Salmaan Taseer

Salmaan Taseer
Salmaan Taseer
Salmaan Taseer in 2009
26th Governor of Punjab, Pakistan
In office
15 May 2008 – 4 January 2011
Preceded by Lt Gen Khalid Maqbool
Succeeded by Sardar Latif Khosa
Personal details
Born May 31, 1944(1944-05-31)[1][2]
Simla, Punjab, British India
Died January 4, 2011(2011-01-04) (aged 66)
Islamabad, Pakistan
Political party Pakistan Peoples Party
Spouse(s) Aamna Taseer
Children Shaan
Aatish Taseer
Residence Governor's House (Lahore) (official)
Alma mater Chartered Accountant, from London [4]
Website Personal Website

Salmaan Taseer (Urdu, Punjabi: سلمان تاثیر; May 31, 1944[1][2][5] – January 4, 2011) was a Pakistani businessman and politician who served as the 26th governor of the province of Punjab from 2008 until his assassination in early 2011.

A member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), he had served also as a minister in the caretaker cabinet of Prime Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro under Pervez Musharraf. Taseer was also the chairman and CEO of the First Capital and Worldcall Group.

He was appointed to the post of governor on May 15, 2008, in place of outgoing governor Lt Gen (R) Khalid Maqbool,[6] by then-President Musharraf at the request of the PPP establishment.

On January 4, 2011, Taseer was assassinated in Islamabad by his own security guard Mumtaz Qadri, who disagreed with Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law.[7]


Early life

Salmaan Taseer was born on May 31, 1944, in Simla, British India.[8] His father, Muhammad Din Taseer, obtained his PhD in the United Kingdom and was a close friend of Allama Iqbal.[8] His late mother Bilqis "Christobel" Taseer, a Christian Englishwoman,[9] was the sister of late Alys Faiz, a writer and poet who herself was the wife of renowned Urdu poet late Faiz Ahmad Faiz.[8] His father died when he was six years old and he and his two sisters were brought up in relative poverty by their mother.[10]

Personal life

Salmaan Taseer married Aamna Taseer; the couple resided in Lahore. They have three children: Shahbaz, Shehryar and Shehrbano. Shehrbano is a journalist for Newsweek[11]. Salmaan Taseer also has 3 children from a previous marriage: Sara, Shaan and Sanam.[citation needed]

Taseer also had a son, Aatish, in 1980 with Indian journalist Tavleen Singh. Though married at the time, Taseer met Singh during a book promotion trip to India in March 1980. According to Aatish, their "affair lasted little more than a week."[12] Aatish is a freelance journalist in the UK and has recently written a book – Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey through Islamic Lands – about his estranged relationship with his biological father.[13][14]

In the early 1980s, Taseer had a year long affair with Bollywood actress Simi Garewal. [15]

Taseer was known to be one of the trusted aides of Benazir Bhutto.[4] He was a classmate of Nawaz Sharif at St. Anthony's School in Lahore,[4] and had obtained a degree in Chartered Accountancy from London.[4]

On 26 August 2011, his son, Shahbaz Taseer, was kidnapped in Lahore by unidentified gunmen. [16]

Political career

Taseer started his political career in his student era, as a member of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the late 1960s.[17] He was a part of the movement for Mr. Bhutto's freedom and opposed his arrest and death sentence.[17] He also wrote a political biography on Bhutto titled Bhutto: A political biography (1980).[17]

In the 1988 general elections, Taseer became a member of the Punjab Assembly from Lahore.[17] In the 1990, 1993 and 1997 general elections, he stood for election to be an MNA but lost.[17]

In 2007, he was appointed the interim Federal Minister for Industries, Production and Special Initiatives.[17]

On May 15, 2008, Taseer was designated for the office of Governor of Punjab by the PPP-led coalition government.

Business career

Taseer set up several chartered accountancy and management consultancy firms early in his career.[18] In 1995, he established the First Capital Securities Corporation (FCSC), a full service brokerage house with equity participation by Smith Barney, Inc., USA, and HG Asia Hong Kong.[18]

Taseer founded the Worldcall group with a payphone network in 1996. The group has grown over the years to become a major private-sector telecom operator with a national and regional footprint.[18] A majority stake in Worldcall was acquired in 2008 by Omantel, the Sultanate of Oman's incumbent operator.[19]

Taseer also owned an English news channel in Pakistan, Business Plus; and the first children's channel, Wikkid Plus;[18] and was the publisher of the English language Daily Times.[18]


Taseer was kept in solitary confinement for six months and three weeks at the Lahore Fort, where he was shackled to the ground. He did not meet a single person, or read a book or newspaper during his incarceration and emerged 40 pounds lighter than when he had gone in.[clarification needed]

Taseer was arrested 16 times and placed under house arrest several times in jails around Faisalabad, Jhang and Lahore.[20]


In an interview with Meher Bukhari on Samaa TV, Taseer commented on his view about the country's blasphemy law and on filing a mercy petition for Asia Bibi who has been sentenced to death by a court under the Blasphemy Law.[21]

In December 2010 Taseer was alleged to have left the country for several days without handing over charge to the Punjab Assembly Speaker. This meant that the province was without a constitutional head, and it also rendered the assembly speaker ineligible to preside over sessions. Leaving the province without informing his successor was in violation of the constitution and this led to Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal sending a letter to Prime Minister Gilani calling for the removal of Salmaan Taseer by the President.[22] Evidence provided by ICAO on the governor's travel abroad, led to a case being filed in court for breach of the constitution.[23]


On January 4, 2011, one of Taseer's bodyguards, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, shot him 26 times with a submachine gun at Kohsar Market,[24] near his home [25] in Sector F6, Islamabad, as he was returning to his car after meeting a friend for lunch. Kohsar Market is a popular shopping and cafe spot for the city's elite and expatriates.[7][26] Eight hours before his assassination, he tweeted an Urdu couplet by Shakeel Badayuni: "My resolve is so strong that I do not fear the flames from without, I fear only the radiance of the flowers, that it might burn my garden down."[27][clarification needed]

After his assassination, protests erupted in different parts of Punjab. Protesters also burned tires and blocked traffic in Lahore.[28]

The next day, many people turned up for governor Salman Taseer's funeral in Lahore in spite of denunciations by some clerics and religious scholars from mourning Taseer,[29][30] Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and many supporters of the ruling PPP were seen attending the funeral prayer. The funeral prayers were finally led by Allama Afzal Chisti of the Ulema wing of the PPP after the chief cleric of the Badshahi Mosque, who had initially agreed to offer prayers, backed off at the last moment, saying he was going out of town.[31] Taseer was buried at a military cantonment in Lahore.[32]


The assassin Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri is from Punjab, and was part of the security detail provided to Taseer by the Elite Police. After the shooting, Qadri threw his weapon down and put his hands up when one of his colleagues aimed at him. He reportedly pleaded to be arrested.[33] Qadri reportedly said he killed Taseer due to the latter's vocal opposition to the blasphemy law in Pakistan..[34][35] Taseer was against the blasphemy law and termed it a black law. Notably, Taseer made headlines when he favored the Christian Pakistani woman, Asia Bibi,[21] who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy.[36] It was suspected that this was the main reason for his assassination.[37][38] According to a report in Dawn, the assailant was associated with Dawat-e-Islami, a religious organisation associated with the Barelvi movement.[39] Supporters of Mumtaz Qadri blocked police attempting to bring him to the Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi, and some supporters even showered him with rose petals.[40] On 1 October 2011, Qadri was sentenced to death by a Pakistani Anti Terrorist court at Islamabad for murdering Taseer.[41]


  • Pakistan Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf expressed grief over the assassination, adding that Taseer was a seasoned politician and his death was a loss for not only the PPP but also the entire country.[42] Many members of the country's business community also conveyed their shock after the killing.[43]
  • The Chief Minister of Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif condemned the killing, saying, "This is really a big loss for the PPP and as we believe friendly politics deeply condemn this murder, praying for Mr. Taseer."
  • The Government of Punjab ordered all public institutions and schools to shut on January 5 in honour of Taseer.[44]
  • The Punjab Provincial Assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemning the assassination and praising Taseer's political and social services.[45]
  • The Jamaat Ahle Sunnat, an Islamic religious organisation representing the Barelvi movement, issued an advisory against mourning his death.[30][32] They also declared Qadri a "hero of the Muslim world."[46]
  • A Taliban commander in South Waziristan said that Taseer would have been assassinated anyway "very soon" even if he had not been killed by Qadri.[47]
  • Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and current President Zardari, spoke at a memorial service for Taseer in London saying: "To the Christian and other minority communities in Pakistan, we will defend you...those who wish to harm you need to go through me first. Allah has promised them (perpetrators) hell, and we shall send them there." He also said a jihad is needed to combat extremism in Pakistan, while condemning those who praised the assassination.[48]
  • India Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna condemned the killing a letter to Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. The Ministry of External Affairs also said: "On behalf of the people and the Government of India and his own, Mr. Krishna conveyed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and the people of Pakistan."[50]
  • France France condemned the assassination and hailed Taseer as a man known for his "courage in defending democratic institutions." Deputy Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages said, "France firmly condemns the assassination on Tuesday of the governor of Punjab Salman Taseer. Governor Taseer was a political personality of the highest order."[51]
  • Turkey Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan his Paakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari "[o]ffering his condolences to Zardari and condemning the assassination, the Turkish PM also asked the president to convey his heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family and the people of the country."[52]
  • United Kingdom British Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that he was "shocked to hear of the assassination of Salmaan Taseer" and that "his death will be a loss to the leadership of Pakistan. On behalf of the British government I send my condolences to Mr Taseer’s family, friends and colleagues."[53]
  • United States United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly condemned the assassination of Taseer saying she "admired his work to promote tolerance and the education of Pakistan’s future generations" and that his death "is a great loss."[54] Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry also condemned the assassination: "Governor Taseer was a proud champion of democracy and respect for the rights of women and minorities. He fearlessly stood up to the threats of extremists, and lost his life in defense of moderation and tolerance, values shared by most Pakistani citizens. The best way to honor his legacy is to continue resisting violent extremism and supporting the core principles on which Pakistan was founded." [55]
  • Holy See Pope Benedict XVI called for the repeal of the blasphemy law and also called on governments in Muslim-majority countries to protect Christians from violent attacks. He told the Holy See's diplomats that the law was a pretext for violence against minorities. He also added that "The tragic murder of the governor of Punjab shows the urgent need to make progress in this direction." The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam responded in saying: "The pope has given a statement today that has not only offended the 180 million Muslims in Pakistan, it has also hurt the sentiments of the entire Islamic world. This is an interference in Pakistan's internal matters...we respect the pope, being head of Christians and their religion, but he should also refrain from interfering in Muslims' religious affairs."[56]

A fan page appeared on Facebook soon after the assassination against Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, showing news photos of him smiling. The fan page soon gathered thousands of supporters.[57] Many prominent Pakistani bloggers started a campaign to have these fan pages blocked on Facebook as soon as the pages appeared on the social networking website.[58] Several people also denounced the perpetrator creating a page named "I Hate Malik Mumtaz Qadri".[59] Outrage against the gunman was prevalent on Twitter, with numerous journalists and media personalities expressing their sadness over the passing of Taseer and the growing Islamisation and moral collapse of the country.[59]

Possible repercussions

In the international media, his death was seen as more destabilising for the tenuous situation in the country, particularly in the light of resignation of members of the ruling coalition. One local analyst said the death was a "major setback for Pakistan, which is trying to get out of this vicious cycle of violence and worsening economy. [The killing] will certainly weaken the party position in Punjab."[60] It was suggested that the killing was indicative of a "deeper trend" of "religious intolerance" afflicting Pakistan. [61]

The son of the late governor, Shahbaz Taseer, who was a witness in Mumtaz Qadri's trial, was kidnapped on August 26th, 2011 while he was on his way to work in Lahore, Pakistan. [62] After twelve days of unsuccessful attempts by the Pakistani police to recover him, some news sources reported that Shahbaaz, along with an American aid worker Dr Warren Weinstein, was held captive by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.[63][64]

Taseer's assassination may dissuade other Pakistani politicians from speaking out against the blasphemy law, according to a former U.S. State Department intelligence analyst with the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC.[65]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jehangir Khan Tareen
Federal Minister for Industries, Production and Special Initiatives[66]
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Khalid Maqbool
Governor of Punjab
Succeeded by
Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan(Acting)


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  45. ^\01\11\story_11-1-2011_pg13_1
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  63. ^ "Shahbaz Taseer in Pak Taliban’s custody: report". September 2011. 
  64. ^ "Taseer’s son, Dr Warren in Taliban custody". September 2011. 
  65. ^ Shah, Saeed (01.04.2011). "Top Pakistani official's murder adds to Obama's Afghan woes". McClatchy Newspapers/Miami Herald. 
  66. ^ NIP News Karachi, December 19

Sardar Muhammad Latif Khosa succeeded the Governor of Punkjab

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