News / Asia

Q&A: Governor's Murder Underscores Pakistan's Fragility

Pakistani police carry the coffin of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, shortly before burial in a cemetary in Lahore, Pakistan, Jan. 5, 2011.
Pakistani police carry the coffin of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, shortly before burial in a cemetary in Lahore, Pakistan, Jan. 5, 2011.

As Pakistan mourns the assassination of one of the country's highest profile political leaders, the ruling Pakistan People's Party is scrambling to shore-up their fragile coalition in parliament. Salman Taseer was a leading figure in the PPP, a close ally of President Asif Ali Zardari, and an outspoken critic of religious extremists.

Political observers say his death is another blow to the ruling coalition and a setback for efforts to reign-in religious extremists who have repeatedly attacked the government.

VOA's Sarah Williams asked Harsh Pant, a professor of Defense Studies at Kings College London, what the assassination of Punjab Province Governor Salman Taseer means to Pakistan.

"Once again, [it] reveals the delicate state of affairs in Pakistan, and especially when you see the high-profile of the governor of Punjab and his assassination in broad daylight, it brings to the fore some of the tensions that are generating beneath the surface in Pakistan. And I also think it brings to light the fragile state of affairs in the PPP, because they're also struggling to retain their power in the parliament.  So on a number of levels, it brings to the fore questions about the viability of the Pakistani state and the capacity of the Pakistani government to take care of the society, especially if it can't even take care of its most prominent politicians."

This was the most high-profile assassination since the killing of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan.  The fact that Mr. Taseer was apparently killed by one of his own security guards, it seems that security remains a big issue in Pakistan.

"Absolutely, and I think the fact that he was one of the supporters of the change in the blasphemy laws also tells you something about the sharp divisions between the elite politicians and society at large from where many of the recruits for radical Islam are coming from.  And therefore the divide is getting wider and wider.  So a politician as prominent as the governor of Punjab can be assassinated in broad daylight.  And I think that element of security becomes very important when you think of how ruling PPP is going to claim its own relevance in the changing political landscape in Pakistan. Therefore, there are now questions being asked whether PPP is the right party to go on at the moment when it can't protect some of its own most prominent politicians."

This assassination occurred just a day after the MQM party decided to leave the ruling coalition. How much time does the People's Party to try to shore up its strength following the loss this key coalition partner?

"Well, it has a few weeks time, but  the most important element here is the Pakistani army and what it decides to do and how it decides to tilt the balance between the various political factions.  So far they've taken a neutral stand, and they have not decided yet to make an official comment on the state of affairs. But the moment they decide to take a stand, I think the winds will tilt one way or the other, and therefore there is not much time, and coming as it does, this assassination, at a very crucial time, it presents a number of problems for the PPP to assert its claims that it claim that it's a party that can bring stability to a country that it already reeling at a number of levels."

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid