Shehrbano Taseer, the daughter of murdered Pakistan's Punjab governor Salman Taseer, says she is determined to continue his campaign against the misuse of Pakistan's blasphemy law. I recently spoke to her for RFE/RL. Here is the full interview.
Is your family satisfied with judiciary/court procedures that are taking place in the case of your father's killing?
We are confident that Qadri [Mumtaz Qadri, who is accused of killing
Salman Taseer] will be punished for what he did. The state has
intentionally kept the case out of the media, and we would respect
everyone's compliance with this.
How do you cope with the loss of your father? Especially you
live in the same country and to be more specific in the same province
where the killer and his supporters celebrated the murder?
We try to take it one day at a time. For everyone else it was the
Governor of Punjab and their leader and hero, but for me it was my
father. It has been very difficult. It was sickening to watch the lawyers garland Qadri because these men
are supposed to be the vanguards of justice in Pakistan and it makes
one wonder just how independent our judiciary really is.
Did your father ever talk about the religious minorities and the problems they face?
All the time. He was the only politician who visited the Ahmedis when
they were attacked in May 2010, and the Christians in the Gojra attacks
Don't you think he should have taken more precautions by taking security
measures or choosing his words carefully while talking about such
I think that's a very apologist route. We live in a democracy and
there is free speech. My father had a lot of security. He had 17 guards
on him the day this happened -- how much more can he tighten his
security? It was his own guard who killed him, not some random assailant
on a motorbike. He was very careful with his words. He repeatedly said that his
standing up for Aasia Bibi was about humanity not religion. He spoke
about the misuse of blasphemy law.
Just like your father, you have also been talking against the
blasphemy laws openly. Does thinking about your father's killing scare
Never. My father did not die so that I could live my life with my
head down and thoughts chained up. I will continue to speak up and write
and carry his work forward.
Has government given your family any protection?
Yes. (For security reasons she will not give any details.)
Looking at Pakistan, it seems to be getting more and more
extreme with each day passes. Do you think any change is possible to
It's true. There is an increase in radicalization in Pakistan. It's
dangerous because we do not know the enemy anymore -- he could be
anywhere. It's a mindset we are dealing with and that is very tough. The
mindset is a direct result of the Madrassas (religious schools) in
Pakistan that spew venom and hatred left right and center. We can thank
the Saudis for that.
I hope that one day this law is not misused anymore. Many countries
all over the world have these laws in tact; the difference is the
conviction rates. That must change immediately.