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Slain Pakistani Governor's Daughter Vows To Carry Father's Work Forward


Shehrbano Taseer, daughter of Salmaan Taseer, the Pakistani governor who was killed for opposing the country's blasphemy law.
The daughter of murdered Punjab Governor Salman Taseer says she is determined to continue speaking out against the misuse of Pakistan's blasphemy law, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

Taseer was shot dead on January 4 by one of his security guards who objected to the governor's opposition to the blasphemy law. Critics say the law is often misused to persecute religious minorities or to settle personal scores.

Taseer's daughter, Shehrbano Taseer, a reporter for "Newsweek Pakistan," told RFE/RL in an exclusive e-mail interview on April 22 that the death of her father will not deter or intimidate her from continuing to speak up.

At the same time, she agreed that "there is an increase in radicalization in Pakistan. It's dangerous because we do not know the enemy any more -- he could be anywhere."

Taseer attributed that radical mindset to Saudi-sponsored madrasahs, which "spew venom and hatred left, right, and center."

She said her father talked "all the time" about the problems faced by religious minorities in Pakistan such as the Ahmadis, who are regarded by orthodox Muslims as heretical.

Taseer's father had called for revoking the clause of the law designating the minority non-Muslims.

She recalled that he "was the only politician who visited the Ahmadis when they were attacked in May 2010, and the Christians in the [2009] Gojra attacks as well."

Taseer said she does not think her father could or should have taken even more stringent security precautions than he did. "We live in a democracy and there is free speech," she noted.

Asked whether her family is satisfied with the ongoing investigation into her father's killing, she said "we are confident" that Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri, the guard accused of the killing, "will be punished for what he did."

At the same time, she said it is "sickening" for her "to watch the lawyers garland Qadri, because these men are supposed to be the vanguards of justice in Pakistan, and it makes one wonder just how independent our judiciary really is."

Qadri was showered with rose petals by lawyers and other sympathizers when he appeared in court in January.