News / Asia

    Pakistan Governor's Assassination Highlights Security, Extremist Problems

    Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, center, surrounded by officials and members of his government, offers a prayer during the funeral procession of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer in Lahore, Pakistan, Jan 5, 2011
    Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, center, surrounded by officials and members of his government, offers a prayer during the funeral procession of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer in Lahore, Pakistan, Jan 5, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Gary Thomas

    The assassination of the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province was a shock, coming as it did in the middle of a political crisis for the government. Analysts believe it will have no direct major effect on the central government's precarious stability. The killing may intimidate Pakistani politicians and embolden extremists.

    As governor, Salman Taseer was not the most powerful official in Pakistan's most populous province. Pakistan's political setup gives that distinction to the chief minister, rather than the appointed governor.  

    Analyst Kamran Bokhari of the private intelligence firm Stratfor says that minimizes the direct political impact on the central government.

    "Governors and presidents (in Pakistan) are more ceremonial than actual chief executives," said Bokhari. "From that perspective, it is not such a major blow. But it is, nonetheless, a high-ranking state official - one who was very much prominent in the efforts to revamp the religious laws of the country. And the late Salman Taseer never shied from being very assertive about his views, his secular views."

    Taseer was gunned down Tuesday at close range by one of his own bodyguards in an upscale Islamabad market. His assassin said he killed the governor because of Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, which prescribe the death penalty for anyone accused of "insulting Islam." Critics, like Taseer, say the laws have been used to persecute Christians and other minorities and to settle personal scores.  

    It is not clear if the assassin, identified as Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, was acting alone or on behalf of others. But the killing underscores the growing clout of religious extremism in Pakistan. And, said Bokhari, it also highlights the problem of extremism in security and police agencies.

    "If the people who are protecting the state and society from Islamist insurgents and actually fighting those insurgents are penetrated, then that explains the situation in Pakistan, where the government and the state is having a hard time battling this," said Bokhari.

    The governing Pakistan Peoples' Party was already reeling from the sudden withdrawal of the Muttahida Quami Movement from the ruling coalition, leaving the PPP a minority governing party. But Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation said Taseer's murder has no real effect on the political crisis.

    "Certainly the other parties would be condemning this," said Curtis. "And so I do not think that it in any way sort of deepens the current political crisis that the government is in.  Yet it is a major setback for all of Pakistani society and those who would seek to move forward and to progress."

    And, she added, it halts any effort to repeal the blasphemy laws.

    "The PPP in the past has tried to roll back these blasphemy laws, but it's always been forced to back away from such initiatives because of pressure from the religious parties," said Curtis. "And I think this will be just one more setback in these efforts."

    The opposition, led by Nawaz Sharif, has said it will refrain from pursuing a vote of no-confidence, at least for now. But U.S. Naval War College professor Hayat Alvi - who is expressing personal views - said the opposition can demand and get concessions from the government, including ones concerning the blasphemy laws.

    "If there is a concession that they are demanding to stop or impede the repeal of the blasphemy law, then it is a very bad development, if that is what happens," said Alvi. "So there are many opportunities now for the opposition to demand concessions, because they hold that bargaining chip where if they do not get what they want, they can ask for a vote of confidence."

    Alvi added that the world of Pakistani politics is wildly unpredictable, in which anything can happen.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora