Shahbaz Bhatti: Another Tolerant Voice Silenced

The forces of darkness and hate have struck again and killed another one of us. Until yesterday I did not know much about Shahbaz Bahatti, but today he is my hero. He is my hero for so many reasons:

  • For standing up for a tolerant and inclusive Pakistan.
  • For standing up for the rights of the minorities.
  • For sacrificing his life for his vision and principles.

According to Dawn News “Shahbaz Bhatti was on his way to work in Islamabad when unknown gunmen riddled his car with bullets, police officer Mohmmad Iqbal said. The minister arrived dead at Shifa Hospital and his driver was also wounded badly, hospital spokesman Asmatullah Qureshi said.”

As the Government Minister for MInorities, Bhatti had fought for the rights of minorities throughout his life and was instrumental in various legislative initiatives that protected and expanded the minority rights in Pakistan.

He had also been receiving threats to his life for his principled stance on the Blasphemy law, especially after Salman Taseer‘s murder. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for his killing and the Pakistani government, once gain, has condemned the killing and promised to do more to protect the minorities.

In my humble opinion, the Pakistani government and the Pakistani public need to rethink their national identity. The Blasphemy laws, as I have argued elsewhere, need to be either completely abandoned or altered and the government should show the same kind of courage in this as Mr. Bhatti.

This is also a crucial time for the mainstream religious parties: will they side with the murders, just as they did in case of Taseer’s murder, or would they pause and, for once, reflect on the extreme injustice of this murder.

On a personal note, I salute Shahbaz Bhatti, my brother, my countryman, and my hero, for he has done with his death what Faiz had eternalized in one of his verses:

If it is a game of love, then stake everything, for

a win would be great, but even the loss will not be a loss

A speech by MNA Asiya Nasir protesting the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti:

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