5 January 2011
The Socialist International (SI) condemns the brutal assassination of Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab and member of the Pakistan People’s Party, gunned down yesterday in Islamabad by one of his own body guards.
Salman Taseer was an outspoken advocate of religious tolerance and democracy in Pakistan and an open supporter of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad. He also took a clear public stand in favour of women and minorities, saying publicly just a few weeks ago “a people or nation is judged by how they support those weaker than them, not on how they lean on those stronger”. His untimely death is a blow to Pakistani democracy and to the progressive forces in Pakistani society working to strengthen its democratic institutions.
His killer, who immediately surrendered to the police, cited Taseer’s opposition to the controversial anti-blasphemy law as his motive, a law that human right activists claim is regularly abused by extremists to persecute opponents.
The Socialist International extends its deepest condolences to Salman Taseer’s family, friends and colleagues and its solidarity with the Pakistan People’s Party, a member of our International, in its efforts to overcome the divisions in Pakistani society and to promote religious and political tolerance in the country. This cowardly act must not be allowed to thwart those efforts.