Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, was assassinated today in Islamabad by one of his own guards. The guard’s motivation apparently was Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
The assassination of Taseer throws Pakistan’s already troubled political situation into even more chaos. Taseer’s assassination comes scarcely 48 hours after the liberal, secularist MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) withdrew from the coalition government led by the Pakistan’s People Party (PPP).
Taseer was part of the PPP and an ally of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto. It is worth noting the third anniversary of Bhutto’s assassination took place a week ago.
The PPP is trying to form an alliance with the main opposition party led by former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. For his part, Sharif has given Pakistan’s current Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani 72 hours to comply with his demands. He has also threatened to withdraw his support for the PPP government formerly led by Taseer.
Now some could argue that this is a typical week in Pakistani politics. The only problem is that what happens in Pakistan has a direct bearing on the War in Afghanistan as well as on the broader War on Terror (regardless of whether the Obama Administration chooses not to use the term). Let’s also not forget they have nuclear weapons. As we all know, nukes and a jihadist ideology mixed together does not bode well.