Published in the Gaurdian.
The governor of Pakistan‘s largest province has been killed in an attack in central Islamabad this afternoon, television stations and government officials said. Punjab governor Salman Taseer was shot nine times by his bodyguard after arriving at Kohsar market, an upmarket shopping area less than a mile from the presidential palace.
Taseer, who was close to President Asif Ali Zardari and an outspoken critic of militant groups, was pronounced dead at the nearby Poly Clinic hospital. The suspected assailant was taken into custody.
Five other people were wounded as security personnel responded to the attack.
Witnesses told the police that as Taseer was leaving his vehicle, a man from his security squad fired two shots at him. The governor fell, while other police officials shot at the attacker. Early television pictures showed police officers swarming around a bloodstained street littered with bullet casings, with a lightly damaged vehicle parked nearby.
Taseer was a key political figure in Pakistan, who had recently courted the anger of Islamist extremists by defending a Christian woman condemned to death under the country’s controversial blasphemy law.
His death is likely to heighten the political instability triggered when one of the government’s main allies pulled out of the ruling coalition at the weekend. Taseer lived in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, but had a large official residence in Islamabad and was a frequent visitor.