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Pakistani Governor Assassinated

Salman Taseer, the Governor of the Punjab Province and a senior member of the People’s Party of Pakistan, was shot and killed yesterday in Islamabad. Pakistani officials are investigating one of Taseer’s bodyguards, who cited Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws as his justification for committing the murder.

Taseer was a vocal supporter of women’s rights in Pakistan and an opponent of the controversial anti-blasphemy laws. In November, he called for the pardon of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who received a death sentence for allegedly criticizing the prophet Muhammad. Religious groups in favor of the blasphemy laws responded by burning effigies of Taseer.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced three days of national morning, as protesters gathered in the streets of Punjab.

Sources:

Associated Press 1/4/11; BBC 1/4/11; Washington Post 1/5/11; Human Rights Watch 12/3/10