The Governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer was assassinated today in a posh Kohsar Market of Islamabad. According to media reports he was coming out of a restaurant after meeting a friend, when his bodyguard belonging to the Police Elite Force, sprayed him with bullets at a close range.
Salman Taseer was an outspoken senior politician of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and considered close to President Zardari. He had recently harshly criticized the Saudi monarch on twitter, for kingdoms role in Pakistan. According to reports his guard killed him because he had defended the proposed amendments to the blasphemy law.
His murder comes at a time when PPP led coalition is struggling for survival after two of its coalition partners, Jamiate UIema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), parted ways. The leader of Pakistan Muslim League-N had earlier threatened a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister, if the party demands were not met soon. His death is likely to produce a sympathy factor for PPP.
The murder of Salman Taseer by a member of his security detail will also reinforce perceptions in the west that Islamists have infiltrated the security apparatus of the country, which raises serious questions regarding the protection of its nuclear arsenal. As the investigation of the killing unfolds, it would be interesting to see if Pakistani Taliban or extremists had any hand in this. Many in Pakistan are also going to interpret his assassination as an attempt by the military to install a setting of its liking.
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