LONDON: British Foreign Minister William Hague said on Tuesday he was shocked by the assassination of the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, adding that it was loss to the leadership of the country.
Salman Taseer was shot dead at an Islamabad market by a bodyguard who was opposed to the politician’s criticism of controversial blasphemy laws, officials said, plunging nuclear-armed Pakistan deeper into chaos.
“I am shocked to hear of the assassination of Salman Taseer,” Hague said in a statement.
“His death will be a loss to the leadership of Pakistan. On behalf of the British government I send my condolences to Mr Taseer’s family, friends and colleagues.”
Yvette Cooper, foreign affairs spokeswoman for the opposition Labour party, called on the British government to support Pakistan as it faces challenges including militancy and recovery from devastating floods last year.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Salman Taseer and strongly condemn this attack,” she said.
Britain, the former colonial power in South Asia, has a large ethnic Pakistani community. In September Pakistani politician Imran Farooqi was shot dead in London.
Farooqi was a member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which at the weekend pulled out as the junior coalition partner of the government led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), of which Taseer was a member.