The murder by the Taleban of Shahbaz Bhatti calls for an intelligent and effective response by Asif Al Zardari, Pakistan's President, who happens to be the widower of Benazir Bhutto, also assassinated.
We should remember also Salman Tazeer, another reformist politician who was gunned down on January 4th 2011.
It is very clear that a culture of political assassination is taking hold in Pakistan. Unchecked, this culture will undermine Pakistan's fragile democracy, and could lead to the nightmare outcome of an Islamic Pakistan in posession of nuclear weaponry.
What can be done?
It is very clear that the best possible response would be for the Pakistan Government speedily to repeal its blasphemy laws, in honour of Shahbaz Bhatti's life and long campaign.
This would give a clear message to the Taleban that assassinations are counter-productive in terms of achieving their goals.
It would be a fitting memorial to a brave and dedicated man.
It would make clear that Pakistan is a modern state, with politics well separated from religion.
Of course, this would be politically difficult. But the argument for their action would be simple:
"The Taleban have discredited their own argument by using lethal force on politicians, just as Mubarak and Gaddafi have disqualified themselves as legitimate rulers by using lethal force on non-violent demonstrators. If you disagree, you are rewarding political murder, and that could spell the end of Pakistan as a functioning state".
This is based on sound psychological principles. Without a responsive appeal of the blasphemy laws, the Taleban will succeed in their aim of intimidating anyone from speaking in favour of repeal. With the repeal, they will realise that assassination is not a useful tool, especially if this measure is applied consistently with any future assassinations.