The governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by his own security guard Tuesday, according to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, in an incident apparently related to Pakistan’s blasphemy law.
The security guard was arrested, Malik said. The shooting occurred at Islamabad’s Kohsar Market, which is frequented by foreigners.
Taseer went into the market to make some purchases, and he was shot by his guard as he left, said Naeem Iqbal, spokesman for Islamabad police. He was taken to a hospital, where he died, apparently from blood loss.
Malik told Pakistan’s GEO TV that Taseer was assassinated because he spoke out against Pakistan’s blasphemy law.
A spotlight was put on the law in November when a Christian woman was sentenced to death for blasphemy. At the time, Taseer told CNN that Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari would pardon her.
“I mean, he’s a liberal, modern-minded president and he’s not going to see a poor woman like this targeted and executed,” he said.
The English-educated Taseer created “a host of highly successful businesses,” according to his official website, and is “the pioneer of cable television in Pakistan.” He introduced the first English news channel in Pakistan, Business Plus.
The website describes Taseer as an activist who stood up to Pakistan’s previous military leadership, calling it a “brutal and medievalistic dictatorship.” He was arrested a total of 16 times, according to the website, placed on house arrest several times and spent time in “jails around the country.”
He married twice and had six children, according to his website, which also contained a quote from him: “You live life once, you live it by your principles and you live it courageously — that’s what it’s about.”
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