The assassination of a key provincial governor in Pakistan is another warning about the dangerous rise of religious extremism in that country — a trend that threatens not only the current government but the prospect of U.S. success in Afghanistan.
Salman Taseer was governor of Punjab, the country’s wealthiest and most populous province. His killing, apparently at the hands of his own bodyguard, is the most significant political murder since the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. It is also a clear sign that the religious extremism of Pakistan’s western provinces is spreading.
Taseer ran afoul of the extremists by calling for repeal of Pakistan’s repressive blasphemy law, which he called “disgraceful.” Taseer advocated a pardon for an uneducated Pakistani Christian sentenced to death under the blasphemy law for supposedly insulting Islam.
For many years, Pakistan’s army and its intelligence services have encouraged and trained extremists in the western provinces while at the same time working to preserve a basically secular regime in the capital, Islamabad.
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