Assassins shot and killed the only Christian cabinet minister in the Pakistani government last week, as he sat in a car outside his mother's Islamabad home. In a video meant for release in the event of his death, Minister for Religious Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, a Roman Catholic, said that he had been threatened by both the Taliban and al Qaeda.
The killing was only the latest in a series of incidents underscoring the fragility of the Pakistani government. In January, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, was assassinated by his bodyguard. The motive for the killing was the governor's opposition to the country's blasphemy laws.
In a separate incident, thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of Lahore over the past month, after Raymond Davis, an American working with the Central Intelligence Agency, shot and killed two armed men in January. President Obama has called on Islamabad to honor its commitment to international law by immediately releasing "our diplomat." A court ruled this week that Davis was not a diplomat, but the Pakistani Foreign Ministry will announce definitively in the coming weeks if the CIA contractor is entitled to immunity for any crimes. Two other spooks fled the country after the Davis incident, according to news reports. And in December, the CIA pulled its station chief out of Pakistan after his identity was revealed in the press, though officials in Washington suspect that the Pakistani government was behind his outing.