Pakistan elite silent after Taseer assassination
By Mosharraf Zaidi, Special to CNN
January 11, 2011
(CNN) -- The assassination of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer by his bodyguard last week seems to confirm prejudices about Pakistan as a country where moderate voices are in danger, where violent extremism is widespread and where investors aren't very safe.
Taseer, ever the entrepreneur, the tycoon and the irrepressible Pakistani patriot, would reject that vociferously. If he could tweet his thoughts from heaven, the prejudiced would have hell to pay. His plain-spoken manner and blunt style were often a political liability. But for all his political faults, Taseer's was a rare courageous voice.
He was murdered for speaking out in defense of a poor, defenseless Christian woman in a village -- something few dared to do. It was Taseer's unambiguous morality in his speaking out for the weak that captured imaginations of those neutral Pakistanis keen to see reason as a dominant force in their country.
Taseer was unique in life and stands virtually alone in death. The deafening silence among the pygmies that make up the rank-and-file of the Pakistani elite is the sound of fear and moral confusion.
The fear is genuine and real. More than the assassination itself, the mainstream reaction to Taseer's murder exposes the cancerous immunity to reason in Pakistan's Islamic discourse. Without expressing anything resembling blasphemy, educated and articulate Pakistanis chided Taseer, even in death, for writing his own death warrant. His crime? Asking for changes to the Pakistan Penal Code, whose blasphemy clauses have been regularly abused for social, political and economic gain
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