U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday denounced the assassination of the governor of Pakistan's largest province of Punjab, saying his death is a "great loss." "We strongly condemn the assassination today in Pakistan of Punjab Provincial Governor Salman Taseer," Clinton said in a statement. "I had the opportunity to meet Governor Taseer in Pakistan and I admired his work to promote tolerance and the education of Pakistan's future generations." Taseer was shot dead in Islamabad on Tuesday by one of his guards, who is a member of the country's anti-terror Elite Force. Meanwhile, US newspapers prominently displayed the story of Taseer's assassination, with most, saying that it points to Pakistani extremists' mounting power. Clinton said, "His death is a great loss. Our deepest sympathies are with Governor Taseer's wife and children," she said. "The United States remains committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan as they persevere in their campaign to bring peace and stability to their country." The Washington Post described him as "one of Pakistan's most openly progressive politicians," and his murder "violently highlighted extremists' tightening grip on the country even as the beleaguered government struggled to stay in power." "The razor-tongued governor of Pakistan's most populous province was known for speaking out on behalf of women and religious minorities, and his slaying stunned the nation and alarmed U.S. officials," the Post's dispatch from Islamabad said. "It also further rocked Taseer's ruling Pakistan People's Party, which is desperately trying to keep its government afloat following a key ally's defection to the opposition Sunday. The New York Times said that the killing of Taseer, the "outspoken secular politician by one of his elite police guards ... plunged the government deeper into political crisis and highlighted the threat of militant infiltration even within the nations security forces. "The killing of Salman Taseer, the prominent governor of Punjab Province, was another grim reminder of the risks that Pakistani leaders take to oppose religious extremists, at a time when the United States is pushing Pakistan for greater cooperation in the war in Afghanistan by cracking down on militant groups like the Taliban," the Times said in a dispatch. "He recently took up a campaign to repeal Pakistans contentious blasphemy laws, which were passed under General Zia as a way to promote Islam and unite the country. The laws have been misused to convict minority Pakistanis as the Islamic forces unleashed by the general have gathered strength. The laws prescribe a mandatory death sentence for anyone convicted of insulting Islam," it said. Religious parties, the newspaper pointed out, staged vigorous demonstrations of thousands of people across the country last weekend to protest the campaign by Taseer, even burning him in effigy. Taseer countered in comments on his Twitter account and elsewhere. Religous right trying 2 pressurise from the street their support of blasphemy laws. Point is it must be decided in Parlaiment not on the road, he wrote on Dec. 26 in the imperfect shorthand typical of such posts. I was under huge pressure sure 2 cow down b4 rightest pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if Im the last man standing, he posted on Dec. 31.