The top official of Pakistan's most populous province, an outspoken critic of religious extremism, was assassinated Tuesday in Islamabad by one of his own police bodyguards, plunging the country vital to the U.S. fight against terrorism deeper into political turmoil.
Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, who has been battling Islamists after he denounced a law against blasphemy, was killed on a road in the center of the Pakistani capital.
His slaying came as the ruling coalition led by the secular Pakistan Peoples Party, the PPP, was in danger of collapse after losing its parliamentary majority amid a growing economic crisis, including a sudden rise in fuel prices and extensive power shortages.
The turbulence couldn't come at a worse time for the Obama administration, diverting Pakistani political and military leaders from what Washington had hoped would be an intensified drive to shutter Afghan insurgent strongholds and al Qaeda-allied bases on Pakistan's side of the rugged border with Afghanistan.
Given the depth of anti-American sentiments in Pakistan, however, there is little the U.S. can do, several analysts said.
We are wasting our time, effort and money on ungrateful people in that part of the world.
You can't force people to want to be free.