Salmaan Taseer: principled politician with many friends – and enemies

Salmaan Taseer was never one to apologise for who he was or where he came from. Rising from modest beginnings to become a business tycoon, his brash style served him well. But in Pakistan’s dangerous game of politics, it led to his death. Two months ago, in defiance of the prevailing political winds, Taseer paid a visit to Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death under the country’s harsh blasphemy law. Other politicians shunned Bibi, fearing the religious backlash; Taseer insisted on being photographed with her. Then he took his campaign to Twitter. “Unimpressed by mullah rightest [sic] madrasa demo yesterday,” he wrote on 1 January. “No general support.” It was a typically principled stand from a born-again politician with an abundance of enemies and admirers who thrived in the Punjab, Pakistan’s most turbulent political hothouse. The 56-year-old Lahore native had long-standing ties to the Bhutto-led Pakistan Peoples party, and did stretches in the torture cells of the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq during the 1980s. His ardour for politics dimmed in the 1990s after several failed attempts to get elected and he turned to making money, where he did better. Taseer built a small empire including accountancy and management firms, a television station,… Read full this story

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