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Slain governor, Oscar winner honoured on Pakistan Day

By Rezaul H Laskar
March 23, 2012 17:40 IST
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Slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Interior Minister Rehman Malik were among those who were awarded the country's highest honour on Pakistan Day on Friday.

Taseer, who was gunned down by a policeman last year for his calls for reforming the controversial blasphemy law, was awarded the Nishan-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan's highest civilian award.

The award was received by his widow Aamna Taseer.

Other recipients of the Nishan-i-Imtiaz included late Begum Nusrat Bhutto, the wife of former President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Nusrat Bhutto's award was received by her daughter Sanam Bhutto.

Chinoy, who recently won an Oscar for her documentary Saving Face which deals with the survivors of acid attacks, was decorated with the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the country's second highest civilian award.

Other prominent figures included actress Meera, musicians Sabir Hasan and Nafees Ahmed Khan, and sportsmen M Ashraf Tai and Mohammad Yousuf.

But the government was criticised by the media for honouring some candidates who were described as "undeserving".

Salman Faruqui, a close aide of President Zardari, was awarded the Nishan-i-Imtiaz while Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi, who presided over the process of nominations for the
honours, was conferred the Hilal-i-Imtiaz.

Several other aides of Zardari were among the recipients, including Sharmila Faruqui, former Senate Chairman Farooq Naek and Farzana Raja.

Media reports noted that some selections had violated a policy laid down by late premier Benazir Bhutto, which said that no holder of a public office should get any national

The awards were announced on the eve of Pakistan Day, which marks the adoption of the Lahore Resolution in 1940 and the adoption of the country's first Constitution in 1956.

President Asif Ali Zardari will give away some of the awards during a ceremony later in the day.

Zardari approved a total of 189 civil awards and a large number of honours for armed forces personnel.

The President himself gave away 67 awards during a ceremony at the presidency.

Awards were presented to five foreign nationals, including Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, who was conferred the Hilal-i-Pakistan.

The governors of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan too decorated awardees on behalf of the President in the provincial capitals.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman decorated 22 recipients of national awards at a ceremony held at the Joint Staff headquarters in Rawalpindi.

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Rezaul H Laskar In Islamabad
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