Shehrbano Taseer in New York, Takes up Cause of Slain Father
New York: The daughter of the slain governor of Punjab refuses to be cowed by extremism and is taking up the cause that killed her father.
“I think I have an important story to tell: my father was assassinated in Pakistan six months ago because of his opposition to the misuse of blasphemy law,” 22-year-old Shehrbano Taseer told AFP in New York.
Salman Taseer was killed on January 4 outside an Islamabad coffee shop by a bodyguard, who opposed his criticism of a blasphemy law. “I’m here to tell my story, to tell what happens and why it happens, to inform the public and maybe prevent new cases in the future,” Shehrbano told AFP in an interview at a Manhattan hotel.
Like her father, Shehrbano uses the social networking site Twitter and public appearances to speak out boldly against the misuse of law, and she vows not to back down despite threats to her life from fanatics.
Shehrbano, who graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts and is now a journalist based in Lahore, told AFP that Pakistan had reached a critical juncture and must choose between extremism or moderation.
“We are at a difficult point in our history,” she said, condemning “religious extremism” and the “cancer of terrorism.”
“Right now it’s difficult because as Pakistanis we are very much watching what is happening to our country and we feel very helpless about how to be a part of the solution.”
Shehrbano said some progressive-minded politicians like her father were attempting to drive the moderate cause forward but admitted there was a long way to go.
“I don’t think there is any solution possible in Pakistan in the short-term,” she said. “We don’t need any more blame.”
Shehrbano’s trip to spread awareness about Pakistan’s blasphemy law takes her also to London and Washington. Looking ahead, she expressed reluctance to follow her father into politics.
“There is a lot of red tape, and it’s inefficient and slow to bring change,” she said.