Plenary speech on Pakistan, the murder of the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer

Marietje
Mr President, there is a fundamental struggle going on in Pakistan and the extremism that we have seen has to end, especially the abusive blasphemy laws. These are leading to a climate of fear and intolerance and, in the worst cases, extremism. The fight against extremism is not an easy task, which is why the Pakistani Government and all those citizens who agree that intolerance and extremism are unacceptable need our support. We have to continue to wipe out terrorism. The Governor, Mr Taseer, was violently murdered out of sheer intolerance by a guard from his own security detail, a person who should have protected him. His daughter, Shehrbano, wrote a letter which was published in The New York Times , from which I would like to quote, because I think she gets to the essence and it is very good to use her words in memory of her father. She says of the perpetrator: ‘Mr Qadri and his supporters may have felled a great oak that day, but they are sadly mistaken if they think they have succeeded in silencing my father’s voice or the voices of millions like him who believe in the secular vision of Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah’. She continues: ‘There are those who say my father’s death was the final nail in the coffin for a tolerant Pakistan. That Pakistan’s liberal voices will now be silenced. But we buried a heroic man, and not the courage he inspired in others’. Others followed in their condemnation of the blasphemy laws, even conservative politicians. We have to support that here in the European Parliament. The daughter of Governor Taseer went to Smith College and she studied European politics and human rights, but too many people in Pakistan are educated in madrasahs. We have to make sure that the young generation has opportunities, and learns how to live together in the diverse society which is Pakistan.