Bodyguard assassinates Pakistani governor for opposition to blasphemy law

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province and a senior politician in the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, was assassinated today by his bodyguard. Reports indicate that Taseer was assassinated for his opposition to Pakistan’s repressive blasphemy laws, which target non-Muslims for perceived slights to Islam. From Dawn:

Interior Minister Rahman Malik told reporters that the suspect in the case had surrendered to police and told them he killed Taseer because “the governor described the blasphemy laws as a black law.”

Taseer was believed to be meeting someone for a meal, Malik said. Other members of his security detail were being questioned, Malik said.

The security for Taseer was provided by the Punjab government.

“We will see whether it was an individual act or someone had asked him” to do it, Malik said of the attacker.

Reuters reports that Taseer was killed near the edge of a shopping center “which is popular among foreigners in Islamabad,” and that his assassin bodyguard immediately surrendered:

A witness at the scene said Taseer was stepping out of his car at a shopping area when he was shot.

“The governor fell down and the man who fired at him threw down his gun and raised both hands,” said the witness, Ali Imran.

The shooting left blood stains on a parking area on the edge of the Kohsar shopping center, which is popular among foreigners in Islamabad.

The assassination by Taseer’s bodyguard appears to have been timed to achieve maximum shock value; the choice of the location of the killing (perhaps to get some foreign witnesses) coupled with his surrender and immediate statement seem to support this.

Taseer’s assassination takes place as Pakistan is experiencing political chaos. Two political parties have left the PPP’s ruling coalition government, making the PPP a minority government easily blackmailed with the threats of a no contest vote and new elections. Political violence and assassinations between the MQM and the ANP continue in Karachi on a daily basis. The government is embattled over plans to raise taxes and deal with internally displaced people who have fled military operations against the Taliban and last year’s devastating floods. In addition, the government is under US and international pressure to tackle the Taliban and the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan. Meanwhile, the Pakistani military, the real power in Pakistan, has resisted such pressures.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Spooky says:

    Sad to see a reformer bite the bullet. I do wonder if it really was because of his opposition to the law (entirely possible and likely of course) or if the PMLN wanted him out of the way. This is way too convenient to happen now at a time when the PPP is hurting.

  • Charu says:

    As ye sow ye shall reap.

  • paul says:

    The mindset of these Intolerant people in Pakistan saddens me.
    In an ideal world freedom of religion should be the norm.
    Only Islam seems to be insecure re losing people from its faith ie death for any leavers!

  • Villiger says:

    Welcome to Islamabad, Isi-lamabad and Islam-a-bad.
    Whichever way you look at it, what a pathetic society you Pakistanis have created for yourselves, with your culture of violence. I can’t imagine that the history of mankind has seen such an impressively large collection of losers in one place in one time.
    Is President Obama going to go down there this year and tell them what a wonderful ally they have been and how important Pakistan is to world peace? Or is he going to politely withdraw and send a messenger to read this rowdy lot the riot act?
    I have to say watching Pakistan self-destruct in slow-mo is getting boring. Can’t we fast-fwd this a little bit?

  • zarin says:

    @Villiger I think this is American attitude problem that they curse Islam. Go to the root cause it was your war against Russian in the area that you guys suppoted Jehadi forces to take out Russia and it was weakness of your intellegence that among jehadis AQ or Taliban arised. You prosecute all those who used religion to defeate Russia by feeding war lords. In Pakistan it is your trust worthy and funded isi and installed government that you are blaming. You guys either ignore or really don’t know where these funds are spending. You must know that Taliban are using your logestics and technology provided by isi. Public is like sandwich in between courrupt government surviving with your funds and crual suicidals and war lords using your weapons. You should think and look into your weeknesses. You need to create and support pro america lobby or anti taliban tribes. Go to public with wisdom and educate them, don’t insult them or their religion. Majority are with you in this war but you are kicking them. Love and support them and see their response. Pashtuns are tough enemies but if you respect and love them they are very obedient and devoted friends. Use and avail these oppertunities and see the response.

  • Mr T says:

    I surrender so I can be released later.
    What a farce.

  • Charu says:

    This assassination over “blasphemy” and the manner in which the killer was feted by Pakistani lawyers bears an eerie resemblance to a political murder undertaken in pre-partition British India. A publisher in Lahore was assassinated by a Muslim carpenter for printing a “blasphemous” book. Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder-to-be, praised the captured killer for his heroic act, as did all the leading Muslims of the time including Iqbal (the poet who conceptualized the creation of Pakistan), and Jinnah even defended the assassin pro bono in the courts. This barbaric behavior over “blasphemy” is nothing new, and all the nostalgia and talk of how Pakistan once was liberal and tolerant is pure fabrication by the Pakistani elites for gullible Western reporters.


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