The governor of Pakistan’s wealthiest and most populous province was shot dead in the capital Tuesday by one of his own guards, who later told interrogators that he was angry about the politician’s stance against the country’s blasphemy law, officials said.
The killing of Punjab province Governor Salman Taseer was the most high-profile assassination of a political figure in Pakistan since former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007, and it rattled a country already dealing with crises ranging from a potential collapse of the government to a virulent Islamist insurgency.
The killing could also add to concerns about inroads by Islamist extremists and fundamentalists into Pakistan’s security establishment and represented another blow to the country’s Pakistan’s embattled secular movement.
Taseer was a member of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party and a close associate of the president. The governor was vocal on a range of subjects, even using Twitter to get across his views.
Punjab is a major base and recruiting ground for Pakistan’s powerful military and security establishment, which many fear is coming under the increasing influence of religious fundamentalists as Islamist movements have spread in Pakistan. Some analysts have suggested that fundamentalist members of the security establishment pose a greater threat of Pakistan nuclear proliferation than militant groups such as the Taliban.
In recent days, as the People’s Party has faced the loss of its coalition partners, the 56-year-old Taseer had insisted that the government will survive. But it was his very public stance against the blasphemy law that apparently led to his killing.
Pakistan’s blasphemy law has come under greater scrutiny in recent weeks after a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death for allegedly insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The law effectively orders death for anyone convicted of insulting Islam.
Taseer had said Bibi should be granted a pardon, a stance that earned him opprobrium from Islamist groups across the country as well as threats, according to Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for minorities.
“I was under huge pressure sure 2 cow down b4 rightest pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I’m the last man standing,” Taseer wrote on Twitter on Dec. 31.
Source : huffingtonpost.com