It isn’t often that one wakes up in Pakistan to good news. Contrary to expectations, today, February 29, was such a day. For the first time in many many years the Government of Pakistan showed some resolve and the murderer Mumtaz Qadri was hanged. Salmaan Taseer got justice.
This is a good precedent; not because I want to extol the virtues of hanging people to death. Those of us trying to live our lives with rationality and belief in human rights and liberty know that hangings by the state are not a solution. However, we also know that for the moment, this is the punishment for the crime of murder and it would have set a very disastrous precedent if the man had not been punished for his crime.
The last few weeks have shown that small, but sure, steps are being taken to make Pakistan more progressive, more liberal and more respectful of human rights. Often there are hiccups that take us back a few steps but overall one can see that there are determined steps being taken in the right direction.
Today Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy also won her second Oscar for her movie The Girl in the River on honour killings. Many of us celebrate her today for this amazing honour. Her achievement, however, is not just the Oscar. The Prime Minister, Mr. Nawaz Sharif had the movie screened at the PM Secretariat and has promised to take steps to rectify the law that allows the murderers of so called “honour” killings go free. New legislation on this is desperately needed and he has promised to give us that.
Today the bill tabled in Punjab Parliament on Violence Against Women was made into law as well after the Governor signed it. The bill had been put forward and passed a couple of weeks ago, and this too has rattled the mullah mindset in this country. The Sindh Parliament had already passed a similar bill some time ago. Here’s to hoping the other provinces will do the same.
I, for one, want to take a step back and appreciate these little moments of progress that we are seeing. And I want to acknowledge the government that is behind them. From attending Diwali festivals to punishing murder in the name of religion to working on protecting women from violence, the PM has shown that he may have more resolve to take us in the right direction than any enlightened dictator or so called secular parties have done before.
Perhaps Mr. Sharif has moved on from his right-wing conservative days and I want to appreciate that. Pakistan needs leaders who make such moves for us to be able to get rid of the demons we have fed for so long. These are great steps that will only put us on the right track. They may not seem to be a lot in the face of all that we have to deal with and there may still be issues we have with the government, but they give us hope.
And if this continues, if Mr. Sharif continues to show such determination and authoritative resolve in the face of the entrenched culture of Islamism and hyper-nationalism this country has, then here is what I have to say to him:
Thank you, Prime Minister. Keep showing such resolve and keep moving in this direction. Today you got my vote.