Nadeem F Paracha
Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer, was assassinated yesterday (January 4) by one of his security guards. The guard, who soon gave himself up to the police, proudly claimed that he killed the late Governor because Taseer had described the controversial blasphemy law as a ‘black law.’
Shocked? Well, about time. Governor Taseer’s murder is just a symptom of the creeping tyranny of religious hatred and demented self-righteousness each and every Pakistani has been living under for a number of years now.
Today, only a handful of Pakistanis are willing to stick out their chins and brace themselves for a possible beating for calling a spade a spade, and the late Governor was one of these brave souls.
There are very few vocal Pakistanis in this regard (in politics, media and cyberspace), who continue to face the music, tunes and threats of utter hatred thrown towards them not only from the usual faith-driven fascists who have taken it upon themselves to kill and harass in the fine name of Islam and God, but also from a rising (and strange) breed of ‘modernists’ who just cannot get their disfigured egos to admit that yes, Pakistan today has perhaps become one of the first examples of a fascist faith-based dystopia.
Never mind the animalistic murderers who in their pursuit to ‘safeguard faith’ have actually become a raving mockery of the whole concept of ashraful makhlukat (i.e. they have simply ceased being the humans that God created), but what about the educated ones, who too had a problem with Governor Taseer’s stand?
Since I would like to believe that there is still some essence of humanity left in them, there will be some who will be wishing and hoping that a theological justification is found behind such murders so they may acquit themselves of defending hatred in the name of faith and patriotism.
Alas! There is simply is no justification, theological or otherwise. Respected and deeply learned Islamic scholars like Javed Ahmed Ghamidi have repeatedly insisted that there is no historical or theological example or space in the workings of Islam for a law such as the blasphemy law.
But of course, what value or weight does reason and tolerance have in a country that is rapidly on a downward spiral towards a social and political abyss? It is a bottomless pit that many of us continue to insist is the reason why the founders created Pakistan.
This warped insistence that hell is actually heaven, comes cramped with a number of feeble arguments where renegade hate mongers, wily religious exploiters and their many animated soundboards in both print and electronic media try to whitewash their dark bile with chants against drone attacks and the blood of their ‘fellow countrymen’ who are being killed by the bullets of the Pakistan Army in the northwest.
Ordinary citizens are killed in our markets and mosques by the heroes and romanticised mujahids of these people. But instead of condemning such acts, they return to Aafia Siddiqui and the drones; politicians are assassinated for exercising their right to speak against injustices taking place in the name of faith, and they again return to Aafia and the drones; they and many of their children travel to the West for studies and business, and yet, they still talk about the drones.
It is as if drone attacks are the root cause of all evil, madness and bloodshed in this country. But aren’t the drones a more recent phenomenon, some four to five years old? The ignorance, intolerance and violence erupting in this holy dystopia of ours took lives long before the word ‘drone’ even entered our populist vocabulary, so what nonsense are these hate mongers on about?
Surely they can make a fool and a willing victim of a thoroughly disturbed and neurotic society with their lies, fake bombast and loud piety, but do they really think they can dodge their own conscience? These romanticised terrorists certainly can, because since they have stopped being humans, they have thus lost their conscience as well.
But all those politicians, preachers, columnists, TV anchors and their hung-over followers who, after Taseer’s statement against the blasphemy law, were beating the drums of hatred and passing judgments on matters over which only God alone has jurisdiction – what about them?
Are they happy? Do they feel triumphant? I doubt it. They will go back to doing what they do best: repress their guilt and the little humanity left in them by becoming even louder about their love of God and country and how angry they are because of, yes, you guessed it – the drone attacks.
I say, shame on you. I, as a Muslim, refuse to be categorised with cowards like you who have made a mockery of my country and my religion all over the world. Stop now before each one of you completely loses whatever little God’s greatest gifts are left in you: humanity, kindness, forgiveness and reason.
I say, renounce the hatred, the ignorance and bile you have been peddling as faith and justice. It is you who are God’s and this country’s greatest enemy, and may God alone have mercy on you.
Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com.