in being so long deluded by them: That he rejected the mystery of the Trinity as unworthy of refutation; and scoffed at the incarnation of Christ.
    Thomas Babington Macaulay said of Aikenhead’s death that “the preachers who were the poor boy’s murderers crowded round him at the gallows, and. . . insulted heaven with prayers more blasphemous than anything he had uttered.” More recently, George Rosie wrote in the newspaper The Scotsman, “The killing of Thomas Aikenhead, like the hounding of Salman Rushdie for the same ‘offence,’ was a disgrace. . . a prime example of a God-fixated state killing a man in an attempt to stop the spread of an idea.”
    The continuing existence of such laws in Muslim countries and Pakistan indicates that a large part of the Muslim world still lives in primitive times.


  4. Ilm Din murdered Raj Pal and Quaid defended him in court at Allama Iqbal’s behest. Funeral was attended by 200,000 in Lahore. Mawlana Zafar Ali Khan said ahead of the burial: “Alas! If only if I had managed to attain such a blessed status! As Iqbal placed the body of Ilm Din into the grave, he tearfully declared: “This uneducated young man has surpassed us, the educated ones. This was in 1929 & in 1930 Iqbal gave vision of separate homeland for Muslims. Any connection with Ilm Din saga ?
    Now we have Qadri in 2011, being showered with flowers and kissed with religious fervor. Pakistan has 100 nukes. What next ? Will another lawyer, poet or mullah demand a separate homeland for far right qadrisism ?

  5. Article in NYT on shameful response of some of Pakistan’s legal profession to killing of SalmaanTaseer


    Pakistan Faces a Divide of Age on Muslim Law

    Cheering crowds have gathered in recent days to support the assassin who riddled the governor of Punjab with 26 bullets and to praise his attack — carried out in the name of the Prophet Muhammad — as an act of heroism. To the surprise of many, chief among them have been Pakistan’s young lawyers, once seen as a force for democracy.

    Pakistani Assassin Says He Acted Alone (January 11, 2011)
    Pope Urges Blasphemy-Law Repeal (January 11, 2011)
    Their energetic campaign on behalf of the killer has caught the government flat-footed and dismayed friends and supporters of the slain politician, Salman Taseer, an outspoken proponent of liberalism who had challenged the nation’s strict blasphemy laws. It has also confused many in the broader public and observers abroad, who expected to see a firm state prosecution of the assassin.

    Instead, before his court appearances, the lawyers showered rose petals over the confessed killer, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a member of an elite police group who had been assigned to guard the governor, but who instead turned his gun on him. They have now enthusiastically taken up his defense.

    It may seem a stark turnabout for a group that just a few years ago looked like the vanguard of a democracy movement. They waged months of protests in 2007 and 2008 to challenge Pakistan’s military dictator after he unlawfully removed the chief justice.

    But the lawyers’ stance is perhaps just the most glaring expression of what has become a deep generational divide tearing at the fabric of Pakistani society, and of the broad influence of religious conservatism — and even militancy — that now exists among the educated middle class.

    They are often described as the Zia generation: Pakistanis who have come of age since the 1980s, when the military dictator, Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, began to promote Islam in public education and to use it as a political tool to unify this young and insecure nation.

    Today, the forces he set loose have gained such strength that they threaten to overwhelm voices for tolerance in Pakistan’s feeble civilian government. They certainly present a nagging challenge for the United States.

    Washington has poured billions of dollars into the Pakistani military to combat terrorism, but has long neglected a civilian effort to counter the inexorable pull of conservative Islam. By now the conservatives have entered nearly every part of Pakistani society, even the rank-and-file security forces, as the assassination showed. The military, in fact, has been conspicuously silent about the killing.

    “Over time, Pakistani society has drifted toward religious extremism,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political and defense analyst from Lahore. “This religious sentiment has seeped deep into government circles and into the army and police at lower levels.”

    “The lower level are listening to the religious people,” he said.

    Indeed, the Pakistan of today, and the brand of Islam much of the nation has embraced, is barely recognizable even to many educated Pakistanis older than the Zia generation. Among them is Athar Minallah, 49, a former cabinet minister and one of the leaders of the lawyers’ protest campaign against Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 2007 and 2008.

    Mr. Minallah studied law at Islamic University in Islamabad from 1983 to 1986, and the first lesson any student learned in his day was that the preservation of life was a pillar of Islamic law, he said.

    But under General Zia in the 1980s, the government began supporting Islamic warriors to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the Indian control of Kashmir, and the syllabus was changed to encourage jihad. The mind-set of students and graduates changed along with it, Mr. Minallah said.

    That change is now no more apparent than among the 1,000 lawyers from the capital, Islamabad, and the neighboring city of Rawalpindi, who have given their signed support for the defense of Mr. Qadri, who has been charged with murder and terrorism.

    Their leader is Rao Abdur Raheem, 30, who formed a “lawyers’ forum,” called the Movement to Protect the Dignity of the Prophet, in December. The aim of the group, he said, was to counter Mr. Taseer’s campaign to amend the nation’s strict blasphemy laws, which promise death for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

    In interviews, Mr. Raheem and six of his colleagues insisted they were not members of any political or religious party, and were acting independently and interested only in ensuring the rule of law.

    Pakistani Assassin Says He Acted Alone (January 11, 2011)
    Pope Urges Blasphemy-Law Repeal (January 11, 2011)
    All graduates of different Pakistani universities, they insisted they were liberal, not religious conservatives. Only one had religious training. They said they had all taken part in the lawyers’ protest campaign in 2007 and 2008, and that they were proud that the movement helped reinstate the chief justice.

    Yet they forcefully defended Mr. Qadri, saying he had acted on his own, out of strong religious feeling, and they denied that he had told his fellow guards of his plans in advance. He was innocent until proved guilty, they said. They have already succeeded in preventing the government from changing the court venue.

    In their deep religious conviction, and in their energy and commitment to the cause of the blasphemy laws, they are miles apart from the older generation of lawyers and law enforcement officials above them.

    “I felt this is a different society,” said one former law enforcement official when he saw the lawyers celebrating Mr. Qadri. “There is a disconnect in society.”

    The former security official, who has worked in fighting militancy and who requested anonymity because of his work, said that within just four hours of the killing, 2,500 people had posted messages supporting Mr. Qadri on Facebook pages.

    Mass rallies championing him and the blasphemy laws have continued since then.

    This conservatism is fueled by an element of class divide, between the more secular and wealthy upper classes and the more religious middle and lower classes, said Najam Sethi, a former editor of The Daily Times, a liberal daily newspaper published by Mr. Taseer. As Pakistan’s middle class has grown, so has the conservative population.

    Besides his campaign against the blasphemy laws, it was Mr. Taseer’s wealth and secular lifestyle that made him a target for the religious parties, Mr. Sethi said.

    “Salman had an easygoing, witty, irreverent, high-life style,” he said, “so the anger of class inequality mixed with religious passion gives a heady, dangerous brew.”

    Government officials, analysts and members of the Pakistan Peoples Party, the secular-leaning party to which Mr. Taseer belonged, blame the religious parties and clerics who delivered speeches and fatwas against Mr. Taseer for inciting the attack. On Monday, Mr. Qadri, who confessed to the killing, provided a court with testimony saying he was inspired by two clerics, Qari Hanif and Ishtiaq Shah.

    The police say they are now seeking the clerics for questioning, but with the growing strength of the conservative movement on the streets, religious leaders — even those who incite violence and terrorism — are nearly untouchable to the authorities and are almost never prosecuted.

    The blasphemy law has been condemned by human rights groups here, who say it has been used to persecute religious minorities, like Christians, and on Monday, Pope Benedict XVI called on Pakistan to undo the law. But the law has become an opportunity for religious parties looking to whip up public sentiment, Mr. Sethi said.

    A dark presence in the background is the military establishment, which has sponsored the religious parties for decades, using them as tools to influence politics and as militant proxies abroad. The military also has a heavy influence on much of Pakistan’s brash media, which fanned the flames of the blasphemy issue with sensationalist coverage.

    “Democracy has brought us a media that is extremely right-wing, conservative,” Mr. Sethi, 62, said. “Most are in their 30s and are a product of the Zia years, of the textbooks and schools set by the Zia years, which are not the sort of things that we were taught.”

    “The silence of the armed forces is ominous,” Mr. Sethi added.

    Indeed, whether on the military or civilian side, the government has failed to act forcefully on the case at every stage, the former security official said. Whether through fear or lack of policy, it has done little to challenge the ideology behind the attack or the spreading radicalism in Pakistani society.

    “The entire state effort has been on the capture and kill approach: how many terrorists can you arrest and how many can you kill,” the former security official said. “Nothing has been done about the breeding ground of extremism.

    “Unless the government does something serious and sustained,” the official warned, “we are on a very dangerous trajectory.”


  6. That’s an excellent article, I agree with your views and I like the way you conveyed them..

  7. I am flabbergasted to read this in today’s Dawn:

    Assassin frays nerves of police
    ISLAMABAD, Jan 11: Governor Salman Taseer’s assassin is proving a cause of friction between the Punjab police and Islamabad police.
    Dawn has learnt that the Adiala Jail authorities, drawn from the Punjab police, maltreated and played games with the capital police squad which went there on Monday to deliver Malik Mumtaz Qadri on judicial remand.

    Knowledgeable sources said SP City Circle has written a letter to the Inspector General of Police of Islamabad to raise the issue with the Punjab police and action against the jail officers for their “non-professional attitude”.

    According to the sources the security squad was flabbergasted to find the jail gate closed on it. The gatekeeper said he had no orders to open it where as Adiala Jail Superintendent Mohsin Rafique had been informed officially of the movement of the accused.

    In fact, the jail superintendent was kept informed about the distance covered by the squad on its way to the jail.

    Frantic calls to the officer went unanswered and the security escort stood exposed outside the jail for over 20 minutes.

    “This caused great security concern as there was imminent danger of escape and threat to the life of the criminal,” the sources said, quoting from the letter. Lives of escorting police personnel were in danger too as officers dealing with the case have received threats.

    Escort officers, including an SP, DSP and four inspectors, finally succeeded in persuading one of the jail guards to let them in, the sources said.

    But more hurdles awaited the capital police inside. “Once inside, the escort and the armoured personnel carrier carrying the criminal were kept outside the main block (where paper work had to be completed) despite repeated request,” said the sources.

    Thirty more minutes were lost before SP City Circle heading the Islamabad police team that brought Qadri to prison, could gain access to the jail superintendent’s office – but not without hassle.

    While the Islamabad police officer was complaining to the jail superintendent about “the casual, negligent and discourteous and non-cooperative attitude” of his staff, the deputy superintendent of jail grabbed him and tried to snatch his weapon on the plea that police rules demand a junior must not bear arms when visiting a senior officer. The Islamabad SP brushed him aside reminding him that he was senior in grade to the jail superintendent.

    Later, the hurt officer reported the ugly episode to the IG and DIG Islamabad in a letter. He wrote that the events at the jail put the security of his contingent at great risk “and the attitude of the jail staff was discourteous and insulting to say the least and could have created an embarrassing situation”.

    Despite several requests, Superintendent of Adiala Jail Mohsin Rafique remained unavailable for comments.

    The telephone operator of jail refused to put through the calls to him and provide his mobile and residence numbers.