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Pakistani provicial governor assassinated

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Pakistani provicial governor assassinated

Pakistan provincial governor assassinated ~ Trends In Retail
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Pakistani provicial governor assassinated

Islamabad - The governor of Pakistan's largest province Punjab was shot dead on Tuesday by his own guard because he had criticized the country's blasphemy laws, a government minister said.

A member of the police squad guarding governor Salman Taseer opened fire as he was about to get into a car after eating in a restaurant in an upmarket area in the capital Islamabad.

'He has confessed that he killed the governor because he (Taseer) had called the blasphemy law a black law,' Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters. 'His name is Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri and he is from Bara Koh (Islamabad's suburb). He has been arrested.'

The 26-year-old told the police that he decided this morning to kill the governor, the minister said.

Taseer, a member of the ruling liberal Pakistan People's Party (PPP), took a firm stand against the controversial blasphemy law late last year when a Christian woman Asia Bibi, 45, was sentenced to death by a court in Punjab for allegedly uttering derogatory remarks about prophet Mohammed.

The governor visited Bibi in prison in November last year to get her signature for an appeal to President Asif Ali Zardari for pardon.

'Inshallah (by the grace of God) her appeal will be accepted. I have studied the case and found that she has not committed any blasphemy,' the governor said on the occasion.

'She is a helpless Christian woman. She can't legally defend herself because she doesn't have the resources. Implicating such helpless minorities in such cases amounts to ridiculing the constitution of Pakistan,' Taseer added then.

Pakistan has not yet hanged anyone for blasphemy, but local and international rights groups have recently increased pressure on the government to amend the law, which they call 'draconian.'

Radical Islamist groups in Pakistan hold regular protests to halt any attempt to change the laws.

On Friday, tens of thousands of people participated in rallies in support of the laws. A strike called for by Islamic parties almost paralyzed the country, keeping businesses in all major cities closed and keeping traffic off the roads.

On Tuesday hundreds of angry PPP activists across the country held protests against the killing of Taseer. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the assassination. Gilani announced a three-day period of mourning.

Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian and a federal minister for minorities, said that the government should take action against religious elements such as those that had encouraged Taseer's murder.

'This murder is the result of instigation in which some religious circles advocated the governor's murder. Those who instigated should also be investigated,' Bhatti demanded, without giving any names.

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