Rezaul H Laskar
Islamabad, Jan 13 (PTI) The tragic assassination ofPunjab Governor Salmaan Taseer has "underscored the imperativeneed for Pakistani society to marginalise and eliminateextremist tendencies," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani saidtoday.
Gilani made the remarks during an interaction withenvoys of Western countries.
Taseer was gunned down in Islamabad on January 4 by apolice guard who confessed he was angered by the Governor''sopposition to the country''s blasphemy law.
"It is true that some fringe groups had tried to makepolitical capital from the debate about the blasphemy laws.
The real issue is the misuse of the law, for that matter anylaw by any one," Gilani told the envoys.
"We cannot allow such aberrations to happen. Thetragic assassination of Governor Salman Taseer has underscoredthe imperative need for Pakistani society to marginalise andeliminate extremist tendencies," he added.
Gilani also said that Pakistan wants to cultivate goodrelations with its neighbours and is "aggressively pursuingthe policy of friendship with Afghanistan, Iran, India andChina".
He regretted that "whenever we make some headway inties with India, the Mumbai incident is used to stall theprogress".
Gilani''s comments on extremism in his country came aday after US Vice President Joe Biden said during a visit toIslamabad that societies which tolerate developments likeTaseer''s assassination "end up being consumed by thoseactions". Biden also said Taseer was killed "simply because hewas a voice for tolerance".
Taseer, a leader of the ruling Pakistan People''s Partyand a confidant of President Asif Ali Zardari, earned the ireof religious hardliners after he vigorously defended aChristian woman sentenced to death last year for allegedlyinsulting Prophet Mohammed.
The envoys "observed that the goodwill and sympathygenerated for Pakistan after the floods has been lost becauseof the... killing of the Punjab Governor and images beamed bythe media," said a statement issued by the premier''s office.
The envoys said "pictures aired by the Pakistani mediain support of the criminal who assassinated Salmaan Taseerpainted a negative image of Pakistani society".
"Pictures of extremists showering petals of flowersgenerate Islamophobia in societies which are ignorant ofIslamic teachings," he said.
They pointed out that those who believe Islam is apeaceful and progressive religion should speak out at allforums. .