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Assassination of Pakistani governor Salman Taseer rocks Islamabad

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A similar wave of sympathy this time around could create a “cooling period” among Pakistan’s opposition parties, which are considering tabling a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, and give the government breathing room, according to a leading Pakistani political analyst who asked to remain anonymous given the sensitivities of commenting on the issue at this time.

The killing may also galvanize the PPP base and liberal opponents to militancy.

A supporter of liberal values

To his supporters, Taseer's flamboyant personal life, as well as his outspoken opposition to the Taliban and the country's blasphemy laws, represented the liberal values of the PPP. The Daily Times newspaper, which he owned, regularly highlights issues of concern to women and the country's religious minorities.

Farahnaz Ispapahani, a member of parliament from the PPP and a presidential aide, told the Monitor: “We’re all in a state of shock at the moment. They feel they’ve lost a leader and lost a father. He was an incredibly brave man. He lived by the true principles of the PPP.”

Following the announcement of Taseer's death, PPP workers in Lahore, the capital of Punjab Province, congregated outside the governor's house to mourn.

What next?

Taseer was reportedly shot nine times by a member of the Punjab Elite Force – his own security – who surrendered and was immediately arrested. An eyewitness told local media that the man, named by police as Malik Mumtaz Qadri, left his vehicle and opened fire on the governor as he sat in his car.

President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered a high-level inquiry into the death as the ruling party announced a two-week period of mourning.

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