The recent acquittal of Asia Bibi was a great victory not only for minorities but for the whole country. After spending more than a decade in solitary confinement Asia Bibi’s freedom is akin to the freedom to hope for a better future in this desolate country Pakistan has faced turbulent and trying times from its inception. An ‘us vs them’ religious narrative has always been prevalent in our country to validate our separate existence from India as a nation. Overtime this narrative has been exploited by right wing parties and extremist factions present to safeguard their own interests in the name of religion. Even though Salmaan Taseer is gone, he lives on in every voice that stands up to the darkness trying to extinguish the beautiful plurality of our country. History shall always remember him as the beacon of hope for the marginalized The murder of Salmaan Taseer, the then serving Governor of Punjab, was a result of this tightening vise of the far-right to suppress sane inclusive voices speaking out for the most disadvantaged sections of the society. His only crime was to speak up for an underprivileged Christian woman who had been accused of committing blasphemy, for which he was gunned down in cold blood by the very man whose job was to protect him. Everyone including the government ran for cover; not willing to incite the small group of bloody thirsty individuals who so adeptly wield religion to cut down any dissenting narratives. For them to even question these man made laws (i.e. blasphemy laws) is tantamount to branding yourself as a blasphemer. Thus, in their zeal they tarnish the very religion, they seek so hard to protect. A religion which has always accorded due respect and rights to the minorities. As 4th January looms ahead, we once again revisit the sacrifice of the man who bravely stood up for minority rights. The cruel history of Pakistan has unfortunately very few examples of such figures who stood their ground despite threats. And Salmaan Taseer was one of them. The assassination was not only a tragedy for the Taseer family but for the whole of Pakistan. A brave voice was silenced that day, making the world a bit darker. In an Islamic country, it is hard to even question man made religious laws. Eight years, and still the debate around the blasphemy law continues. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the law has lost its sanctity and is just being used as a weapon to implicate any dissenters and to target minorities. An estimated number of 1,274 people have been charged under the blasphemy law of Pakistan between 1986, from when they were included in the Constitution by General Zia ul Haq, until 2010. And 51 people who were accused of blasphemy were murdered before their respective trials were over. However, the recent acquittal of Asia Bibi was a great victory not only for minorities but for the whole country. After spending more than a decade in solitary confinement Asia Bibi’s freedom is akin to the freedom to hope for a better future in this desolate country. Time and again, International forums have advocated for the amendment of the stringent blasphemy laws. In the present political landscape this seems like a longshot but to survive as a progressive nation, where all our citizenry is safe from prejudice and hate, we must strive to come up with a viable solution to avoid the misuse/abuse of the blasphemy laws. Thus, to honour the sacrifice of the slain governor, the lawmakers need to revise the law, so that more innocent lives are not lost to hate and intolerance. Even though Salmaan Taseer is gone, he lives on in every voice that stands up to the darkness trying to extinguish the beautiful plurality of our country. History shall always remember him as the beacon of hope for the marginalized. Published in Daily Times, January 4th 2019.