Whether tested on streets of business administration or in the world of politics, the beaming smile of Salmaan Taseer was always found at the top of the ladder. Only an exceptional man like him could bid farewell to his modest beginnings to head an expansive empire that was all self-made, and then make his name as a governor of Punjab. Nevertheless, the very grandeur and glory, with which he had made a lasting mark in national collective memory, did not serve him well in the dangerous streets of Pakistani society. Perhaps it was Taseer’s fearless resolve to not compromise on his ideals that made the Punjab governor a soft target of attack. Had he chosen a life of ordinary designs in lieu of emerging as a controversial figure in the conservative lands of Pakistan, fate might have traced for him an alternate, less tragic route. As a penalty inflicted on Taseer for showing compassion towards Aasia bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, he was shot 27 times by his own bodyguard in Islamabad six years ago.As is the case with most of the political elite, Taseer cannot be defined in terms of good or evil. The very ambition of making it big in the world, which is often highlighted by his critics, make him stand out among the rest. Not only did he strive towards making a future of his own, his investments and business endeavours significantly assisted in improving the economy of Pakistan, and in turn, of his countrymen, for whom he deeply cared. One of Taseer’s biggest achievements, however, was an everlasting rank in the hearts of his followers. The courage with which he stood up for a woman practising a religion other than the one followed by country’s majority exemplified his steadfastness to pursue only his own sense of right and wrong, not any given set of rules. Despite the prevailing political pressures at the time, he did not just stop at paying the devastated woman — accused of a heinous crime — a visit in her jail cell but kept trying to support her case, as she tried to get a state pardon. To the end of times, all discourse on the struggle for establishing human rights in the region shall remain incomplete without featuring the services Taseer had rendered to save a life he considered innocent. Taseer was born to a Kashmiri poet, MD Taseer, and an Englishwoman, Christabel George — later renamed Bilquees — in Simla, in the pre-partition Punjab. It must have been the provision of cultural enrichment, provided by both his father, and uncle, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, which established an undying kindle of love for all humanity as an eminent part of his personality, the very trait responsible for many important twists and turns his story took over the years. After graduating with a degree in accounting from a university in London, Taseer decided to move back to Pakistan, only to find himself falling in love with the ideology of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then prime minister. His close association with the Pakistan People’s Party was also reflected in a biography he had penned of Bhutto in 1980s. Even though the publication did give rise to many upheavals in his personal life, due to repeated imprisonments imposed by the then dictator General Zia-ul-Haq, it was well-received by critics across the world.After facing some setbacks in his political career in the early 1990s, Taseer chose to try his luck in the arena of business. The initiative was a huge success, making him a proud owner of a newspaper and a television channel among many other enterprises. However, one factor that remained a constant in his life was his intense loyalty to the basic principles of the Pakistan People’s Party, which made him return to politics in 2007. After serving as an interim minister in the cabinet of General Pervez Musharraf for a brief period of time, Taseer was appointed to the post of the governor of Punjab under the tenure of his party. During his years, he strived to achieve what his charismatic leader had sought for in his lifetime: a deeper connection with the masses. The Governor’s House is still known to be open to jiyalas(PPP loyalists) at all hours during his days. “I remember Bhutto saying the history is written in the blood of martyrs,” Taseer remarked while giving an interview in 2008, two years before his death. He did achieve his leader’s desire of adorning his homeland with his own blood. However, his untimely death caused an irreparable loss to not only his family but for all those who wish for a Pakistan free of bigotry and intolerance.