By Sonya Rehman
I was at work, going through my Twitter feed when I found out about Shahbaz Taseer’s abduction from his work place in Lahore. Full details may be found on the DAWN website here.
I’ve been jittery and anxiety-ridden ever since. Everyone I know is in complete shock and just as pained. I can’t stop thinking about Shahbaz’s mother and his siblings. It’s extremely painful to think what the family must be going through right now. The Taseers do not deserve this.
This year, Shahbaz’s father, the Governor of Punjab (Salmaan Taseer), was killed in Islamabad by his body guard – Mumtaz Qadri. Justice is yet to be served. Qadri to date, is still sitting pretty in jail.
There is much speculation about who the kidnappers are, and the motive behind Shahbaz’s kidnapping.
Currently, it is being stated that Shahbaz is apparently still in Lahore. The trail is still hot, yet I’m worried about the incompetency of our police force. I am worried that corruption and deviousness will culminate in Shahbaz never returning to his family.
I met Shahbaz when I was 17. I think he was a year or two younger than I was. We did a play together called ‘Writer’s Block,’ which was held in Lahore, and which did pretty well for a private production – put up by a bunch of goofy teenagers.
The rehearsals, held at my house practically every day, were spent messing up our lines, laughing over the silliest of things, and just being complete goofs.
I don’t think I ever laughed as much with anyone as I did with Shahbaz. He was this chubby, fair guy, with wavy hair and this mad sense of humour. A complete pathakha. I’ll never forget how the audience roared with laughter when Shahbaz uttered his lines on stage: he was such a great comedian, such a wonderful performer.
And then, when BBC Urdu did a small interview with him soon after Shahbaz’s father had been assassinated, I couldn’t help but marvel at Shahbaz’s maturity and his poise during the interview.
I saw it again this week, and it left me feeling very lost. I feel so unsettled and estranged in Lahore. I’ve been so defensive about Pakistan, so sure and hopeful that yes, perhaps, things can change around, perhaps there is still some goodness left in this country, some light. But I’m not sure anymore.
I do wonder if this is the beginning of the end – what with countless being slain in Karachi on a daily basis, the economic condition, the strife – day after day after bloody day.
There is just too much blood on the streets of Pakistan. Innocent blood. The cries of mothers for their children is deafening. How can we ever recover, how can we ever feel whole again?
Shahbaz, we’re praying for you. We’re praying the abduction was carried out solely for ransom. We pray that you are returned, unharmed, to your family – and most importantly – to the loving, outstretched arms of your mother.