US newspapers pay tributes to Taseer

Leading American newspapers Wednesday paid tributes to the assassinated Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for his courage in standing up for the rights of Pakistani women and minorities.

“Mr. Taseer was a brave man who had called for the repeal of Pakistan outrageous anti-blasphemy law,” The New York Times said in an editorial.

“Whoever killed Mr. Taseer must be condemned and repudiated, not extolled. Otherwise, Pakistan will certainly continue on a downward spiral in which intolerance and self-destruction triumph,” The Times said.

The editorial, entitled: ‘A Brave Man Killed’, said: “The governor’s death is a tragedy not just for Pakistan but for all who understand that just and stable societies need honest debate and full respect for minorities.

Pakistan cannot afford to lose any fair-minded leaders, especially at a time when it is struggling with a virulent insurgency, an unravelling economy and an unraveling central government.

“Mr. Taseer a longtime ally of President Asif Ali Zardari and his wife, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007 ‘ was Pakistan’s most prominent defender of the rights of women and minorities.”

“He had pressed hard for repeal of the blasphemy law, which imposes a mandatory death sentence on anyone convicted of insulting Islam.” “The law is popular with the Muslim majority but is routinely manipulated to settle personal rivalries and persecute minorities.

The Wall Street Journal said: “Last month, Salman Taseer, the liberal-minded governor of the Pakistani province of Punjab , appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari to commute the death sentence of a Christian woman named Asia Bibi, a mother of five who had been convicted of blasphemy by a local court.