Finally, and perhaps most worrisome of all for the U.S., Governor Taseer's killing comes as the government is fighting for its survival after two parties withdrew from the coalition.
Just today the main opposition party gave the government three days to present policy fixes for the nation -- or face a no-confidence move in the parliament. Ironically, the assassination has provided the government a little breathing room; that three-day ultimatum has been postponed, until the 40-day mourning period for Governor Taseer is over.
For now, one of the United States' most crucial allies -- already plagued by corruption, grave economic problems and a powerful insurgency -- must face the prospect of serious and long-term instability. And the possibility that moderation in Pakistan -- in short supply already -- may have been among the assassin's victims.