4th Death Anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti Shaheed

4th Death Anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti Shaheed


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Today is the fourth death anniversary of Pakistan’s Federal Minorities Minister, rights activist and leader of Pakistan’s persecuted Christian community, Shahbaz Bhatti. Bhatti was a senior leader of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party. He was the first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs from November 2008 until his assassination on 2 March 2011 in Islamabad. Bhatti, a Roman Catholic, was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the only Christian in the Cabinet.

As a student, Bhatti founded and served as head of Pakistan’s Christian Liberation Front, which he formed in 1985. He later helped to found the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) in 2002 and was unanimously elected as its chairman. Bhatti joined the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in 2002.

Bhatti was appointed as Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs on 2 November 2008, when, for the first time, the post was elevated to cabinet level and an independent ministry created. At the time, he said that he accepted the post for the sake of the “oppressed, down-trodden and marginalized” of Pakistan, and that he had dedicated his life to the “struggle for human equality, social justice, religious freedom, and to uplift and empower religious minorities’ communities.”

During his time as federal minister, he took numerous steps in support of religious minorities. These included the launch of a national campaign to promote interfaith harmony, the proposal of legislation to ban hate speech and related literature, the proposed introduction of comparative religion as a curriculum subject, the introduction of quotas for religious minorities in government posts and the reservation of four Senate seats for minorities. Bhatti also spearheaded the organisation of a National Interfaith Consultation in July 2010, which brought together senior religious leaders of all faiths from across Pakistan and resulted in a joint declaration against terrorism.

Bhatti had been the recipient of death threats since 2009, when he spoke in support of Pakistani Christians attacked by Deobandi miitant outfit ASWJ in the 2009 Gojra riots in Punjab Province. ASWJ militants are a political ally of Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN. These threats increased following his support for Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy.

Four years ago, Bhatti was killed in Islamabad by Deobandi militants of Sipah-e-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP aka ASWJ). His only crime? He raised voice against persecution of Pakistani Christians and other religious minorities. In particular, he had criticized the role of Deobandi militants (Taliban and SSP-ASWJ) in attacks on Christians, Hindus, Sunni Sufis and Shias.

A few weeks before Bhatti’s murder, Tahir Ashrafi, a controversial Deobandi hate cleric made a fiery public speech against Shahbaz Bhatti in which he threatened Bhatti with physical violence if he did not refrain from his opposition to the anti-blasphemy laws. Ashrafi also played a key role in the release of a known terrorist Malik Ishaq Deobandi (of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi ASWJ) from jail.

A militant of ASWJ, Abdullah Umar Abbasi Deobandi, was arrested by the police in connection with Bhatti’s murder.

Four years after Bhatti’s murder, police and government have taken no action against Tahir Ahsrafi Deobandi. Shahbaz Bhatti’s real murderers and those who incited to violence against him roam free in this Deo-Nazi Rpublic of Pakistan.

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4 responses to “4th Death Anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti Shaheed”

  1. As the only Christian minister in a country buffeted by extremism and violence, he fought for the rights of Pakistan’s beleaguered minorities. On Wednesday he paid the price of principle with a brutal act that he himself had predicted.

    “These Taliban threaten me,” he said in a videotaped message recorded four months ago, and released after his death. “But I am a follower of the cross. I am living for the suffering of my people, and I am ready to die for them.”

    And so it was. His killers met little resistance. Witnesses said Bhatti’s killers arrived in a small white car that blocked the road as Bhatti left the tidy suburban home he shared with his mother, whose husband died six weeks ago.

    First they fired a burst of Kalashnikov that tore through the windscreen. Then they dragged the driver out. Then they continued firing through a side window. Bhatti was alone; his police guard was due to meet him at his office, officials said.

    Bhatti had requested a bulletproof vehicle and a house in the heavily protected ministers’ enclave, a government official said in a TV interview . But other ministers also reported threats and Bhatti’s request was not met, he admitted.

    The gunmen fired at least 25 bullets, eight of which struck Bhatti, according to medics at the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. As they left they scattered pamphlets spelling out their motive. Bhatti was an “infidel Christian” who deserved death for challenging Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws, it said.

    Those following his example would meet a similar fate. “With the blessing of Allah, the mujahideen will send each of you to hell,” it read, signed: “Taliban al-Qaida Punjab” – another name of Punjabi Taliban aka ASWJ.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/mar/02/shahbaz-bhatti-shot-dead