Salmaan Taseer’s condolence reference – Liberals surmount threats by clerics


KARACHI – A large number of people from all walks of life including trade unionists, politicians, journalists, nationalists and doctors attended a condolence reference in remembrance of late Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer at the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) House on Tuesday.
The reference was arranged by Citizens for Democracy – a joint network of several non-governmental organisations, professional bodies, independent journalists, trade unions, rights organisations, civil society organisations and individuals.
Initially, it was decided that the reference would be held at the Pakistan Arts Council, but after receiving threats from some religious groups, the Arts Council administration refused to hold the event at its premises. The venue was hastily changed to the PMA House.
Addressing the meeting, Member National Assembly and Pakistan People’s Party Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab termed Taseer’s murder as a shock for the progressive Pakistani citizens.
“Where are we going? This is not our destination! Who gave anyone the authority to kill someone? No one has the right to kill others by declaring them as wajibul qatl,” Wahab said. She said that enlightenment, education and democracy are the future of the country and propagation of this mentality would lead the nation out of darkness. She urged enlightened groups to unite for making Pakistan an enlightened democratic fort.
Former federal minister Iqbal Haider said that Taseer’s martyrdom was a great lesson for the nation and the extremists were giving death threats to anyone saying anything on the issue. “Taseer was not a common man. He was a representative of the federation and his death is not a minor incident,” Haider said. He urged the people to continue their struggle until their goal is achieved. Sindh Chief Minister’s Adviser on Planning and Development Dr Kaiser Bengali paid rich tributes to Taseer and said that the late governor was a great person who sacrificed his life for humanity.
“Extremists are glorifying the killer. Even lawyers showered the murderer with rose petals and this was a condemnable act,” Bengali said. He said that religious extremists of the country want to seize power, which is why they are involved in such incidents. “Save the liberal and secular values. Everybody must step forward and fight extremism.” Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) Secretary-General Asif Baladi condemned the brutal murder of Taseer and said that the party had announced a war against extremism at the birth anniversary ceremony of JSQM founder GM Syed in Sann Town.
“Our leader Syed had told us that religion is a personal matter of every human being and it cannot be made as the state religion. Everyone is struggling for independence and is against extremism,” Baladi said.
National Party’s Jan Muhammad Baladi said that Taseer supported the common man and no one else has so far attempted to do this, but he was killed.
“After Taseer’s martyrdom, the rulers have started talking about withdrawing the blasphemy bill, which is a terrible act,” he added. Korangi Church’s Father Thomas Gulfam said that despite being Pakistani, Christians are suffering in the country.
He said that Taseer was a brave man who sacrificed his life just to save the member of a minority group and his community salutes him for his bravery. During the reference, Mohsin Saeed read a message sent by the Taseer family, which said, “His (Taseer’s) martyrdom would not be in vain. He sacrificed his life for those people who are unable to protect themselves in Pakistan due to the increasing religious extremism and we are proud of him.”