Pakistan is reeling emotionally and politically from the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer who was shot to death on Tuesday by one of his own bodyguards. This brazen act by a religious zealot not only ended the life of a great man but has left a glaring void in political leadership, a destabilizing secondary blow which could also prove fatal – to Pakistan’s government.
Yasmeen Ali, a Pakistani writer who has been published inThe Daily Times and the Pakistan Observer and is also the owner and moderator of the Pakpotpourri Blog, expressed her thoughts and feelings to me last night regarding this tragic event:
Salman Taseer, Governor Punjab was shot dead on 4th Jan. 2011. He was not a “professional politician”. Salman Taseer was a qualified chartered accountant from England. A man who rose to eminence as a bold and successful businessman, owner of an English Daily, a popular TV channel and many other business interests. A man hailing from an excellent family background, educated, with amazing business acumen. A cut above the other politicians. He was seen close to President Zardari and a PPP stalwart. A man with an exceptional quality of dealing with a cross-spectrum of politicians.
His murder, coming on the heels of MQM declaring an end of alliance with the PPP Government in Sindh, has left PPP increasingly vulnerable in Punjab. Reeling from his sudden death, PPP is left to fill the gap in face of a 6 day ultimatum by Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N to meet their demands in Punjab. A tall order. Finding a candidate to fill Taseer’s shoes capable of commanding the kind of respect Taseer did, in Punjab, where he held the fort, will be a tough call. A challenge for the PPP Government. A weak choice can only weaken PPP in Punjab.
In a recent youtube/google interview Mr. Taseer expressed a sincere level of pride in his homeland, saying it was a country with a lot of history and spirit, as he pointed out a recent Newsweek magazine cover that called Pakistan “the bravest country in the world” in reference to the country’s struggle with and survival from historic floods – a sentiment with which he had wholeheartedly concurred.
Taseer goes on to explain how the cover captured the essence of Pakistan, underlining that his country had taken hits that would have caused most country’s to collapse. Taseer said that Pakistan has faced and survived terrorism, floods, and assassinations. He described the great strides Pakistan had made, especially with respect to going from a quasi-military dictatorship to a representative form of government and a society with a free press.
Taseer fought especially hard for human rights and equality during his entire career. According to the New York Times, Taseer, true to form, recently posted the following profound message on Twitter, encapsulating a lifelong philosophy:
My observation on minorities: A man/nation is judged by how they support those weaker than them, not how they lean on those stronger.
(Michael Hughes is a journalist and foreign policy strategist for the New World Strategies Coalition (NWSC), a think tank founded by Afghan natives focused on developing political, economic and cultural solutions for Afghanistan. Mr. Hughes writes regularly for The Huffington Post and his work has appeared in CNN.com and Ruse the magazine. Michael graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in History).
NOTE:This is a cross post.