Eight days ago, Salmaan Taseer was shot dead.
Eight days later, Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin, is being hailed as a hero and speeches lauding Qadri are being publicly made. Threats are hurled at anyone who condemns the blasphemy laws. Sections of the Urdu press find ways to explain how Taseer brought this upon himself. The Pakistan People’s Party co-chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari may have condemned the public wave of support for Qadri, but it does not change anything. The Prime Minister has announced that the blasphemy laws will not be changed. And Aasia Bibi, the woman who’s languishing in jail? She’s still there, waiting for her appeal proceedings, while back in her village, her neighbours question, “Why hasn’t she been killed yet?”
Then, this pops up in the old city of Lahore (via @Mahraani):
Translation: We salute Mumtaz Qadri, the lover of the Prophet.
There is no escaping this fact: this is the country that we live in. As Feisal Naqvi put it in his op-ed yesterday:
“I do not want to live in a country where people can be executed for blasphemy. But I only get to choose my opinions. I do not get to choose my own facts. And the fact is that the people of Pakistan really want to execute people who they think have committed blasphemy. I can either accept that fact or I can seek to change it. But to act as if that fact does not exist is not sensible.”
As a Pakistani, I’ve never felt so defeated in my life. I really did believe in the resilience of this nation, how we got up, picked up the pieces and moved on. I thought I’d heard of and seen enough terrible things in the country, but I wake up every morning now, read the news, and lose my appetite. I don’t want to leave, but I do want to hide under the duvet and hope that when I finally resurface, it will somehow be a better morning. For now, as Faiz Ahmed Faiz put it, “yeh dagh dagh ujala, yeh shab-gazida sehar/woh intezar tha jis ka, yeh woh sehar tau nahi.”