'Heroic' Salmaan Taseer lived and died for secular Pakistan, says daughter

Lahore, Jan 10 (ANI): Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, who was assassinated by his own bodyguard last Tuesday, "lived and died for Pakistan", his daughter Shehrbano Taseer has said.

"Everything he had, he invested in Pakistan, giving livelihoods to tens of thousands, improving the economy. My father believed in our country's potential. He lived and died for Pakistan," Shehrbano wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times.

"To honour his memory, those who share that belief in Pakistan's future must not stay silent about injustice. We must never be afraid of our enemies. We must never let them win," she added.

She said Taseer often quoted a verse written by his uncle Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of Urdu's greatest poets, "Even if you've got shackles on your feet, go. Be fearless and walk. Stand for your cause even if you are martyred."

Shehrbano said the assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, and his supporters "may have felled a great oak that day, but they are sadly mistaken if they think they have succeeded in silencing my father's voice or the voices of millions like him who believe in the secular vision of Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah."

She recalled that her father's life was "one of struggle." He was a self-made man, who made and lost and remade his fortune, she said, adding that he was among the first members of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) when it was founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the late 1960s.

Shehrbano said her father believed that the strict blasphemy laws instituted by General Zia ul-Haq "had been frequently misused and ought to be changed", but his liberal views were "widely misrepresented to give the false impression that he had spoken against Prophet Mohammad."

"This was untrue, and a criminal abdication of responsibility by his critics, who must now think about what they have caused to happen. According to the authorities, my father's stand on the blasphemy law was what drove Mr. Qadri to kill him," she added.

Shehrbano noted that there were people who said Taseer's death was the "final nail in the coffin for a tolerant Pakistan", and that the country's "liberal voices will now be silenced."

"But we buried a heroic man, not the courage he inspired in others," she said, adding that two leading conservative Pakistan politicians- former Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan- had taken the same position that her father held on the blasphemy laws: "they want amendments to prevent misuse." (ANI)

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