International,  Pakistan,  Your View

The assassination of Salman Taseer and Pakistan’s descent into chaos

This is a cross-post by Shiraz Maher from Standpoint Magazine


The Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was assassinated earlier today for supporting reforms to Pakistan’s arcane blasphemy laws. It is the most high profile and significant political assassination since former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007.

Killed by one of his own close protection officers from Pakistan’s Elite Security Force, Taseer was shot in Islamabad’s F6 sector, a wealthy district close to Koshar Market – an area popular with Pakistan’s middle classes and dwindling expat community.

The alleged killer, Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri, reportedly told officers he did it because “the governor described the blasphemy laws as a black law.”

‘Samaa televsion’ in Pakistan has also broadcast a statement from Qadri saying “Salman Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer”. You can watch the video here (Urdu):

Taseer incurred the wrath of religious extremists after taking up the case of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy. He promised to reform Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and is known to have opposed constitutional discrimination against the Ahmadi/Qadyani sect which is currently declared heretical by the State.

A secularist who championed women’s rights and wanted to reform the religious ordinances, Taseer’s assassination will come as a massive blow to all those pursuing constitutional reforms in Pakistan.

In the meantime, its descent into chaos has entered freefall.