The governor, Salman Taseer, was shot at close range as he was getting into his car in the Kohsar Market, an area frequently visited by the city’s elite and by foreigners. Interior Minister Rahman Malik said that a police guard was the killer. Citing hospital officials, local news media reports said Mr. Taseer was struck by nine bullets.
The assassination came after days of protests, unrest and political upheaval that have shaken the country at a time when the United States is pressing Pakistan to cooperate more fully in the war in Afghanistan and in opposition to the Taliban.
Mr. Taseer had also been embroiled in a recent debate over Pakistan’s contentious blasphemy law. While Mr. Taseer supported its repeal, religious parties strongly opposed any changes.
A suspect in the shooting, identified as Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, is under arrest, the police said. Mr. Qadri, an elite-force security guard, was motivated to kill Mr. Taseer because of his opposition to the blasphemy law, police officials said.
Mr. Taseer was a prominent member of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and a close ally of President Asif Ali Zardari, Mrs. Bhutto’s husband, who ascended after her assassination on Dec. 27, 2007. He appointed Mr. Taseer as governor of Punjab in 2008.
The assassination of Mr. Taseer came as a severe blow to Mr. Zardari, whose government is close to collapse after the defection of a major ally.
Mr. Taseer’s death will also be a setback for the government in Punjab, Pakistan’s most powerful province. The dominant party there is the Pakistan Muslim League-N, led by former Prime Minister Nawaz...