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    » 08/26/2011, 00.00


    Shahbaz Taseer, son of slain Punjab governor, seized in Lahore

    Jibran Khan

    Armed men abducted him this morning as he went to work. His mobile phones, laptop and other personal items were thrown away. Experts believe he will be used to obtain the release of his father’s murderer. Catholic Church slams the act.
    Lahore (AsiaNews) – Four armed men seized Shahbaz Taseer (pictured), son of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer who was slain on 4 January because of his fight against Muslim extremism. He was on his Mercedes on his way to work at World Call. This morning he was without his usual escort.

    At 10.54 am, a few metres from the entrance, a motorbike stopped in front of Shahbaz’s car, forcing it to halt. Four men came out of a black Toyota Land Cruiser and took him away at gunpoint.

    People present at the scene said that, after throwing away Taseer’s mobile phones and laptop, they drove off in the direction of the Defence Housing Authority.

    Since his father’s murder, the Taseer family had been the object of threats and intimidations from the Taliban and Muslim fundamentalists.

    Salman Taseer was murdered at the start of the year because of his opposition to the blasphemy provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code, which he had described as a ‘black law’, and his defence of Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of five who is waiting for the court to hear her appeal against the death sentence imposed on her for blasphemy.

    The slain Punjab governor strongly backed the campaign for her release, together with Shahbaz Bhatti, the Catholic Minority Minister, who was also killed by unknown extremists.

    Now his son Shahbaz has become a victim. Some experts believe that he might be used to free Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who killed Salman Taseer, becoming a “hero” for Pakistan’s Muslim extremists.

    For Punjab police, it is still unclear why he was kidnapped. They wonder why the kidnappers did not take the car, mobile phones, laptop and other objects. However, they did say that they would do all in their power to rescue him and that they would not rule out any anything, even if it leads them to Mumtaz Qadri.

    Shahbaz’s sister, Sherbano Taseer, has already left Pakistan fearing more violence. Her mother Amina is in shock and has not yet made any statements. After her husband’s murder, she had worried about her son’s fate.

    For their part, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and current Punjab Governor Shahbaz Sharif said that everything would be done to secure Taseer’s release.

    Pakistan’s Catholic Church has condemned the abduction. Fr Xavier Francis, from the Diocese of Lahore, told AsiaNews that Catholics were grateful to Salman Taseer for his solidarity towards religious minorities.

    “The murders of Taseer and Bhatti and the extremism and intolerance that such acts displayed were not isolated incidents,” he explained. “Extremism is now part of mainstream Pakistan”.

    Prayers will be said for Shahbaz Taseer and his family, he added. “Let us hope that he comes home unharmed.”
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    See also

    09/03/2016 13:23:00 PAKISTAN
    For Pakistani Catholics, Shahbaz Taseer’s release after five years gives hope for the future

    After almost five years of captivity, the son of the former governor – killed for his opposition to Islamic extremism – was released. Now he is in a safe place with his family. “Perhaps this release is a sign of the times, mature enough for a necessary change of course strongly advocated by Pakistan’s civil society,” said a Justice and Peace official. For a human rights activist, “authorities seem to be on the right path, but they have a long way to go”.

    03/02/2011 PAKISTAN
    Blasphemy law: Rehman withdraws proposed changes, as teacher denounces 17-year-old boy
    With her life threatened by Muslim fundamentalists, the PPP Member of the National Assembly accepts to toe the party line and accept the government’s view. Prime Minister Gilani confirms that changes will not be introduced. A student is arrested in Karachi for blasphemy after he is accused of insulting the name of Muhammad in an exam. Human Rights Watch calls the decision “truly appalling”.

    05/01/2012 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani Christians remember Salman Taseer as extremists celebrate his assasin
    A year after the death of Governor of Punjab prayer vigils and demonstrations in many parts of the country. The family worried about the fate of his son Shahbaz, for over six months in the hands of his kidnappers. Bishop of Islamabad: "milestone" in the confessional killings. Fundamentalists offer 100 million rupees for the "holy pistol."

    12/01/2011 PAKISTAN
    Blasphemy law: Pope’s call highlights split in Pakistani society
    Radical leaders and Islamic movements incite crowds and warn Christians against forming a party to repeal the law, a step that would bring chaos. The government denies it plans changes to the law. Civil society leaders appreciate Benedict XVI’s speech. Bilawal Bhutto defends minorities. Muslim intellectual calls for full religious freedom and a secular state.

    10/01/2011 PAKISTAN
    In Karachi, 50,000 rally behind blasphemy law
    Fundamentalist leaders organise rally and praise Salman Taseer’s murderer as a “hero of Islam”. The Pope appeals to the Pakistani government to repeal the law because it is a “pretext” for violence and injustice. Pakistani Christians pray for the governor of Punjab, a “martyr” according to Saudi newspaper Arab News.

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