Slain governor 'a great loss': Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the European Union and France condemn the assassination of Salmaan Taseer.


Afp January 05, 2011

PARIS/ BRUSSELS/ WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday condemned the assassination of the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, calling his death "a great loss."

Salmaan Taseer was shot dead at an Islamabad market by a bodyguard who opposed his criticism of controversial blasphemy laws, officials said, plunging nuclear-armed Pakistan into deeper political chaos.

"We strongly condemn the assassination today in Pakistan of Punjab Provincial Governor Salmaan Taseer," Clinton said in a statement.

"I had the opportunity to meet Governor Taseer in Pakistan and I admired his work to promote tolerance and the education of Pakistan’s future generations. His death is a great loss," the chief US diplomat said.

"Our deepest sympathies are with Governor Taseer’s wife and children," she added.

"The United States remains committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan as they persevere in their campaign to bring peace and stability to their country."

Clinton's spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters earlier that the secretary would offer her condolences in person to Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani in Washington.

Taseer was one of the most moderate voices in the main ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and personified the liberal elite, free from the emotive tug of conservative Islam but often criticized as detached from the masses.

It was the most high-profile political killing in Pakistan since former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007.

EU condemns Pakistani politician's murder

The European Union's top diplomat Tuesday condemned the murder of the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province and urged Islamabad to track down and punish his killers.

"Catherine Ashton strongly condemns the brutal murder of Mr Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Pakistan's Punjab province on 4 January at a market in Islamabad," a statement said.

"She expresses her condolences to the family of the victim and to the people of Pakistan. The European Union urges the Pakistan authorities to bring the perpetrators of this crime rapidly to justice."

France condemns Pakistan governor's killing

France on Tuesday condemned the assassination of the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, hailing him as a man known for his "courage in defending democratic institutions."

"France firmly condemns the assassination on Tuesday of the governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer. Governor Taseer was a political personality of the highest order," deputy foreign ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages said.

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