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World leaders condemn Pakistan governor's assassination

Source: PTI
January 05, 2011 13:05 IST
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International diplomats have condemned the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, governor of Pakistan's powerful Punjab province and a key aide of President Asif Ali Zardari.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Pakistan's ambassador Husain Haqqani to offer her personal condolences on the assassination of Taseer. "We strongly condemn the assassination in Pakistan of Punjab Provincial Governor Salmaan Taseer," Clinton said in a statement after the meeting, which also discussed forthcoming US visit of Zardari this year.

Taseer, one of Pakistan's most outspoken politicians and a close aide of Zardari, was shot dead by his bodyguard on Tuesday in Islamabad. Upon surrendering to authorities, the assassin is reported to have voiced his opposition to the reform of Pakistan's blasphemy law.

"I had the opportunity to meet Governor Taseer in Pakistan and I admired his work to promote tolerance and the education of Pakistan's future generations," Clinton said. "His death is a great loss. Our deepest sympathies are with Governor Taseer's wife and children."

"From our standpoint, his death is a great loss. He was committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan persevere in their campaign to bring peace and stability to their country," US State Department spokesman P J Crowley told mediapersons.

"The razor-tongued governor of Pakistan's most populous province was known for speaking out on behalf of women and religious minorities, and his slaying stunned the nation and alarmed US officials," The Washington Post reported.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the assassination terming it as a great loss for the country. "The secretary general condemns the assassination of the Governor of Punjab province in Pakistan, Salmaan Taseer, a prominent leader whose death is a loss for Pakistan. He extends his condolences to the family of Taseer and to the government and people of Pakistan," said a statement attributable to the spokesman of the UN chief.

The assassination was also condemned by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. "Governor Taseer had been courageous in his criticism of Pakistan's flawed blasphemy law, comments which ultimately cost him his life," said Leonard Leo, USCIRF chair. "His murder sadly demonstrates how the blasphemy law has fuelled a culture of impunity that threatens both Muslims and members of minority religious communities. We urge Pakistan to eliminate its blasphemy law, which impedes freedom of religion and belief and can only weaken its internal security and stability. And, we urge the authorities to bring the attacker to justice," Leo said.

John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Taseer a proud champion of democracy and respect for the rights of women and minorities.

"He fearlessly stood up to the threats of extremists, and lost his life in defense of moderation and tolerance, values shared by most Pakistani citizens. The best way to honor his legacy is to continue resisting violent extremism and supporting the core principles on which Pakistan was founded," Kerry said.

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