Pakistan's Punjab Governor Taseer's Assassination
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
By B Raman
Issue Net Edition | Date : 05 Jan , 2011

The assassination of Salman Taseer, the liberal Governor of Punjab, by one of his police security guards at an Islamabad shopping centre on January 4 because of the Governor’s criticism of the blasphemy law draws attention once again to the penetration of the Pakistani security forces by Islamic extremist elements.

Earlier, evidence of such penetration came in the involvement of low-level army and Air Force officers in the two unsuccessful attempts to kill Gen.Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in December 2003, and in the assassination of 19 officers of the US-trained Special Services Group (SSG) by a Pashtun Army officer belonging to the SSG, whose younger sister was reportedly among the 300 girls killed during the SSG raid on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad between July 10 and 13, 2007.

Governors criticism of the blasphemy law draws attention once again to the penetration of the Pakistani security forces by Islamic extremist elements.

The Pashtun officer blew himself up during dinner at the headquarters mess of the SSG at Tarbela Ghazi, 100 kms south of Islamabad, on the night of September 13, 2007. An army soldier Naik Arshad Mahmood was among those sentenced to death in the case relating to the attempts to kill Musharraf . He was executed. The investigation brought out that some of the plotting against Musharraf was carried out in Air Force barracks in the Islamabad-Rawalpindi area. While a joint Al Qaeda-Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM)—Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) team motivated by Abu Faraj al-Libbi was suspected in the attempts to kill Musharraf, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was suspected in the assassination of the SSG officers by one of their   colleagues.

In 1995, a plot by the HUJI led by Qari Saifullah Akhtar to assassinate Benazir Bhutto, the then Prime Minister, and Gen.Abdul Waheed Kakkar, the then Chief of the Army Staff, with the complicity of some commissioned officers of the Army was discovered and neutralized in time.

Thus, the involvement of personnel of the security forces in plots against political and military leaders is nothing new in Pakistan, but there are some significant differences between the earlier incidents and the assassination of Salman Taseer. In the earlier three incidents, the security forces personnel involved came from the Armed Forces and were from the Deobandi-Wahabi-Salafi sects. In the assassination of Taseer, the culprit is from the Elite Force of the Punjab Police specially raised and trained to fight against terrorism and to protect VIPs. Media reports from Pakistan claim that he is from the Barelvi sect, which has till now been considered more tolerant than the Deobandi-Wahabi-Salafi sects.

Also read: Trends in Space Weaponisation

One extremist organization in Pakistan which has recruits from all sects, including the Barelvis, is the Hizbut-Tehrir(HT) which is believed to have many followers in the Armed Forces as well as the Police. Though the Pakistani intelligence agencies apprehend a major threat to their national security and to the security of their VIPs from the HT, there has so far been no instance of the actual involvement of the HT in such plots. All of those involved in such plots in the past, came from either Al Qaeda or the TTP or the JEM or the HUJI or the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri against whom also there was some suspicion in connection with the unsuccessful attempts to kill Musharraf.

1 2
Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

B Raman

Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left