Agent Provocateur Tallat Azim Within days of the assassination of Salman Taseer, Punjabs Governor, by his own bodyguard in broad daylight, there was also news of a Congress woman, Gabrielle Gifford, being shot and critically wounded by a gunman in Tucson, Arizona, in the United States as she was conducting a 'Congress in your corner event at a Safeway super market. The gunman succeeded in killing six other innocent people in the mayhem. Incidents of such extreme lawlessness can happen anywhere, for whatever misconstrued reasons, even in established democracies like America where anger, hatred and bigotry can be found, just like anywhere else. What I want to comment on and compare is how the media and President Barack Obama reacted there to their news and how our media and our government reacted to our bad news. The difference could not have been starker. The tone and tenor of bringing any bad news to the viewers, by CNN for example, is so matter of fact and so absolutely devoid of any sensationalism. It informs rather than shocks and does not repeatedly show scenes that add to the sense of panic and insecurity that prevails in the circumstances. In a nationally televised press conference President Obama condemned the incident as an unspeakable tragedy. Nobody tried to justify what the gunman did or air any sound bytes from him so that the people learnt, even before the courts, what motivated him in his act. Both the perpetrators of these recent killings, in the US as well as here, are young men who were obsessive about what they believed in and had impassive faces when they were arrested. Both of them probably need psychiatric help along with a court trial. While condemnations for the violence poured in from both sides of the political arena in no uncertain terms in America, no two people even within the Governors own party took a clear stand on the reason for his murder. On the other hand, the media here actually aired opinions of those who thought that the murderer was within his rights to take the Governors life because, according to them, the Governor was asking for it. There was no single, organised response to the tragedy that happened here. The President, in constant fear of his own security, did not even come for the funeral prayers. The site of the funeral prayers was a complete disarray with visible pushing and shoving, as undisciplined as it can possibly get in our part of the world. No elected leadership took a stance around which the country could rally and find solace. Compare this to Obamas words that he spoke at the memorial service for the victims. I am here, as an American and like all Americans, to kneel and pray with you today and to stand by you tomorrow. The forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us. On the other hand, the organised whipping up of emotions by religio-political parties continues unabated and with one voice. This, despite the repeated assurances from the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister, the Law Minister as well as the Information Minister that they are not going to amend the law in question. There is a total vacuum of leadership who is trying to reach out to the people, explaining why the governor was targeted unnecessarily. The job of curbing fanaticism which has been nurtured in this society for so long and is now shared by so many simply seems too big for them. The media too is not providing enough opportunity to the enlightened religious scholars to share their studied opinions on the law in question and the possible prevention of its misuse. The space for dialogue is being snatched away and the ignorant minority wants to impose its interpretation of issues by force and through fear. This in a land famed for the human values and kindness of its numerous Sufi Saints who spread the message of Islam by peaceful means only and by personal examples. No amount of candle-lit vigils by ordinary citizens and non-government organisations can effect a change in mindset without political leaders making it their cause and leading from the front. Postscript: The difference in what is expected from those whom we elect and how they actually behave in real life is also one for the story books. It has come to light that members of parliament in the biggest province of the country like playing hooky. Much like school kids they have been in the habit of having themselves marked present in the register placed outside the assembly hall while being present in altogether other places After all, I am sure they expect us to understand that the parliamentary proceedings can be ever so boring day in and day out and what does an occasional bunk matter except for the fact, as the report further reveals, the bunking is more than just occasional, it is, in fact, the norm. Another funny part was that an MPA, with a name like Laila Muqaddus, (Muqaddas means pure and respectable) was among the leading lights of the bunkers The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com