Pakistan Observer

Governor Taseer assassinated

Accused gunman arrested,Govt announces three day mourning, Country-wide condemnation, Protest rallies in various cities of Punjab

Tanvir Siddiqi, Nasir Mahmood

Wednesday, January 05, 2011 - Islamabad/Karachi—Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by his gunman of Punjab Elite Force Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri here Tuesday afternoon.

The Interior Minister said the alleged killer had made confessional statement saying “I have killed the Governor on his describing the Blasphemy Law as a “black law.“ The killer surrendered to the security forces,” moments after shooting the governor dead. Qadri was immediately arrested and police were interrogating him”, he added.

Rehman Malik said Salman Taseer had lunch along with one of his friends at a cafe in Kohsar Market of Islamabad. As soon as he came out of the cafe to board his car, he was sprayed with bullets. Earlier, the Governor had visited the President House and met Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira at the Parliament House.

According to reports, he was seriously wounded in the firing and was rushed to the nearby Federal Government Services Hospital but succumbed to his injuries. Salman Taseer was appointed Governor Punjab in May 2008.

The Interior Minister said investigations would determine whether it was an individual act or the assassin was acting at the behest of someone else.

The Interior Minister said all VIPs have been provided necessary security and the Governor was provided additional security by Islamabad Police but one cannot do anything when one’s own gunman is involved in such act.

Salman Taseer started his political career in his student life joining Pakistan People’s Party in late 1960s. In the 1988 general elections, he became a member of the Punjab Assembly from Lahore. He also contested polls in 1990, 1993 and 1997 general elections.

In 2007, he was appointed the interim Federal Minister for Industries, Production and Special Initiatives.

The Prime Minister was informed about assassination of Governor Punjab while Gilani was on the Motorway near Chakari, coming back to Islamabad from Lahore by road because of fog.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani cancelled all his engagements including the briefing to Parliamentary Leaders of political parties on Petroleum prices.

The leaders of various political parties in the Parliament called on the Prime Minister to express their heartfelt condolences. They expressed their grief and condemned the heinous crime. They included ANP Chief Afsandyar Wali Khan, Leader of PPP (Sherpao Group) Aftab Ahmed Sherpao , Munir Orakzai of FATA, Haji Khuda Buksh Rajar of PML(F) and Hina Rabbani Khar.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has ordered state funeral for Governor Punjab Salman Taseer.

Central Information Secretary of the PPP Fauzia Wahab said that Co-Chairman of the party President Asif Ali Zardari has cancelled all activities of the party as a mark of condolence. She said the PPP would observe two week of mourning in memory of the late Governor.

She said the entire party fully shares the grief of the family of Salman Taseer.

According to details, Salman Taseer received 24 bullets in his body, chest, abdomen and neck.

He was shifted to Federal Services Hospital in critical condition where the doctors confirmed him dead.

Sources said that the accused after committing the crime put his gun on the ground and handed himself to police saying that he had killed Governor Punjab.

After the incident police and other law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area and arrested several other persons on suspicion. Taseer was married to Aamna Taseer and resided in Lahore. They had six children Maryam, Shehryar, Shahbaz, Sara, Sanam and Shehr Bano.

He was known to be one of the trusted aides of Benazir Bhutto. He was a class fellow of Nawaz Sharif at Saint Anthony School, Lahore. He had obtained a degree in Chartered Accountancy from London.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani have strongly condemned the assassination of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer on Tuesday afternoon and directed the Interior Minister Rahman Malik to personally supervise the investigations and report to him urgently.

The President was informed about the tragic assassination during a meeting with the Members of the Provincial Assembly of the PPP belonging to Sukkur, Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Ghotki in the Bilawal House on Tuesday.

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah will proceed to Lahore to participate in the funeral on behalf of the President.

Describing the crime as ‘most ghastly’ the President said that no words were strong enough to condemn it. The perpetrators of this heinous crime must be punished, he said adding also, “they will be punished”.

The President said that Salman Taseer was endowed with great courage and energy who employed these qualities in the service of the province and the country. He faced the vicissitudes of life with composure, resilience and courage, the President said. The President prayed to Allah to rest the departed soul in peace and give courage to members of the bereaved family to bear the loss with fortitude. Prime Minister has ordered a high level enquiry into the incident.

Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Speaker, Faisal Karim Kundi, Deputy Speaker National Assembly, PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Farooq H Naik, Nayar Bukhari and other federal ministers have strongly condemned murder of Salman Taseer.

In their separate statements they expressed their profound grief and sorrow over the unfortunate incident.

They said that Salman Taseer was a seasoned political leader and during his tenure as Governor he had rendered valuable contribution to the development of the province and welfare of the people of Punjab.

He always strived for the promotion of democracy and supremacy of constitution in the country and his services will be remembered for a long time to come, they said.

Leader of Muttahida Quami Movement Altaf Hussain called President Asif Ali Zardari from London and offered his condolences over the martyrdom of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer. Altaf Hussain termed it a national tragedy and said that he was personally grieved over the incident. He asked President Zardari to arrest the elements behind the killing. Altaf Hussain endorsed his support to the two weeks mourning announced by People’s Party. President Zardari thanked Altaf Hussain for expressing solidarity.

MQM Chief said, the assassination of Salman Taseer “is point to ponder for the people of Pakistan. This is an attempt to bring instability in the country and those involved in the attack are the enemies of the country.”

There were protest rallies in Lahore, Sialkot and other cities against heinous murder of Governor Punjab in Islamabad. Punjab Government ordered closure of educational institutions today (Wednesday). Funeral prayers will be held this afternoon in Governor House in Lahore.

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