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Statement on assassination of Salmaan Taseer

January 7, 2011

Pamphlet distributed after Friday prayers in Karachi, Jan 7, 2011, threatening PPP MNA Sherry Rehman and anyone else who supports amendements to the ‘blasphemy laws’

Citizens for Democracy, Pakistan:

Position and Press Statement on assassination of Salmaan Taseer

Karachi: Citizens for Democracy (CFD), a nation-wide umbrella group of political parties, trade unions, professional organisations, NGOs and individuals, strongly condemns the cold-blooded and cowardly murder of Salmaan Taseer.

The unarmed Governor of Punjab was shot in the back in the most cowardly manner by one of his own bodyguards on Jan 4, 2011, following a concerted propaganda campaign that falsely accused him of having been disrespectful to the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon on Him). This campaign was conducted in the media and through the mosques.

We strongly condemn those who are glorifying the assassin, who opened fire at the back of an unarmed man. We express our concern at the Rawalpindi District Bar Association’s support to the murderer and the offer to contest his case free of any fee, which signifies support for the murderer.

There is no proof of ‘blasphemy’ against Taseer. Even in the case of Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced by a sessions court for alleged blasphemy, the sentence has yet to be confirmed by the High Court and then by the Supreme Court before she can be considered guilty and executed.

The questions arising from this assassination indicate the involvement of retrogressive forces in Pakistan that have over the past couple of decades made inroads into all sections of society and institutions of the state, including those institutions upon which Pakistani citizens rely for their security.

  • The assassin, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, was assigned to the elite force guarding the Punjab Governor even though he (Qadri) was earlier removed from the Special Branch because he was perceived as a security threat.
  • How did he end up on the security detail of a Governor who was already receiving death threats?
  • Why did the other guards not open fire, as per standard operating procedures in VIP guard duty? (In Qadri’s confession after his arrest, he said that he had told his colleagues what he was going to do and asked them not to open fire, as he would surrender.)

While appreciating the arrest of the cleric who had offered a reward for Taseer’s murder, and of the other guards who were on duty and did nothing to protect the Governor, we demand:

Detailed inquiry and names of those responsible for this negligence should be made public and they be tried in a court of law.

  1. Action and a legal process against all the guards on duty, who have been apprehended and placed in police custody, for they are accomplices.
  2. Legal proceedings against the cleric Yousuf Qureshi of the Mohabat Khan Masjid, Peshawar, who at a public gathering on Dec 3, 2010 offered a Rs 500,000 reward to kill Aasia Bibi if her death sentence was not confirmed by the High Court.
  3. Legal action against the Tanzeem-e-Islami for distributing threatening pamphlets (attached) against PPP MNA Sherry Rehman.
  4. Legal action against those who continue to indulge in hate speech and threaten those who support amendment of the ‘Blasphemy Law’.

We reiterate our stand that no one has the right to take the law into their own hands and kill anyone, regardless of whether they are accused of blasphemy or any other crime.

CFD was formed at a meeting convened by Professional Organisations Mazdoor Federations & Hari Joint Committee (POJAC) on Dec 19, 2010 in Karachi. POJAC member organizations include:

1. Sindh High Court Bar Association
2. Pakistan Medical Association
3. All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation
4. Mutahida Labour Federation
5. Karachi Union of Journalists
6. Pakistan Workers Federation
7. All Pakistan Trade Union Federation
8. All Pakistan Clerk Association
9. Democratic Labour Union State Bank of Pakistan
10. UBL Workmen Union (CBA)
11. National Bank Trade Union Federation
12. Karachi Bar Association
13. Pakistan Nursing Federation
14. National Trade Union Federation
15. Sindh Hari Committee
16. Govt. Sec. Teachers Association
17. Pakistan Hotel And Restaurant Workers Federation
18. Mehran Mazdoor Federation
19. All Sindh Primary Teachers Association
20. Sindh Professor Lecturer Association
21. Malir Bar Association, Karachi
22. Pakistan Trade Union Federation
23. Railway Workers Union Open Line (cba) Workshop
24. Mehran Railway Employees Welfare Association
25. All Pakistan Trade Unions Organisations

In addition to POJAC, CFD members and those endorsing the above statement include:

26. Awami Party
27. Labour Party Pakistan (LPP)
28. Progressive Youth Front (PYF)
29. Communist Party Pakistan (CPP)
30. Peace and Solidarity Council
31. Pakistan Institute of Labour, Education & Research (Piler)
32. Action Committee for Human Rights
33. Dalit Front
34. Commission for Justice and Peace (CJP)
35. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
36. Caritas
37. Aurat Foundation
38. Women’s Action Forum (WAF)
39. People’s Resistance
40. Sindh Awami Sangat
41. National Organisation of Working Committees
42. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
43. Child and Labour Rights Welfare Organisation
44. Progressive Writers Association (PWA)
45. Port Workers Federation
46. Shirkat Gah
47. Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC)
48. Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA)
49. Sanjan Nagar Public Education Trust (SNPET)
50. Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN)
51. Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF)
52. SAP-Pakistan
53. AwazCDS-Pakistan
54. GCAP-Pakistan
55. Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF)
56. Labour Education Foundation (LEF)
57. Progressive Youth Forum
58. National Students’ Federation (NSF)
59. The Researchers
60. Tehrik-e-Niswan
61. Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD)
62. Crises Support Group of Residents for Defence and Clifton, Karachi
63. Baaghi: A blog for secular Pakistan
64. Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP)
65. Ansar Burney Trust International
66. Viewpoint International
67. Pakistan Youth Alliance

Contact: Citizens for Democracy –

44 Comments leave one →
  1. Shayma Saiyid permalink
    January 17, 2011 10:15 pm

    Please add my name to the list of supporters of this statement.

  2. beenasarwar permalink*
    January 16, 2011 6:05 am

    From Dr Ruqaiya Hasan in Australia (received via email as she had trouble accessing the comments section):

    I read the posting with care and agree entirely with the demands. Please count me as a supporter.

    I agree also that the attack on Salmaan Taseer was cowardly; I would add that it lacked in the essential Islamic quality of compassion: how can a Muslim praise God five times a day for being “the most merciful of the merciful” and yet exercise thoughtless brutality against his creatures? There is no two ways about it: the guard behaved in a cowardly, inhumane (that is to say NON-ISLAMIC) and ignorant way.

    I would demand the prosecution of all those persons as abettors of the crime of murder against whom proof can be found that they incited such activity. I condemn the action of the Rawalpindi District Bar Association’s support to the murderer, and call upon the highest judicial authorities of Pakistan to show the same regard for judicial processes which they displayed against ex-president Musharraf. How can a Bar Association be seen as a viable administrator of justice if it aid and abets the killing of another human without trial?

    Further, one interpretation of this tragic event is to treat it as the result of the actions of a group of desperate people who know their days are counted; they are forced to recognise that there is now in the country a momentum towards true political awareness, towards the rejection of ignorant, prejudice based actions, and towards the affirmation of the need for a true democracy. If this is the case, it must mean that every one who cares for Pakistan’s welfare must double their efforts in ways that encourage rational political education, condemn prejudice and ignorance, and seek modes of governance that will take steps to penalise such heinous activities — especially when they are taken in the name of Islam.

    Ruqaiya Hasan

  3. Nughma Siddiqi permalink
    January 11, 2011 7:11 pm

    I endorse this petition.

  4. Taimur Rahman permalink
    January 11, 2011 7:55 am

    Please also include Laal (the band) in the list of endorsing organizations.

    Taimur Rahman
    Spokesperson for Laal

  5. Niilofur Farrukh permalink
    January 11, 2011 5:13 am

    I endorse this petition.
    The Blasphemy Law needs to be amended so it cannot be misused to settle scores.

  6. Nuzhat Kidvai permalink
    January 9, 2011 10:52 pm

    I endorse this petition.
    Zia’s Blasphemy Laws need to be amended so they cannot be misused & the necessary checks must be introduced.
    In all cases where the accused was not found guilty of Blasphemy, the accuser must be punished and an equal punishment for false accusation should be added
    Incitement to kill & abetment to murder must be punished, and the culprit must be punished as an accessory after the fact.
    This law is a tool to terrify, as all it takes is for any person to accuse another and the life of the accused & the entire family is destroyed.
    Most Blasphemy accusations proved to be false and other reasons such as enmity, revenge, taking over property etc were the cause of the accusation.
    Most importantly the Blasphemy Law is not based in the Quran and actively negates the Sunnat of the Prophet (PBUH).
    The Blasphemy Law cannot be called Islamic as it is not based in the Quran. It was created by Zia as a powerful tool for repression and control, which he wanted. This is why it is made without checks in such a way that it is easy to accuse & kill someone through this law. Nawaz Sharif added the mandatory death penalty to appease the Mullas to stand with him against BB.

  7. Shayan Afzal Khan permalink
    January 9, 2011 9:14 pm

    I also endorse this petition. We must speak out for a tolerant Pakistan – there might not be another opportunity. It is shameful that the lawyer community have shown themselves to be cowards, and that our so-called progressive parties have shown no courage or conviction. We need leadership – there are people who still have the courage to take steps to fight this self-righteous violence, but we need coordination.

  8. H R Sheikh. permalink
    January 9, 2011 8:10 pm

    i really want to know whether we live in a civilized society or in a banana republic? Where a security guard can kill his master brutally. About two year ago a bodyguard of a lady killed that lady claiming that she did not wear “Shari” cloths. And now an insane religious fanatic police personnel has killed Governor. This is a gross shame for nation all around,and indeed a big big loss. We already are in shortage of well qualified and rational people. And most discouraging thing is that instead of condemning this horribly crime masses are supporting his murderer, And Mullah are exploiting it with very dexterity.
    And i want to know isn’t there any law in this country by which such criminals, who are instigating this extremism and hatred, can be booked? and such pamphlets have not been distributed for first time. This has become a fashion of mullah to distribute such literature after every Jumah prayers.

  9. January 9, 2011 4:50 pm

    I would like to extend my support and The Association of British Muslims ( – the UKs oldest muslim group – the so-called blasphemy laws are a form of high blasphemy against Islam we believe Pakistanis need to wake up to the disease of Mullahism that has replaced Islam.

    The Association of British Muslims will be putting together a press release soon.

    Please never ever lose hope – The Islam that the Last Prophet pbuh preached and taught is nothing what these political mullahs preach – please let us stand up together

  10. Kabir permalink
    January 9, 2011 9:45 am

    South Asian states are becoming autocratic with every passing day. In India we have Sedition Act under which a Human Rights Activist & Doctor was thrown in jail, Pakistan is having Blasphemy law. Sinhala Nationalism v/s Tamil Nationalism in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh & Maldives are also drowning in the wave of Islamic Fundamentalism.

  11. Atif Amin Thakkur permalink
    January 8, 2011 7:29 pm

    I hope people will understand more the power of FATWAS and ISLAM and its sensitivities. So please be very careful next time.

    • H R Sheikh. permalink
      January 9, 2011 8:55 pm

      harsh but true , you have said. : (

  12. Anis Dani permalink
    January 8, 2011 7:16 pm

    I endorse this statement. The murder of Salman Taseer is symptomatic of a cancer that has been allowed to fester since the 1950s when the first pogroms took place against the Ahmadis. Silence is just as dangerous as speaking up because it continuously yields ground to those who now openly preach hate crimes and get away with murder. Note that every regime has given ground to religious extremists — ZAB to save his government in 1973 and 1977, Zia for reasons we well know, NS and BB by continuing Zia’s policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan giving rise to the Taliban, Musharraf to appease right wing politicians willing to support him, and now AAZ who was not man enough to attend Salman Taseer’s funeral but will attend Richard Holbrooke’s. The absence of votes has been offset by the tremendous institutional and social space claimed by the religious groups through the Shariah Court, not to mention their monopoly over the mosques and madrassahs. The question is whether a balance can be restored or if the game is lost entirely. Turkey, Indonesia and Bangladesh suggest that there is room for separating religion from the state. Will Pakistan follow that route or is it too late? Whether we like it or not, and whether the White House likes it or not, Pakistan is now too important to be surrendered to the extremists. The western media has started portraying this as a civil war, and if the state does not act quickly that is what we will get. But it will not be pretty.

    • H R Sheikh. permalink
      January 9, 2011 8:16 pm

      Breif but comprehensive story by Anis Dani. And please let me allow it tittle as “journey: Pakistan to kingdom of fear.”

  13. Sonai permalink
    January 8, 2011 2:28 pm

    Please endorse my signature in favor of this statement.
    @Chris: I agree with you, but is it always a majority that makes a difference. The majority is brainless and indoctirnated people. Moderates are few but they have brains to make a differecne. It will take a long time though.

    • H R Sheikh. permalink
      January 9, 2011 8:19 pm

      Sonia i little disagree its always minority makes difference. Majority is alway brainless. And i agree that its long time to go, but wish its not true.

  14. January 8, 2011 1:32 pm

    And then there is this from a very sober commentator indeed….

  15. January 8, 2011 11:23 am

    Thanks for sharing this story. Religious fanatics has no place in a civic society. It is up to the moderate cutting across countries to speak in one voice where ever fanatic raises its ugly head. People of India always wanted a democratic, progressive and prosperous Pakistan and wish to live with our peacefully with our neighbors.

    • H R Sheikh. permalink
      January 9, 2011 9:03 pm

      If Pakistan and India come to resolve Kashmir issue peace fully, according to UN resolutions, all of extremism issues on both sides of boarder will be resolved automatically. If India had punished “Samjhota Express” culprits it would have made things better, if not fully but significantly. If God forbid Pakistan collapse the biggest sufferer after Pakistan will be India.
      So india should also stop intruding in Balochistan and stop funding terrorist in FATA through Afganistan.

  16. January 8, 2011 10:20 am

    @ Beena…yes, I know that the religious parties have never polled more than 6% in any election, but there is a world of difference between the ballot box and the jaloos. I strongly suspect that the ‘measure’ you refer to is more illusion than reality. Would I like to believe there was a moderate majority? Most certainly, and for many years I carried that belief. but the last three years or so have seen a sea-change in public and private attitudes. There has been a complete failure by government to countervail the swing to the right, Zias children have risen up the ranks to positions of power and influence and the natiional mood is now firmly rooted in the intolerance camp. I heard the mullah fifty feet from where I am now sitting this afternoon call for the death of all kaffirs. Note kaffirs, not just blasphemers. The congregation cheered him and I heard them. This is not a particularly radical mosque, just a little Bahawalpur backwater. Sorry Beena, I do not have your faith in this ‘moderate majority.’

    • Zahra Arif permalink
      January 8, 2011 11:43 am

      I agree with Chris Cork. We tend to be silent and go about our otherwise productive lives, and increasingly, we are a diminishing minority. And successive governments have shown a shoddy and shameful dereliction in righting the public wrong of brazen bigotry. The lawyers who are on record lauding this murderer Qadri, should be disbarred right away as officers of the court. Jumma prayer leaders who incite death and violence should be removed from leading prayers. And certainly, certainly, this complete capitulation from the government to not re-visit or debate the Blasphemy law is squalid and compounds the problem.

      • H R Sheikh. permalink
        January 9, 2011 8:23 pm

        Indeed but i only want to add little more if you dont mind, he should not only be removed from leading prayer but should be arrested and should be charged against.

  17. January 8, 2011 8:00 am

    @Zain Hassan @beenasarwar : Religion has always been used to further ulterior motives and history is littered with examples. It is not because Islam preaches it so, nor that we as a people are radical fanatics; but simply that our knowledge is so limited. We will not dare question something that is handed to us in the name of religion.

    “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” (slightly tweaked quote by Mark Twain)

  18. Tanveer Jahan permalink
    January 8, 2011 7:18 am

    Democratic Commission for Human Development also endorsed the statement

  19. January 8, 2011 6:26 am

    The Taseer murder was the watershed, the tipping point, in the way no other profile killing including that of Benazir Bhutto, ever was. It marks the accession to power of the majority, and they are not moderates. Actual terrorists are relatively few and far between, but those who support them and those whose minds have become as black as the blasphemy law itself, are now a clear and powerful majority. They are are new rulers, and those of us who have deluded themselves that there is a ‘moderate majority’ somewhere out there just waiting to spring to life, need to remove the scales from their eyes and ears. There never was a moderate majority. It was a pious assumption, not a reality. Who ever measured this ‘moderate majority’? Did any poll ever support its existence? Did it ever turn out more than a few hundred in any sort of protest? Time to stop kidding ourselves ladies and gentlemen…the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

    • beenasarwar permalink*
      January 8, 2011 10:04 am

      Chris – I understand the despair but consider – the ‘moderate majority’ has been measured. When they’ve been allowed to exercise their right to vote, they have never voted in the extremist religious groups. This may of course change as demographics change, and the confused youth we see supporting Qadri start to vote, but that’s where we’re at now.

  20. Nadia permalink
    January 7, 2011 8:58 pm

    What a fearful atmosphere created in the country? I am ashamed on those who are involved in this madness. I can’t say more that it has exposed what we have harboured in our schools, colleges and univeristies since 63 years. Are we coming to an end? Pleasend a petition to educational ministeries to change the curriculum and syllabus that gives us this kind of product. This is absolute bigotry and perversion taught in the name of religion. It is sickness that prevails in the society.

    • H R Sheikh. permalink
      January 9, 2011 8:52 pm

      of course not only midrissas are spreading intolerance in our society but also our other educational institutions are equally responsible for this. All of history and Islamiyat is taught in a slanted way. And mosques should be fully controlled by State and should be locked after prayers. Sermons should be issued by Government on purely ethical and social issues. And all mullah should be government employees and should be rotated in different cities. Loud speakers should only be used for “Azan” and sermons should be given in internal sound systems. there should be separate mosques for “Jumah Prayer” so it can be controlled well. No mullah should be allowed to receive any perk or gift from any person or organistion, they should submit there list of assets like every other govt. employee.

  21. Nadia permalink
    January 7, 2011 8:54 pm

    I absolutely condemn this brutal act and the fanaticism that followed later. It has threatened all of us. Please accept my vote in favor of this statement.

  22. January 7, 2011 5:42 pm

    I got the similar pamphlet after Jumma prayers this afternoon. This stupidity is like spreading virus to all levels of society we are not just polluting our youth with religious extremism but we are preparing a mind-set which shall become threatening for world peace.
    The image of prophet is as sacred as it was before Aasia bibi, but so called maulanas are now using holy prophet as an emotional source to ignite intolerance and I don’t know why government is supporting them. I think Musharraf’s polices were far more better against all those fatwa machines (maulanas). Government should ban “fatwa system”, “wajib-ul-qatal system” and Madrassa system”.
    Maulanas have become more dangerous than guns; bullets can kill one but fatwa can murder many.

    • beenasarwar permalink*
      January 7, 2011 7:30 pm

      Well said Zain Hasan: “Maulans have become more dangerous than guns, bullet can kill one but fatwa can murder many.” But I disagree with you regarding Musharraf’s policies that are partly responsible for the situation today as he did a ‘u-turn’ from ‘talibanisation’ in Afghanistan while turning a blind eye to Pakistan’s homegrown jihadis in Punjab, allowing the indoctrination to continue because he wanted to keep those ‘strategic assets’ to needle India in Kashmir.

      • Naziha permalink
        January 8, 2011 8:18 am

        I totally agree with you Beena. It confounds me as to why people don’t realise that Musharraf’s eight years in power gave a further lease of life to those who want to pull Pakistan down the road to extremism. One can’t have “enlightened moderation” while appeasing the right-wing at the same time.

      • January 8, 2011 12:24 pm

        I agree Beena about his intentions of “allowing the indoctrination to continue because he wanted to keep those ‘strategic assets’ to needle India in Kashmir.” The same argument I think to a degree applies to the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India as well. A communal mob becomes a political weapon. The irony — that despite their differences the founders of both countries Nehru and Jinnah wanted their nations to be secular democracies above everything else.

      • January 9, 2011 5:34 pm

        Good thinking but you got half the problem wrong. Yes, indeed part of Pakistani “establishment” (whoever they are) have been concerned only with keeping what you call “strategic assets to needle [one could use a more crude figure: finger] India in Kashmir.” But our problem is that we tend to think of “establishment” and “army” and “state” and political parties as monolithic entities.
        On the contrary, Musharaf, while appeasing the “establishment” just enough was also negotiating the end of the mother-of-all their “necessities” (as enshrined in the notorious doctrine of necessity): the Kashmir problem. Secret diplomacy requires utmost secrecy to succeed. The end of Kashmir problem would have spelt more heartbreaks to more people than can be imagined, and hence the need for utmost secrecy. Sadly he did not succeed. The lawyer’s movement (and his own stupidity, of course, in dismissing a chief justice–no matter how bad he was–in such a brash manner) strangled that back-channel diplomacy at the 11th hour. Read here

        Imagine: with Kashmir problem solved, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir would have stabilized and the “establishment” would have been orphaned. Not only our own, but many “establishments,” not to mention countless businesses, arms dealers and manufacturers, countries even. Perhaps it was too bold a vision. Do we, as a nation, deserve better? Sadly no: as a nation we’ve shown that we rather prefer the mob-rule of “educated” and “civilized” lawyers.

    • Bilal Akbar permalink
      January 8, 2011 7:43 pm

      Dear All,

      You all poeple are well educated and have good understanding.please guide me if i am wrong.
      Salman Taseer deserve that kind of treatment. The Tahafuz-e-Namus-e-Resalat(S.A.W) LAW is correct. If somebody is giving comments against the Prophet(S.A.W) in an Islamic country, then he deserve the punishment.
      On the other side if any Muslim is using that law for his personal revenge, then this is very bad and that person should be hanged out. If someone is claiming that any body said wrong wording about the Prophet(S.A.W), he have to prove it through evidences, otherwise he deserves the punishment.

      Tha law is correct. The salman taseer’s mistake is that he told that law is wrong and cruel.
      thats why he treated well. In my opinion he have to say that the usage of law is wrong in some cases.(that statement is acceptable.)

      In aasia’s case, the court gave the decision after seeing the evidences and aasia also accepted the allegations. So court’s decision is right and there is no misuse of that law in aasia’s matter. She deserve that punishment.

      The real situation is that westren media polluted our minds. They are producing regular campaigns against Islam, Our Aalims and on our mudrissaas.

      Every one in westren media is showing that extremism is growin in Pakistan, especially in young generation. That is not extremism, that is love. The love of Prophet(S.A.W) is the part of our EMAAN.

      Killing of innocent people is not allowed in Islam. those people who are mostly involved in sucide attacks in Pakistan are not Muslims.(that is a ground reality), they are hindus, etc.

      Remember: CIA is doing its largest campaign of its history in Pakistan. Pakistan army killed a larger amount of extremist in many military operations and the bodies of killed extremists shows that they are not Muslims.(i am pointing the khatna).

      So whats your opinion about that?

    • H R Sheikh. permalink
      January 9, 2011 8:35 pm

      Although Musharaf’s policies were not ideal. But Zain is right in saying he was far better than others.


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  5. Newsline » Blog Archive » Resolution by the CFD
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