|Sara Taseer (rear) with her late father Salmaan Taseer (right). Pic by Sara.|
I have become a fan of sorts of assassinated Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s two daughters – Sara and Shehrbano.
I enjoyed reading Salmaan Taseer’s well-composed and tongue-in-cheek tweets and that was my window to the man who liked swimming against the tide; but in his death I have learnt more about him than in his life - thanks to Sara and Shehrbano.
I often spotted Sara, Salman’s jewellery designer daughter on Twitter, and on one occasion when she tweeted “wish me luck” - I did - and was surprised with her quick “thank you!”
I knew little of Shehrbano, Salmaan’s journalist daughter, till I read this tweet “a light has gone out in our home today”, a day or two after 27 bullets were pumped into Salmaan Taseer by his own security guard for opposing the blasphemy law of Pakistan.
“Thank you to each and every single person who sent messages of condolence. This is more than just a personal loss; it is a great loss for Pakistan,” Shehrbano tweeted.
Days later, I saw her on NDTV with Barkha Dutt. Shehrbano made an impact and held her own, making Barkha seem very repetitive and silly. Sara, too, was very articulate and composed in her interviews, emphatically putting forth her father’s point of view on the blasphemy law.
I have been hooked to the girls’ tweets ever since, going back and forth often, their pain always hitting me with the same intensity.
“Today I wait for the morning knock on my door saying sahib is calling you. I'm in bed still. No one calls,” tweeted Sara, who loved having “nihari” with father on Sunday mornings when she was in Lahore.
“He runs in my veins, in my blood, my genetic memory & DNA. I can never lose him," read another tweet by Sara.
I always remember a line from an Op-Ed piece Shehrbano wrote for the New York Times - “we buried a heroic man, not the courage he inspired in others” - when I see the girls posting their father’s favourite quotes, “…who will guard the guards?” and “you live life once, you live it by your principles and you live it courageously- that’s what it's about", or crusading against their father’s murderer’s supporters who showered rose petals on the killer.
A couple of days ago, Sara tweeted that she was sent a poster of her father’s murderer. “Was sent poster of murderer Q declaring the 26-year-old ‘the Prophet's policeman’. Hmmm...Could the Prophet (PBUH) really trust this man?” she posted, even though the girls have been getting their share of threats for speaking out.
In another one Sara wrote: “Sometimes pple say such sick things. I wonder if they ever learnt anything. Parents school society any input of civility?”
Of course, I am not the only one who is a fan of the girls. Their list of followers has swelled in the past month or so. Almost all of Pakistan’s Twitterati have been one with them in their sorrow, except perhaps Fatima Bhutto, the author-journalist niece of slain former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto, whose own father was ironically shot dead when she was in her teens.
On January 4, when everyone expressed shock at Salmaan’s brutal killing, Fatima posted: “2,043 Pakistanis, mainly civilians, killed by drone attacks in the last 5 years. 2010 deadliest year according to Conflict Monitoring Centre.”
Move on Fatima Bhutto. And three cheers for the Taseer girls!