The Challenge of Religious Extremism in Pakistan

On June 27th, the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council hosted Sherhbano Taseer to discuss the growing threat of religious extremism in Pakistan. Ms.Taseer is the daughter of Salmaan Taseer, the late Governor of the Pakistani province of Punjab, who was assassinated in January 2011. Shuja Nawaz, South Asia Center director, moderated the discussion.

Ms. Taseer spoke of her father’s campaign against the use of the blasphemy law to persecute religious minorities, and his outspoken stance against religious extremism. She expressed concern over the Government of Pakistan’s inability to take action against institutionalized intolerance in madrassahs, and highlighted the fear moderate Pakistanis live under. She stated that “clerics are not teaching children how to live, but how to die!” She also voiced concern that “the State has given hate mongers a platform through madrassahs”, and emphasized the need to put international and internal pressure on the government to take action against religious violence.