Son of Pakistani governor who criticized blasphemy law is kidnapped

August 29, 2011

NEW YORK

The son of a prominent Pakistani politician who was assassinated after speaking out against the country's blasphemy law was kidnapped on Aug. 26 in Lahore, police said.

Shahbaz Taseer, 27, was on his way to work at mid-morning, without his usual security guard detail, when he was taken from his car at gunpoint, police and government officials said.

His father, Salman Taseer, a senior figure in the ruling Pakistan Peoples party and governor of Punjab, was killed last January after he called for reform of the laws that make criticism of Islam a crime possibly punishable by death.

Another of Salman Taseer’s sons, Shehryar, was quoted in Britain’s Guardian newspaper as saying that his brother tried to keep a low profile, unlike their father. “He had received no threats himself, nothing like that. He always stayed out of the media eye,” said Shehryar Taseer.

Shehryar Taseer told the Guardian that the kidnappers had not yet made any contact with the family, who had been receiving threats from religious extremists. “They left everything of value. His Mercedes, his iPad, his BlackBerry. This is not a kidnapping for ransom. That’s the worrying part,” he said. Salman Taseer’s youngest daughter, Sherhbano, a journalist, has often criticized religious extremism in Pakistan.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement: “This family has suffered too much already, and given the security threats directed toward them in the aftermath of Governor Taseer’s death this kidnapping underscores the failing writ of the state and its inability to provide security even to those known to be at high risk.”

The Institute for Religion and Public Policy, based in Alexandria, Va., condemned the kidnapping and called on the government of Pakistan to do everything in its power to to rescue Shahbaz Taseer.

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