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Guard guns down Pak Punjab Governor
Assassin confesses he had avenged Governorís statement against blasphemy law
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

Why Taseer was killed

An outspoken and enlightened person, Taseer had become a target of religious extremists after he condemned the death sentence awarded to a Christian woman Aasia Bibi on the charge of blaspheming Prophet Mohammad. He visited her in jail and promised to recommend to the President to pardon her.

Blood & blasphemy

n Assassin sprayed bullets from his machine gun on the Governor as he was sitting in his car, dropped his gun and surrendered.
n The attacker was a member of Punjab's elite force
n Taseer often used Twitter to express his opinion and had tweeted some days ago that he would continue to speak out against the blasphemy law despite backslash from hardline and religious elements.
n Taseer's killing is the most high-profile assassination of a political leader in Pakistan since the murder of former premier Benazir Bhutto in December 2007
n Taseer is survived by wife Amna and their six children. He also has a son with noted Indian journalist Tavleen Singh.
n The Pakistan Government has announced three days of mourning

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated here on Tuesday by his security guard while emerging from a restaurant in capital's heavily guarded area.

The alleged assassin identified as Malik Mumtaz Qadri confessed he had avenged the Governor's statement against the blasphemy law labelling it as a "man-made black law".

Qadri sprayed bullets on the Governor as he was sitting in his car, dropped his gun and surrendered himself to the police. The attacker was member of Punjab's elite force and deputed to security duty of the Governor.

The police said Salman Taseer had gone along with a friend to a restaurant in Kohsar Market in Islamabad's upscale F-6 sector. Just while he was heading towards his car, the assassin sprayed bullets from his machine gun grievously wounding the Governor. He was rushed to hospital but succumbed to injuries on way.

Interior minister Rehman Malik described the assassin as resident of a locality in the outskirts of Islamabad. He likened it to the assassination of former Indian premier Indira Gandhi who was also killed by her own guard amid charged religious sentiments in the country in the aftermath of operation on Golden Temple.

President Asif Zardari, currently staying in Karachi, described Taseer's murder as a horrendous act and declared a national mourning.

An outspoken and enlightened person Taseer had become a target of religious extremists after he condemned the death sentence awarded to a Christian woman Aasia Bibi on charge of blaspheming Holy Prophet Mohammad. He visited her in jail and promised to recommend to the President to pardon her.

"The Blasphemy law is a black law enacted by military dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq that has no sanction in Islam," Taseer declared. His statement evoked countrywide protests by religious lobbies who demanded his removal while some even declared him liable to be killed.

The assassination of Governor Salman Taseer reflected an immensely intolerant religious atmosphere that has permeated across Pakistan in recent years. Last Friday religious parties successfully organized countrywide strike and staged rallies denouncing Taseer's statement and proposed legislation by former information minister Ms. Sherry Rehman to amend the blasphemy law.

Salman Taseer was son of sub-continent's famous progressive writer Professor Taseer, also brother-in-law of great poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

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