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Zardari vows to expose Taseer's killers

world Updated: Jan 06, 2011 21:37 IST

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday vowed to expose and punish those responsible for the assassination of Salmaan Taseer and said that the Punjab Governor was "killed to sharpen the polarisation in society to derail the democratic process".

Zardari made the remarks when he telephoned Taseer's widow Aamna to convey his condolences.

Taseer was gunned down on Tuesday by police guard Malik Qadri, who said he was angered by the Governor's criticism of the blasphemy law.

"Taseer was killed to sharpen the polarisation in society to derail the democratic process using the façade of religion," Zardari said.

He pledged that "all the dirty hands behind the crime will be exposed and punished in accordance with the law".

Qadri surrendered immediately after shooting Taseer.

Investigators are trying to determine if he acted alone or was part of a larger conspiracy.

Zardari earlier said it was yet to be established whether the assassination was a "conspiracy against the system and the country".

Zardari praised Taseer's courage and determination in "espousing the causes of marginalised sections of society and readiness to pay the highest price for it will continue to inspire many".

He added: "His defiant cry against bigotry and his loud and clarion call for defending marginalised sections of society will echo in the annals of time."

Taseer was an asset of the ruling Pakistan People's Party and "wrote with his blood a new chapter in the history of PPP's continuing struggle for human rights, democracy and no-discrimination," Zardari said.

"Few possess the courage of Shaheed Salmaan Taseer in standing up to bigots and fanatics, and fewer still the readiness to embrace martyrdom for it," the President said.