22 August, 2014 / Shawwal 25, 1435

People lit candles to pay homage to late Salman Taseer at Liberty Chowk in Lahore. —APP

LAHORE: Rab Nawaz, a law graduate, attended a vigil held at Liberty Chowk on Wednesday in memory of Salmaan Taseer on the first anniversary of his assassination only after coming to know that religious parties were holding a rally in favour of Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed assassin of the former governor. “When I read in today’s newspaper that some religious parties are going to observe Salmaan Taseer’s death anniversary by holding a rally in favour of Qadri it made me sad, rather forced me to come here to show people the other face of my country,” he told Dawn at the vigil where members of the Taseer family were also present.

Taseer was gunned down in Islamabad on Jan 4 last year by his police guard Qadri who told investigators that he had killed the Punjab governor because he had criticised blasphemy laws.

Nawaz said the murder had shown one face of the country and “now it is our responsibility to promote tolerance in society”.

ACCA student Sabir Arif regretted that the PPP government was not ‘owning’ Mr Taseer because of fear of backlash from extremists. “Taseer was a champion of human rights. We need to tell the people that he was misunderstood on blasphemy laws and he had great love for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” Arif said.

At the insistence of the participants of the vigil, Taseer’s son Shaheryar spoke a few words and said his father’s stance was correct and “we stand by it”.

“A year has passed by but we are still feeling the pain of his death,” he said and vowed to continue the mission of his father.

The participants raised slogans paying tribute to the courage and steadfastness of Taseer and his family.

On the other hand, a good number of people attended a march from the Press Club to Data Darbar organised in favour of Qadri. Speakers praised the assassin and demanded his release.

Neither he PPP nor Taseer’s successor Latif Khosa organised any event in the city to pay tribute to the late leader.

However, a number of PPP workers and office-bearers, including Imtiaz Safdar Warriach, Raja Riaz, Malik Hafeez, Rai Muzamil and Dr Fakhruddin, visited Taseer’s grave and offered fateha.

Dr Fakhruddin said Taseer had raised voice for the rights of minorities and the PPP would continue to pursue his mission. He said Taseer would be long remembered for his sacrifice.

Supporters of the All Pakistan Minorities’ Alliance observed a two-minute silence outside the Press Club to remember Taseer, held a vigil and paid tribute to him.

Meanwhile, police are yet to make any progress in rescuing Shahbaz Taseer, son of Salmaan Taseer, who was kidnapped in August last year. Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that Shahbaz is being held near the Afghan border.

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