THE merciless killing of Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province Salman Taseer did not come as a surprise just as he had himself said so on Twitter, almost on premonition in December 2010. The dastardly assassination of the high official reflects on several grave issues in Pakistan today. First, the security guard who killed him had been having a record of delinquency and was banned five months ago by a provincial police official from providing security to VIP personnel. Faisal Raza Abidi, special political adviser for Pakistan’s President told the media that the director inspector general of Punjab police had earlier barred Muhammad Mumtaz Qadri because of his extremist views, and it had been determined it was unsafe for him to guard important officials. Now the point that becomes moot, especially in a highly surcharged security environment like Pakistan, is that how did Muhammad Mumtaz Qadri get a posting in the internal circle of security of an important person whose has been known for his straight talk on liberty and religion.
Almost as predicted Muhammad Mumtaz Qadri killed Salman Taseer in broad daylight and leaving no chance for the Governor to survive the brutal attack. Most journalists who have been interacting with Taseer, including Christina Lamb, Sunday Times foreign correspondent and an unparalleled expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan, wrote about their exchanges with Taseer on various religious issues Pakistan is grappling with in the recent times.
Intelligence agencies in Pakistan had warned officials in 2004 not to use Muhammad Mumtaz Qadri after they discovered connections between him and the religious group Dawat-e-Islami — a Sunni group that claims it has a closer connection to Prophet Mohammed than other Muslims. The two main questions raised in international forums these days after the death of the governor of the Punjab province is that has religious zealots infiltrated the security systems in Pakistan quite irreversibly. Though India and Indian experts have always maintained that Pakistan as a country has been a moth-eaten state precisely because the power and influence of religion has been all-pervading to the extent that extremists have wide support base, the developments in recent history starting with the equally brutal killing of Wall Street Journal South Asian correspondent Daniel Pearl, have slowly made the West, and America in particular, see the truth as it is.
Wikileaks by Julian Assange have confirmed America’s real understanding of the situation in South Asia and its master ploy to play along Pakistan to keep its interests secured — all this even if President Barrack Obama’s officials in public forums talking about Pakistan’s ability to control the ever-increasing threat of religious extremism which will soon subsume the country,
What would also come as a surprise for India is that the Western media is no more enamoured by the freedom struggle in Kashmir, which often resulted in tacit support for Pakistan in its coverage in the past. The American media has been recently making it amply clear that giving away Kashmir to Pakistan would only mean extending the extremism in Pakistan to the valley. The shut-up-or-be-shot-dead philosophy of the religious extremists which often gets correlated to terrorism all over the world, has found lesser and lesser takers in the West. The killing of the governor of Punjab province in Pakistan was about four Muslim women being served water by a Christian lady and the religious overtones of that snowballed into a major crisis and the arrest and death sentencing of the Christian lady Asia bibi.
Governor Salman Taseer had spoken against the blasphemy law in Pakistan and its abrogation in keeping with modern, civilized tenets of legal system. His outspokenness attracted severe reproach from even the educated class in Pakistan. But the killing of the governor of Punjab province only proves that bringing back Pakistan from the brink will be an almost impossible task. Not even the West and the Americans believe that economic resurgence and inclusive growth can help matters.