BBC Radio Docudrama Explores the Murder of Salmaan Taseer

BBC Radio 4 yesterday broadcast a docudrama in its Saturday Drama strand about the murder of Salmaan Taseer, entitled “Blasphemy and the Governor of Punjab”. It is available to listen to for the next week here.

The dramatization is punctuated by interviews with Taseer’s family (his widow Aamna Taseer, youngest daughter Shehrbano Taseer, youngest son Shehryar Taseer, and brother-in-law Ehsan ul Haq) and Shahnaz Wazir Ali (Special Assistant to Prime Minister), as well as commentary from Tariq Ali (who went to school with Taseer), the writer Ahmed Rashid, and the journalist Omar Waraich. There are also short quotes from the killer Mumtaz Qadri’s elder brother and father, approving the murder, as well as a (pre-recorded, by the sound of it) sanguinary statement by one of Qadri’s lawyers.

A significant role in the drama is given to Meher Bokhari, a prime-time news anchor who was formerly one of Aamna’s pupils. Taseer agreed to give Bokhari an interview following a request based on their personal connections; however, she took an unexpectedly hostile approach, stressing his links with the west and making reference to a fatwa issued against him by an obscure group of Ulama. Shehrbano Taseer claims that Bokhari, who is of secular appearance, has used Islam to “reinvent herself” since photos were published showing her at a party, and it is clear that the family has bitter feelings about her. The play includes Bokhari being ejected from Taseer’s funeral; she soon afterwards hosted a discussion programme asking whether Qadri should be regarded as a killer or a hero.

The story ends with the August 2011 kidnap of Taseer’s son Shahbaz Taseer; he remains a prisoner of militants. And Asia Bibi, meanwhile, continues to have a death sentence hanging over her.

Ahmed Rashid was at Salmaan Taseer’s funeral; he recalls in the programme that:

We expected to see the army chief himself, the president – after all, Salaam was governor of Punjab province, the governor is the representative of the president, and you expect the army, and the navy,  the air force, and all the top bureaucrats and the top politicians to come and pay their respects. And absolutely nobody came… Salaam in his death had literally been abandoned by the state.

No wonder that we now see the ascendancy of creatures such as Rao Abdur Raheem.

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