Influential governor in Pakistan who spoke against insane blasphemy law – assassinated


The BBC reports … (click here) …

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The influential governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer, has died after being shot by one of his bodyguards in the capital, Islamabad.

Mr Taseer, a senior member of the Pakistan People’s Party, was shot when getting into his car at a market.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the guard had told police that he killed Mr Taseer because of the governor’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

Many were angered by his defence of a Christian woman sentenced to death.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani declared three days of national mourning and ordered flags lowered to half-mast. He also ordered an immediate inquiry into Mr Taseer’s killing and appealed for calm.

Dozens of PPP supporters have taken to streets in Punjab’s capital, Lahore, burning tyres and blocking traffic, the AFP news agency reports.

It is the most high profile assassination in Pakistan since the killing of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the PPP’s leader, in 2007.

‘National hero’

Mr Taseer, 66, was shot several times at close range by his Elite Force guard as he got into his car at the Kohsar Market, a shopping centre in Islamabad popular with Westerners and wealthy Pakistanis, Mr Malik said.

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

Unconfirmed reports say up to five other people were wounded when Mr Taseer’s other bodyguards opened fire following the attack.

It is believed Mr Taseer had been returning to his car after meeting a friend for lunch at a nearby restaurant. He had previously been to the presidential palace, the Senate and the interior ministry.

At a news conference in the capital, Mr Malik said: “The police guard who killed him says he did this because Mr Taseer recently defended the proposed amendments to the blasphemy law.”

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