Shehrbano Taseer: Hatred that killed my father hurts all Pakistan


Shehrbano TaseerFive months ago, my father Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his security guard Mumtaz Qadri for opposing misuse of Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws. During the investigation, we were shown a video that made my blood freeze. In a tiny madrassa in Rawalpindi, the chief cleric of a little known Sunni religious group, Shabab-e-Islami, was frothing at the mouth, screeching to 150 swaying men inciting them to kill my father, “the blasphemer”.

Qadri was in the audience, nodding and listening intently. A few days later, on January 4, he casually strolled up behind my father and shot him 27 times. As was reported this week, the blasphemy laws are still being used to persecute Christians, while Qadri, who has still not stood trial, is treated as a hero.

How did it come to this? In the 1979 Soviet-Afghan war, the intelligence agencies of the US, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia joined together to fight a covert operation against the Soviet Union. The US offered huge amounts of aid as Pakistan became a conduit for assistance to the Mujahidin. About 20,000 to 30,000 fighters from 20 Muslim countries joined the battle, including Osama bin Laden. In local madrassas they were taught to hate and kill, and indoctrinated with extremist Wahhabi ideology. We thought the nightmare would end when Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989. But it’s thriving and has come back to haunt us.

Madrassas are still the breeding ground of Islamic radicalism. More than 15,000 have mushroomed all over the country and 80 per cent teach militant Islam. Clerics can preach whatever they please, and are raising a generation of children to be merchants of hatred, who believe that their only contribution to Islam is jihad and that the only way to achieve it is violence.

Not all madrassas are evil. My grandfather was educated in one and he was a poet, the first South Asian to receive a doctorate in literature from Cambridge. But nowadays rabid clerics hijack the minds of young children, denying them contact with the outside world and teaching them to be bitterly antagonistic to non-Muslims and other sects of Islam alike.

A boy of 8 or 9 in a madrassa will not know much about history, maths or science but will know how to fire a Kalashnikov and strap on a suicide bomb vest. These children are being trained not how to live, but how to die. My father’s murder is the perfect example of the hatred and violence spewed daily to children who go out into the world deluded in this warped piety where murder and violence are legitimised in the name of Islam.

The weak Pakistani Government appeases extremist demands and allows these hate-mongers a platform. The ruthless military and intelligence agencies play a double game, dividing terrorists into good and bad, funding and arming those deemed “good”.

But Pakistan too is a victim of the ideology. We have lost an estimated 3,000 soldiers and 35,000 civilians in the War on Terror. Our mosques and market places are bombed every month. Police and military bases and training academies are attacked weekly. As a people, we are exhausted with the bombings, violence and assassinations. We are suffering because of an extremist ideology exported from Saudi Arabia.

The role of wealthy Saudi families in funding al-Qaeda and other terrorists has been kept in the background. But according to a US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, $100 million a year makes its way from Saudi Arabia and the UAE to extremist recruitment networks in Punjab. Given Saudi Arabia’s importance as an oil producer, the presence of Saudi financial support is, perhaps, a big complication for the UK and US anti-terror effort. But it has reached the point of passive sponsorship.

An international effort to cut off the financial tentacles of the Islamist terrorist apparatus is needed urgently. No other family should have to suffer what mine have had to. No other nation should lose its brave heart because of this madness in the name of religion.

The writer, the daughter of the assassinated governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, is a journalist with Newsweek Pakistan. This piece was originally published in The Times (UK).





  1. Shehrbano Taseer is writing and speaking about this issue everywhere. She’s a very brave girl and I hope that her readers will follow her and talk about these issues among friends and family. The Saudi Arabia and UAE funds have to stop … or be put to better use. Use your influence and make sure things change. There is still some hope. Don’t let the country go the way its going much before its too late to back off.

  2. Good to see people like u all are remained there,last hope for Pakistan. Situation got grave in almost 35 to 40 years of brainwashing after Jiya-ul Haque, and seems bigotry has engulfed a whole new generation. An enormous effort is needed now to revert and of course by someone Pakistani and would take atleast 70 to 80 years. Full support from me.

  3. a very nice article shehrbano, keep awaring people about the real situation, keep it up.

  4. Well written and totally agreed. Madrassas in Pakistan or Bangladesh or other countries funded by Saudi is nothing more than factories to churn out brainwashed soldiers to defend wahabi doctrine and Saudi hegemony over Islam. Wahabism is a curse on Islam. These so called ‘soldiers of God’ is their ‘strategic depth’.

  5. Salaam
    You may not know me but i follow you on twitter and randomly surfing i came across one of your picture on twitpic, my apologies for poking in but came across a picture of yours when you were a baby sleeping on your father’s chest
    my feelings were shackled and heart numb with shivering fingers i could only smile – that picture is not just about a father’s love for her daughter but father’s love for her LAADLI daughter so i can imagine sherbano what thorny bed have you been laid upon by the megalomaniac face of those who consider themselves muslims but are actually working day and on on making us a laughing stock in front of the world. your father is a martyr and he lives amongst us – the beauty about this article is, you still choose to live in pakistan & this risk of patriotism is priceless, at least if not the rest who dont know you but for me you stand an epitome of chivalrous ideology! i wish i could ask you to share the pain of losing your father upon my shoulder for the time I and your dad see you the way we have always wanted to, standing against the injustice –
    Just one request, not just saudi but even CIA/RAW insurgencies in pakistan can not be denied especially when headley himself has confessed in an independent tribunal in USA, that pakistan is not involved in 26/11

  6. . . . all of our supports are with you & with your family in your mission . . . May Allah give you success in completing your mission(AMEEN) . . .
    TaKe VeRy BeSt CaRe Of YoUrSeLf . . . &
    s T a Y b L e S s E d . . .

  7. her father sulman taseer had moderate minded person now sheharbano is following on her father path and she wanted to become a moderate mind because she have no knowledge about Islamic law

    liaquat from Islamabad

  8. Shehrbano, indeed a comprehensive view, a few analysis also suggest that it is not only the few madarassahs that promote militant outlook rather hate provocative material in school text books and curriculum that fosters narrowed world views and shrinks the space for critical thinking.

  9. Liaquat, do you mean to say all moderate minded people have no knowledge of Islam? Shehrbanoo, is an extremely well educated young lady, and one does not become moderate because of lack of knowledge about their religion, on the contrary, Islam is a moderate, liberal religion. I suggest you read the Quran in it’s true spirit and interpretation, and hopefully you will join the million’s , who do not follow the ignorant version of our great religion.

  10. The man and his coterie who sowed the seeds of discontent
    and injected the venom that runs through our veins,passed
    to our generations lies in glory at the foot of the Faisal
    Mosque? Surprisingly the Islamic scholars of Pakistan have
    not bestowed the honor of sainthood upon him!Our honorable
    bigots are too intellectual to understand Allama Iqbal;
    ‘People who have no hold over their process of thinking are likely to be ruined by liberty of thought.If thought is immature,liberty of thought becomes a method of converting men into animals.’

  11. Well Bano Je,
    Why not take a look from some other angle, we can understand the grief you are suffering from and you are doing great to find out the facts. I just feel to contribute here that Soviet Afghan war was simply between Capitalism & Communism. We Muslims were just utilized. Who was the actual party behind the scene???? OSamaa is a production of American CIAA, he was their agent. Who is behind the oil of Saudi??? Saudi, Paki, Afghani they have no technology no resources no system. We are continuously being utilized by them. Having all resouces and huge precious reserves here in Pakistan we are still awaiting the alms from America and for that alms (khairat) we have lost our independency. For Soviet Americans bring the Jihadi material so responsible is the root. isn’t it???? our Government using all resources 4 America war and we are loosing our industry, production, morals and worth… Utilizing the resources for nation development , progressive infrastructure development but here what we are developing for our next generation???? Horrible fact is that we do not dig into the past for the right facts and new generation have no such sensibility. Madrasas video some time can be programmed by another party to put you on some direction as per their needs. Madrasas are for spreading the essence of Islam and Islam is purily the religion of humanity, respect, love and brotherhood. No violance. But we must admit the fact when basics of our emotional nation regarding religion is disturbed than there could be some feed back in return as in the case of your father. Extrimist building literature & thoughts are yet in our nation and its again linked with the actual terrorist who propegate and brought such things here and we must think who is behind it and every person who use his mind a bit can easily find out the truth just by digging into past.

  12. Assalamo Alaikum.

    We understand the grief you are suffering from. But the real thing is that If a governer person of an Ideological Country makes statements like your father being a muslim name. What you will think the action of a Muslim? Where he sacrifice 5000000 lives on the that Name in 1947.

    The moment we think about really concerning thing we will on peace..

  13. This was a very sad thing and this must stop..but there seems to be no letup on this cruelty..Pakistan has been sold and we will have to bear the blunt because of the uncouth rulers who only think of themselves and not the citizens of Pakistan. Salman Taseer was a wonderful person and did not neded to meet such an end..yet the person who killed him has been considered a this justice?? only Allah will be able to punish all those involved as no justice is being done. I salute the brave daughter.. God bless her and the family who have to bear this loss. …lots more to say but this is enough.

  14. we have to need stopped the way from these battered got funded first and please keep trying to told the world about the issue.we are all with you and every one for the cause.God bless you.

  15. My heart bleeds for all the same reasons that Pakistan’s heart bleeds for. If we don’t recognize the disease within, that has gone malignant, we’re doomed!

  16. Not a very good person by nature; but died for a VERY GREAT cause. Irony oR something else. Sorry to a daughter.



  18. All her followers plz tell me 1 thing what is written in Quran and Ahadees has no importance? what salman taseer says is more important than it? the laws which is written in Quran and Ahadees cannot be changed. Salman taseer try to break the Islamic law thas why he was assasinated. i beg u all to plz read Quran and Ahadees than talk about this matter.

  19. this is so unfair. every one here should be able to express their point of views. the messages i wrote were rejected approval for posting.

    • @naina What messages have not been approved? I looked and could not find any other messages from you.

  20. I was very upset when news broke of the Governor’s assassination.

    But one must keep in mind that if Salman Taseer had proposed an alternative solution that was Islamic (or what he perceived to be the correct interpretation of Islam when it comes to blasphemy laws) then public sentiment from people like Qadri would have been different.

    Instead, he launched a tirade against Islamic practices in general and promoted a secular agenda that marginalizes religion. This gave the impression that he was waving the banner of religion under a hypocritical agenda. To revise Islamic practices in order to maintain their integrity is one thing, but to secretly work against legitimate Islamic law under the guise of justice, are the hallmarks of a larger hidden agenda.

    Extremism comes in different forms and is not relegated entirely to men with beards.

    • @Zeeshan When did Salmaan Taseer “launch a tirade against Islamic practices”? When did he “secretly work against legitimate Islamic law”? Please show any proofs of this. Otherwise I believe you have invented these accusations from thin air. Salmaan Taseer simply protested that a MAN MADE LAW that was not even in the law books until the 1980’s is being GROSSLY ABUSED to target INNOCENT PEOPLE. Actually it is this misuse of religion as a weapon that is un-Islamic. Shaheed Taseer never once criticised Islam or Prophet Muhammad (SAW) or any religion. Please be honest and do not spread such misinformation.

  21. I believe that the people who claim that Salman Taseer was speaking against Islamic laws is absolutely ridiculous. He was urging that laws set in the name of religion should not be used in an unjust manner. If we cannot identify clearly what the man was trying to say as some of the comments to this article reflect, then we should not think that we have the right to comment without a full understanding. There are also other disgusting truths about madrassas, such as child rape that happens with in its walls. Have we even bothered to consider that to be against islam?

  22. Fully agree with S. Taseer. Pakistan should not be the battleground for Saudia’s imported set of beliefs. Hate mongers must be eliminated at any cost. Salman Taseer was an intelligent and brave person who talked about minorities. Our record of treating minorities is not good.

    • It is good to see people like you are still there who think about the minorities. May God bless you. -From an Indian

  23. im sure my message will not be posted =) which is sad, everyone should be able to express their opinions on this topic

    • Zohaib, your message will not be posted because you have posted a violent threat, not an opinion. I will consider whether to report your name and IP address to the authorities. Also I will note here that I see you are posting from a computer in UAE. The last thing we need is wanna-be terrorists from the Gulf making threats here. Do yourself a favour and grow up.

  24. ooh my god salman taseer was well knone to every one in pak and you or every one can not use any word against prophet,

    • @Ali Hyder Magsi Salmaan Taseer never said one word against the prophet (pbuh). If you can find one single quote, please provide it. Otherwise think about how you are making such false accusations.

Comments are closed.