PAKPAC Condemns Bhatti’s Assassination
Washington DC : Pakistan American Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC) strongly condemns the vicious and heinous assassination of Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti. This is a sad day for Pakistan, its citizens at home and abroad, and for the forces of democracy and moderation, says a PAKPAC press release. It adds:
Mr. Bhatti courageously criticized the blasphemy laws in Pakistan and recently stated, "It is time that the people of different faiths and the Pakistani nation stand united against the forces of intolerance, against the forces of violence. The blasphemy law is being misused to victimize the innocent people of Pakistan."
A Pakistani of Christian faith, Mr. Bhatti founded the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) movement in 1985. He was recognized for his work on religious freedom throughout the world. In 2003, he was awarded a prize for religious liberty in Finland. In 2009, he was awarded the medallion for championing the rights of minorities by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
In 2008, he was the first Christian Parliamentarian who became the Federal Minister of Minorities Affairs in Pakistan. This was the first time that the ministry had been elevated to a cabinet rank. When appointed, Mr. Bhatti stated that he accepted the post for the "oppressed, down-trodden and marginalized" in Pakistan. True to his word, he fought for the voiceless and lobbied the Pakistani government to release or pardon Asia Bibi (a Christian woman who was given the death sentence for blasphemy).
Indeed, Mr. Bhatti, like others before him, strived to follow the vision of Mr. Jinnah, the Founding Father of Pakistan - a Pakistan in which there is "no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another [and] no discrimination between one caste or creed."
PAKPAC President Dr. Mohammad Suleman demanded immediate action from the Government of Pakistan in this regard. He said, "This shows apathy and weakness of the democratically elected government of Pakistan. It is the responsibility of the government for the security and welfare of every citizen. PAKPAC strongly urge the government to take action against the extremist elements in the society. How many more lives have to be lost, before government will own up to its responsibility of protecting its citizens?"