Salman Taseer, a senior member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, was shot in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. There are conflicting reports about him dying at the scene or dying after being taken to hospital. He was gunned down by one of his own elite security force protectors and it is reported that the man said he did this because Mr. Taseer recently supported the proposed amendments to the blasphemy law.
Newspapers are calling this the highest-profile political assassination since the death of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December of 2007. Taseer was connected to the Bhutto legacy as a member of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party and had close ties to President Asif Ali Zardari, who was Bhutto’s husband. As a vocal member of Pakistan’s ruling party, Taseer recently spoke out against Pakistan’s blasphemy law.
The attack took place in a shopping area known as Khosar market which and is popular with westerners and wealthy Pakistanis. The BBC reported that Taseer was shot twice as he got out of his vehicle in the market and five other people were apparently wounded in the attack. The gunman was taken into custody.
Pakistan has been in an uproar as of late over the government proposals to change the current blasphemy law. The country has been beset by protests from various Islamist groups who are against any changes to this law. It is thought that the law is being abused by being a means to persecute perceived religious and political enemies.
As reported on December 31, 2010, Sunni Muslim clerics organised a 24 hour strike across the country to protest any changes.
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