01/04/2011, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Punjab governor assassinated, he had called for Asia Bibi’s pardon

by Jibran Khan
Salman Taseer was killed by a member of his security detail. Interior minister says that the murderer acted because the governor had described the blasphemy law as a “black law”.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was assassinated today by a member of his security detail at a popular market in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. His assassin, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, said he killed him because the governor had described the blasphemy law as a "black law".

Unlike other Pakistani leaders, Taseer had openly opposed the blasphemy law. He had recently called on President Zardari to grant a pardon to Asia Bibi, a Christian woman from Punjab sentenced to death after she was accused of blasphemy.

“He has confessed his crime and surrendered his gun to police after the attack,” Interior Minister Rahman Malik said about the assassin, explaining that he is a police officer from Rawalpindi and had been recently added to the governor’s staff. This was the third time he worked in the security detail.

President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and other political leaders condemned the murder. Various human rights groups expressed their gratitude to Taseer for his efforts towards the abolition of the blasphemy law and for his defence of Asia Bibi’s life.

In the meantime, police is on high alert fearing more attacks against government officials and political leaders.

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