The past few weeks, people in the United States, have been focused on horrific assassinations in Arizona. Fortunately, nobody is defending the actions of a mad man who perpetrated these acts. In some ways, his crimes might result in a more civil tone in political discourse in the United States, at least for a short period. However, an assassination in Pakistan might be a lot more consequential in the world affairs.
The governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer was gunned down on January 4th by one of his guards, 26-year-old Mumtaz Qadri, apparently because of his outspoken opposition to his country’s anti-blasphemy laws. The assassination of the governor of Punjab is the country’s most high-profile in three years.
In a sign of mainstream media opposition, Pakistan’s leading Urdu-language newspaper, Jang, ran a front-page story declaring: “There should be no funeral for Salman Taseer and no condemnation for his death.” Additionally, more than 500 Muslim scholars are praising the governor’s assassin because the politician opposed blasphemy laws that mandate death for those convicted of insulting Islam.
Over 1000 lawyers from Islamabad’s high court have signed up to defend the assassin (Mumtaz Qadri). They believe the assassin was totally justified since a supporter of a blasphemer is also a blasphemer and must be killed. Mumtaz Qadri, yelled before being taken away by police,”I stand by blasphemy law, I am slave of Prophet Mohammad and I’ll do what he said”.
The irony is, lawyers are suppose to uphold the laws, taking the law into your hands in support of political or religious edict is contrary to law and order in a civil society. A lawyer from Islamabad’s high court, Farooq Sulehria, told AFP that the assassin would find no shortage of support.
Salman Taseer’s daughter gave an interview to BBC, in which she condemned her father’s assassination. She has now been threatened by a Muslim organization to death and the organization’s head has not been arrested or questioned in any way.
The Pakistani government appears to be paralyzed and more liberal elements in the country are scared for their lives. Fundamentalists seem to have found a symbol to rally around. They are acting much more threateningly; many of them want to over throw the government and to establish a Sharia law. This breakdown in law and order is extremely dangerous, in a country with a nuclear arsenal. No wonder President Obama has a lot more gray hairs these days.