Taseer`s killing signals rising intolerance in Pakistan: Former envoys

The assassination of Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan`s Punjab province, signals increasing intolerance in that country and should be worrying for India and the world, say two former Indian envoys to Islamabad.

Last Updated: Jan 04, 2011, 21:22 PM IST

New Delhi: The assassination of Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan`s Punjab province, signals increasing intolerance in that country and should be worrying for India and the world, say two former Indian envoys to Islamabad.

"It`s a manifestation of a growing Islamist intolerance within the security establishment. The entire establishment has been swamped by rising intolerance," G. Parthasarathy, a former envoy to Pakistan said.

target," he added.

The rising intolerance should be profoundly worrying for India and the world, said Parthasarathy, who had met Taseer many a time and regarded him a wealthy politician close to the Bhuttos.

Taseer, an outspoken critic of Islamist militancy in Pakistan and a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, was shot dead in a posh area of Islamabad Tuesday by one of his guards who said he killed him for opposing blasphemy laws.

It was the most high-profile assassination of a politician in Pakistan since former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was brutally killed Dec 27, 2007.

"It reconfirms our apprehensions about the increasing religious intolerance and fundamentalism in Pakistan," said Satish Chandra, a former deputy national security adviser and also a former Indian envoy to Islamabad.

India should be perpetually on guard against this trend, he added.

Taseer, a liberal politician of the Pakistan`s Peoples Party (PPP), earned the ire of fundamentalists in Punjab for his outspoken views against the Taliban and Islamist militants and for criticising blasphemy laws that made headlines last year after a Punjab court sentenced a Christian woman to death for insulting Prophet Mohammad.

Although India sees the controversy over blasphemy laws as an internal affair of Pakistan, officials who did not wish to be named said New Delhi has watched with concern the increasing stranglehold of fundamentalist forces and the military establishment in the neighbouring country.

IANS