Published on the pioneer, by Kanchan Gupta, March 09, 2011.
After the blazing Kalashnikovs fell silent, all that remained were the bullet-ridden body of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Minorities, and pamphlets floating in the air. Another man who had raised his voice against that country’s horrific and inhuman anti-blasphemy laws had been executed by the “warriors of Islam” as the killers identified themselves in the pamphlets they left behind. In early-January, the Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab Province, Salman Taseer, who could be mercurial and harboured some outlandish views, especially on India, was killed by his bodyguard, Malik Mumtaz Hussain, a member of the elite Special Forces who turned out to be a bearded jihadi. Both Taseer and Bhatti were ‘guilty’ of demanding amendments to the anti-blasphemy laws and hence, the self-appointed defenders of Islam decided, deserved to die … //
…Shehrbano Taseer helpfully informs us that “The blasphemy laws were foisted on to Pakistan by the draconian General Zia-ul-Haq in 1986. Since then, more than 500 Muslims, 340 Ahmadis, 119 Christians, 14 Hindus and 10 others have been charged under the laws. Thirty-two of those accused — and two Muslim judges — have been mowed down by Islamist vigilantes. Since January 4, the day my father was assassinated, there have been 16 known cases in which 23 people have been affected. Once a law is made in the name of religion, no one can touch it.” Such is life in Pakistan where boys barely into their teens or even younger are made to strap themselves with bombs and pull the trigger to demonstrate their adherence and loyalty to Islam. It’s immaterial what the Quran says or doesn’t say; theological hair-splitting is rendered irrelevant by such stomach-churning bloodletting as we witness in Pakistan today. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state… You will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state. I look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest nations of the world,” Mohammed Ali Jinnah had thundered in Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. This speech is often referred to by those who live in denial and refuse to accept the reality of Pakistan’s transmogrification into what it was always destined to become: A failed state where the Army seeks comfort in a steadily increasing stockpile of nuclear weapons and limitless American aid; cynical politicians seek power by cohabiting with the ‘warriors of Islam’ and their ideological mentors; and, the masses believe, or have been brainwashed into believing, that the cause of their mounting sorrows and miseries is India. Pakistan is today anchored not in Pakistani pride but overwhelming hate that is all consuming; like Frankenstein, the Pakistani state, cheered on by its people, has bred and nurtured a monster hoping to unleash it on others. The monster has turned on its master.
Which brings me to the Left-liberal commentariat and intelligentsia in India: For some strange, inexplicable reason, they feel guilty about Pakistan’s rapid descent into barbarianism. As after Salman Taseer’s assassination, the Left-libbers in India have been vociferous in denouncing the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti and prompt in shedding copious amounts of crocodile tears. The Left-libbers’ grief would have been touching but for the fact it is so much bunk. Here’s why. The Left-liberal commentariat and intelligentsia remained stunningly silent when Bangladeshi dissident writer Taslima Nasreen was being hounded by mullahs and their storm-troopers in India. There were no voices, not even a whimper, of protest when Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen goons assaulted her in Hyderabad. There was undisguised glee when the CPI(M) used manufactured rage against Taslima Nasreen to chase her out of Kolkata. I know it for a fact that many of those in India who are waxing eloquent on the “assault on freedom of expression and liberalism” in Pakistan had ‘advised’ the Government of India, exploiting their ‘connections’ with the Congress, not to extend Taslima Nasreen’s residence permit.
There’s more. The Left-liberal commentariat and intelligentsia have been vicious while lashing out at those who have dared criticise the abuse of sharia’h and Muslim Personal Law or sought a uniform civil code to protect the rights and dignity of Muslim women in India. They gloss over the most regressive actions and utterances of mullahdom and accuse their critics of indulging in Islamophobia. To see them grieving over the killing of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti is laughable.
As for Pakistan, it’s a state that continues to crumble, bit by bit. Jinnah’s dream of creating a homeland for the sub-continent’s Muslims has turned into a frightening nightmare for both Muslims and non-Muslims. Pakistan’s tragedy is much like that of Humpty Dumpty — all America’s arms and all America’s dollars can’t put Pakistan together again. (full text).