Salman Taseer, the slain governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, has been posthumously conferred with one of the country's highest civilian honours, months after he was gunned down by an extremist police guard for favouring amendment to the controversial blasphemy law.
President Asif Ali Zardari awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz to Taseer for his services to the country as part of honours announced on the occasion of Pakistan's Independence Day on Sunday. Taseer served as governor of Punjab from May 2008 to January this year.
Taseer was assassinated in Islamabad on January 4 by police guard Malik Mumtaz Qadri, who was angered by the governor's call to amend the controversial blasphemy law.
Zardari also conferred the Nishan-e-Imtiaz on Interior Minister Rehman Malik for his services to the country.
In a separate development, the ruling Pakistan People's Party has demanded that Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry should take suo motu notice of Taseer's murder in line with the action he had taken to pursue the case of teenager Sarfaraz Shah, who was shot and killed by a paramilitary trooper in Karachi.
PPP spokesman Fakharuddin Chaudhry told the media that the chief justice had directed the lower judiciary to decide Shah's case without any delay in view of the seriousness of the matter. On the other hand, Taseer's case was pending in court despite the passage of over six months, he said.
Chaudhry said, "Taking suo motu action on the murder of an innocent citizen was a good thing but why was the chief justice not taking notice of (Taseer's) assassination by a police official who was deputed for his security?"
There are no links between the two incidents but both victims were innocent and killed by security men, he said. Taseer was a great asset for the PPP who sacrificed his life for democracy and religious harmony, he said.