The funeral mass of minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti drew high-profile figures, but notably absent from the event were Pakistan President Asif Zardari and opposition leaders.
Mourners paid their last respect to Bhatti on Friday at Islamabad’s main church, Fatima Church, amid high security. Police and security forces blocked cars from coming near the church before the ceremony began for the only Christian cabinet member who was assassinated Wednesday for opposing the blasphemy laws. Those who entered the church were subjected to being searched by metal detectors, according to Agence France-Presse.
Among the crowd at the memorial were Bhatti’s family members, some members of the cabinet, government officials and diplomats. more >>
LAHORE – Pakistan’s minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti will be buried at his ancestral village Khushpur, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of Lahore, on Friday at 1 p.m. (local time).
But as Pakistan’s first and only Christian cabinet member is about to be laid to rest, his family members and government officials are arguing over the amount of security he received.
Bhatti’s family said he was never given an extended security cover and had the same security from his first to the last day as minister, despite many requests to the government for more protection. more >>
The killing of two senior state officials for speaking up against the controversial blasphemy law in Pakistan raises serious concerns. For it is evident that both Punjab Province Governor Salman Taseer and Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated by Islamist extremists although the Pakistani government has been a key ally of the United States in its war against terror for around a decade.
Both former President General Pervez Musharraf and the current head of State, Asif Ali Zardari, promised to repeal the blasphemy law embedded in Sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Their pledge acknowledged that the law was being misused to target religious minorities – Christians, Shi’as, Ahmadiyyas and Hindus – and was allowing Islamists to justify killings, thereby propagating their twisted belief that killing a “blasphemous” person earns a heavenly reward.
This law is dangerous particularly because there is no provision to punish a false accuser or a false witness of blasphemy. This means a Muslim can easily seek revenge by making an allegation against his or her adversary who is a non-Muslim. While Musharraf and Zardari fought terrorists with some genuine commitment, they failed to revoke the blasphemy law. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – Suspected Islamic extremists sprayed 25 to 30 bullets at Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti’s car on Wednesday as he came out of his mother’s home in a residential area of the Pakistani capital to attend a meeting of the federal cabinet.
The federal government had provided bodyguards for Bhatti, the only cabinet-level Christian, but they were not present at the time of the attack.
A letter found at the scene, purportedly from Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists, claimed responsibility for the killing. Police sources said the letter found at the murder site accused Bhatti of waging a campaign to amend the blasphemy law. more >>
Pakistani Christians took to the streets Wednesday to protest the fatal shooting of the nation’s only Christian Cabinet member and to demand the government bring to justice the killers.
Shahbaz Bhatti, the federal minister of minorities affairs, perished in a hail of bullets as he left his mother's home by car Wednesday morning. Since then, the nation’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has increased security for federal ministers.
Leaders worldwide have condemned the attack. more >>
Church leaders have condemned the brutal murder of Pakistan Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti.
Bhatti, the first Christian to be a member of the Pakistani President’s Cabinet, was gunned down Wednesday morning, local time.
"It is with the greatest shock and sorrow that we have heard of the assassination of Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti," said the Archbishops of Canterbury and of York, Dr. Rowan Williams and John Sentamu. more >>