No going back

Despite the good life in London, friends, schools, job security, Moni Mohsin longs to go back to Pakistan. Can she, she wonders in The Guardian

Moni Mohsin with her mother in the late '60s

Earlier this year, while in Pakistan, I visited my village where I share a house with my sister. Built nearly 300 years ago by an ancestor, it’s a traditional courtyard house with fountains, frescoes and wooden balconies. It’s also next door to a mosque mounted with powerful loudspeakers. Since we were staying the night, I sent a polite request to the mosque’s imam. Would he, just this once, just for the dawn prayer, in line with age-old tradition, call the faithful to prayer in his own voice, instead of using the loudspeaker? He obliged. Two days later someone sent an anonymous note to the house. Before you make any such demands again, it read, remember what happened to Salman Taseer.

Taseer, governor of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, was assassinated in January by a fanatical member of his own security guard for proposing a review of Pakistan’s contentious blasphemy laws. Taseer was a flamboyant figure who made no secret of his liberal views and lifestyle. Ecstatic lawyers showered his murderer with rose petals and mullahs led thousands in street demonstrations in support of the blasphemy law. Some Pakistanis who live in the west and enjoy every one of its hard-won liberties, set up Facebook pages lauding Taseer’s murderer as a hero. Middle-class kids, who salivate over Angelina Jolie and dream of a green card, condoned the murder of “an immoral, westernised liberal”. Taseer’s murder and its aftermath marked a turning point in my relationship with my homeland. more

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