Pakistan Assassination Gives Rise to Extremists
Salman Taseer fought to repeal blasphemy laws, was major PPP force
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2011 7:48 AM CST
A Pakistani helicopter carrying the coffin of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, departs for burial, in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
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(Newser) – Yesterday’s assassination of Salman Taseer could deepen Pakistan’s political crisis, and seriously weaken the government’s ability to oppose Islamic extremists. Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province, was maybe the country’s most prominent opponent of religious parties and extremism, and a major ally of the embattled secular Pakistan Peoples Party, the New York Times explains. He was campaigning to repeal Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which proscribe a sentence of death for anyone insulting Islam.

With his death, that repeal looks unlikely, and control of Pakistan’s wealthiest province will fall to Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League-N, the Washington Post reports. The PPP was already reeling from the defection of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement from its ruling coalition, and facing a possible no-confidence vote if it doesn’t accede to certain Muslim League-N demands. Sharif has pushed back the deadline for that vote three days in light of Taseer’s death, but even if the PPP survives, US officials fear it’ll be rendered helpless to enact much-needed reforms.