Family of martyred politician left waiting for news of abducted son
Saturday 27 August 2011
A manhunt is underway in Pakistan's second largest city as the police scour Lahore in an attempt to recover a son of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province who was brutally slain by his own bodyguard for his opposition to the country's draconian blasphemy laws.
Armed gunmen abducted Shahbaz Taseer, the fourth of the late governor's children, yesterday morning soon after he left his home. The captors were driving a black SUV, according to the police and the family. They stopped Shahbaz in his car, forced him out at gunpoint, and dumped his iPad and mobile phones before fleeing.
It is not clear whether the abduction of Shahbaz was for ransom or connected to the slain governor's outspoken opposition to religious extremism. Governor Taseer was shot 27 times by Mumtaz Qadri, who confessed to the killing with chilling pride. Religious extremists twisted the governor's opposition to the blasphemy laws and cast it as an act of blasphemy itself.
Lahore police officer Abdur Razzaq Cheema suggested that the kidnapping was carried out by suspected militants. "It seems they are behind it," he told reporters at the scene where Shahbaz's car was abandoned in an up-market Lahore neighbourhood.
The family has not yet received any word from the captors. This is the second high-profile kidnapping in the city of Lahore in the space of a month. On 13 August, Warren Weinstein, an American development expert, was snatched from his home by gunmen. Mr Weinstein has not been heard from since.
Rights campaigners said the kidnapping was further evidence of Pakistan's weak stand against religious extremism. "The government set a very bad precedent in the aftermath of Salmaan Taseer's death by not seeking to hold his murderer accountable," said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan Director for Human Rights Watch.
"There has been no movement on the case and the failure to prosecute and convict the self-confessed mur- derer is a sign of both incompetence and an appeasement of extremists."
In the nearly nine months since the governor's assassination, Qadri, has not been convicted. Despite his con- fession, the trial has been drawn out, revealing a reluctance to offend extremists in Pakistan. Qadri is lauded as a hero by religious extremists and many mainstream Pakistanis. Earlier this month, the imam who led the governor's funeral prayers fled the country, citing threats to his life.
The family, however, have continued to pursue justice for their father and speak out against religious extremism.
Governor Taseer was a liberal poli-tician who belonged to the ruling Pakistan People's Party. He was one of the few politicians who campaigned for the freedom of Asia Bibi, a poor farmhand who became the first Christian woman to face the death penalty after she was dubiously accused of blaspheming.
The blasphemy laws, human rights campaigners observe, are vaguely worded and used to persecute religious minorities. Two months after the governor's assassination, Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's minorities minister and the only Christian member of the cabinet, was shot dead outside his mother's home in Islamabad.
- 1 Stem cells that can kill cancer have been engineered by scientists
- 2 Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench back campaign to stop Thailand dog meat trade
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
Stem cells that can kill cancer have been engineered by scientists
Ottawa shooting: 'Sergeant-at-arms shot suspect at point-blank range after diving around pillar'
Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
Jack Bruce dead: Cream bass player dies of liver disease aged 71
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...