Salman Taseer’s death provides a parable of why his country, which promised so much, has slipped so far, the Economist writes.
In his first speech to Pakistan’s constituent assembly, on August 11th 1947, the country’s president, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, made clear his belief that religious toleration should prevail in the country he had brought into being. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan.”
It is a dreadful measure of how far Pakistan has sunk since then that Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, was murdered on January 4th because of his outspoken support for that principle.
Mr Taseer, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party and a close ally of the president, Asif Ali Zardari, had been campaigning on behalf of Asia Bibi, an illiterate Christian farm worker who in the course of a row with neighbours over drinking water was accused of blasphemy, convicted and sentenced to death.
He had called for her to be pardoned, and also for the law, under which death for blasphemy against the prophet is mandatory, to be changed. His murderer, one of his bodyguards, said this was why the governor was killed.
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