Memorial Service in Honor of Shahbaz Bhatti at Pakistan Embassy in Washington

Ambassador Husain Haqqani addresses the memorial service in honor of slain minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti at the embassy in Washington. Also seen are Ms. Farahnaz Ispahani, US Under Secretary for Democracy & Global Affairs Maria Otero, US Deputy Representative for Pakistan & Afghanistan Dan Feldman, US Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Posner and Ambassador Karl Inderfurth, CSIS

Washington, DC: Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, said he decided to hold a service for Bhatti at the embassy as there was an “unconscionable silence” by many Pakistanis who in their hearts are respectful of other faiths.

“When Shahbaz Bhatti was murdered and we remain silent, some of us have died with him,” Haqqani told the service attended by US officials and Pakistani expatriates.

“If we are silent, we allow evil to win,” Haqqani said. “It is unacceptable, it is un-Islamic, it is not what Pakistan was founded for, it is not what Pakistanis living abroad can be proud of as Pakistanis and – if I may use a term that has been abused in Pakistan – it is blasphemy.”

Farahnaz Ispahani, a member of Pakistan’s parliament, praised Bhatti’s work on the blasphemy law and other efforts including trying to restrict hate speech.

“We are fighting today to protect our great nation from bigoted extremists who want to silence every voice that believes in inclusion,” said Ispahani, who is Haqqani’s wife.

“We may not shout but we are strong, and unlike the murderers and the assassins we are on the right side of history and on the right side of the Holy Book. And we are not afraid,” she said.

Maria Otero, the US under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, said that the United States shared Bhatti’s “pursuit of a world of tolerance.”

“We believe that it is imperative to uphold religious freedom, not only in accordance with international law but also as an essential pillar in the foundation for global peace,” Otero said.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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