Blaming the victim – by Sana Jokhio

It has come to our attention that a certain section of (fake) civil society (FCS) is using the martyrdom of Governor Taseer to malign the remaining PPP leadership. At a recent candle light vigil in Islamabad, where PPP supporters were also present, Farzana Bari and a couple of others used the solemn occasion to take petty shots at President Zardari. In light of these cheap tactics, we are publishing the following post by Sana Jokio that analyses the murder of Governor Taseer. (Editor)

Pakistan’s self-labelled civil society (comprising a few media advisers and consultants, members of NGOs and foreign agencies) has been making the following assertion:

The PPP has Governor Taseer “blood on its hands” because they abandoned him out of fear and “hung him out to dry”.

This is wrong on the following:

1. Obscuring the issue

Governor Taseer’s killing should be viewed in context and as part of an emerging effort to create the next MMA. In that regard, it worked to unite the Islamists against the PPP and this is a great development for the establishment.

Before the JUI breakaway, both JUI and the Barelvis were under control of the PPP government and supportive of the much larger battle against the Taliban and its local Jihadi partners (SSP, LeJ, LeT, JM etc). The Jihadis had alienated the rest of Pakistan and the attacks on Data Darbar and Abdullah Shah Ghazi had widened the gap between the Deobandis and Barelvis; the latter represent the largest sectarian denomination in Pakistan.

The Deep State needs could not afford to have the Islamists divided on the Strategic Depth policy that is still being maintained at the cost of Pakistan and the murder of Governor Taseer provided a boost to the sagging policy of strategic depth; i.e., the use of Jihadi proxies to gain control of Afghanistan and Kashmir.

2. Diluting and even denying the role of other players

MQM: Put the coalition under even more pressure. Constantly proclaiming oneself as secular does not change the reality on the ground especially when MQM starts supporting the Jamaat Islami on Aafia Siddiqi and stay silent on the blasphemy issue. Did they support Taseer before he was killed or were they too busy coercing the Government and fuelling violence in Karachi in order to control more of the city. They have behaved like the opposition while enjoying the benefits of being in the government coalition.

ANP: They have too many problems and continue to be stuck between the pincer of the Taliban and the establishment.

PML N, Q, PTI : Supporters of the Taliban, two of them made very diluted and safe statements on the blasphemy issue. Furthermore, PTI and the PMLs don’t ever have to worry about Jihadi backlash as they actively support them. Civil society is welcome to place their hopes in them like they did with the movement to restore the compromised bureaucrats like Chaudhary Iftikhar. However, before they do that, they must explain that the Blasphemy Law had been given parliamentary cover under a PML N which had 2/3 majority in parliament. The guard who killed Governor Taseer was provided for by the Punjab governor; yet no one is talking about PML N’s role in this affair. Is there a rift within PML N between a hard pro-Taliban faction and a soft Taliban faction under Nawaz Sharif which is loosing influence in the party. Taseer’s killing suggests that there is a is plausible connivance of PML N and if they don’t come clean then political forces which again serves the Establishment.

Judiciary: Avowedly anti-secular and pro-Jihadi, they have a track record of being the establishment B-Team and continuously disrupting the democratic process by interfering and derailing the efforts of the elected legislature and executive. Contrary to what earnest supporters of the lawyers movement believed, they remain pro-jihadi and pro-establishment. Evidence is their soft corner for jihadis, not taking suo moto on Taseer’s shahadat and against the flagrant baiting of tasser’s killers and supporters. Establishment links also reveal on continuing lack of interest on Baloch abductions and missing people. When some of us wrote that the lawyers movement (particularly the post election phase) was like the PNA we were told to be disingenuous apologists for Zardari.

Media: Were even more instrumental in inciting hatred against Governor Taseer than mullahs; Mehr Bokhari has the blood of Governor Taseer on her hand. Her interview where she draws a dishonest analogy between the blasphemy law and allegedly similar laws in Canada, Denmark and the United States that prosecute on the basis of religious criticism is patently dishonest.

Not to mention, the disgusting manner in which she placed Governor Taseer into a corner and coerced him into providing ammo to the Jihadis. The same can be said for much of the media like Ansar Abbasi, Shahid Masood, Orya Maqbool and Nasim Zehra. Also in her program on the 6th of Jan she and Orya equated Qadri with Ghazi Ilm din without even mentioning that Taseer had committed no blasphemy.

[Fake] Civil Society: Hated Taseer when he was alive and remained conspicuously absent when Taseer’s personal life was being dragged out for his loyalty to the PPP. Also they did no mobilization after he had stuck his neck out and went to see Aasia Bibi. Their political understanding and stupidity is also legendary! Furthermore, they have never properly addressed the role of the establishment in promoting religious extremism. They link it to geo-political events and NOT to the deliberate use of State resources to spread the poison of bigotry.

As it turns out they are the ones who fully supported and marched with the black coats in a dubious cause and thus, they too have Governor Taseer’s blood on their hands by positively associating with those who showered rose petals on his killer. By continuing to associate themselves with a counter democracy movement that strengthened a prejudiced and Jihadi-evangelist judiciary, can they too be held responsible for Taseer’s murder?

By continuing to worship the judiciary and side with them against the elected representatives, the fake civil society has proven that they, wittingly or unwittingly, are also in agreement with the establishment’s policy of strategic depth – the policy that provides the oxygen to extremism. Instead of falsely posturing themselves as have they have, have they ever called out Altaf Hussain for staying put in London instead of going after remaining the PPP leadership.

It is PPP and ANP leaders and activists who are being killed. From BB to Taseer to many ANP elected representatives and their relatives, it is they who have suffered while the MQM backstabbed the coalition on the Kerry Lugar Bill that called for action against the Jihadis! It was PPP jiyalas that ensured that Salman Taseer would have a burial and namaaz NOT the fake civil society. The fake civil society (FCS) should do some maths and come to their senses in realizing that the PPP does not have the numbers to do anything on the blasphemy law. On the contrary, without PPP’s Afzal Chishti (who is now receiving death threats for leading the funeral prayers) and its Jiyalas, would Salman Taseer’s funeral even have been possible?

The PPP and the Future

This might not be the right time to do anything that would jeopardize the larger struggle of weaning the State away from its destructive Jihad policy. A mass party cannot alienate all religious factions, especially when there is no support from other parties. Politics dictates making tactical retreats. Ultimately it is the PPP which will remain the fulcrum around which all liberal gains can be achieved.



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