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Deadly Intolerance: Shahbaz Bhatti (1968-2011) : ALL THINGS PAKISTAN
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Deadly Intolerance: Shahbaz Bhatti (1968-2011)

Posted on March 2, 2011
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, People, Religion
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Adil Najam

Shahbaz Bhatti – Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs, son of Jacob Bhatti, defender of minority rights and tolerance in Pakistan, and the only Christian Minister in the current cabinet – was gunned down today by the enemies of Pakistan, the enemies of humanity, and enemies of all that is decent and right.

Today, once again, we have one less good Pakistani amongst us. Today, once again, all of us should be ashamed at the intolerance that we have bred and tolerated around us.



Here is a report from Dawn on the news:

Gunmen shot and killed Pakistan’s government minister for religious minorities on Wednesday, the latest attack on a high-profile Pakistani figure who had urged reforming harsh blasphemy laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam.

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.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing, saying the minister had been “punished” for being a blasphemer.

Witnesses said the attackers scattered leaflets signed by “The Qaeda and the Taliban of Punjab” at the attack scene, which read: “This is the punishment of this cursed man.”

Taliban militants had called for Bhatti’s death because of his attempts to amend the blasphemy law.

“He was a blasphemer like Salman Taseer,” spokesman Sajjad Mohmand said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Gulam Rahim was coming from a nearby market when he saw Bhatti’s car drive out of his house. Three men standing nearby with guns suddenly began firing at the vehicle, a dark-colored Toyota.

Two of the men opened the door and tried to pull Bhatti out, Rahim said, while a third man fired his Kalashnikov rifle repeatedly into the car. The three gunmen then sped away in a white Suzuki Mehran car, said Rahim who took shelter behind a tree.

Pakistani TV channels showed Bhatti’s vehicle afterward, its windows shattered with bullet holes all over. It was not immediately clear why Bhatti, a member of the ruling Pakistani People’s Party, did not have bodyguards with him.

After Salman Taseer’s assassination, Bhatti said he was also receiving death threats, telling AFP that he was “the highest target right now”.

But he had insisted that he would work as usual.

“I’m not talking about special security arrangements. We need to stand against these forces of terrorism because they’re terrorising the country,” Bhatti said at the time.

“I cannot trust on security…. I believe that protection can come only from heaven, so these bodyguards can’t save you.”

Pakistani government leaders condemned the attack.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited the hospital and offered condolences to Bhatti’s grieving relatives.

“Such acts will not deter the government’s resolve to fight terrorism and extremism,” he said, adding that the killers would not go unpunished.

“This is concerted campaign to slaughter every liberal, progressive and humanist voice in Pakistan,” said Farahnaz Ispahani, an aide to President Asif Ali Zardari. “The time has come for the federal government and provincial governments to speak out and to take a strong stand against these murderers to save the very essence of Pakistan.”

Bhatti’s friend Robinson Asghar said the slain minister had received threats following the death of the Punjab governor. Asghar said he had asked Bhatti to leave Pakistan for a while because of the threats, but that Bhatti had refused.

Pakistan’s information minister, Firdous Ashiq Awan, said Bhatti had played a key role in promoting interfaith harmony, and he was a great asset.

“We are sad over his tragic death,” she said, adding that the government would investigate why he did not have a security escort.

67 comments posted

Comment Pages: « 9 8 7 [6] 5 4 3 2 1 » Show All

  1. Zaheer says:
    March 3rd, 2011 10:39 am

    It is a sad sad day for all of us. May Shahbaz Bhatti’s soul rest in peace.

    P.S… Thank you Adil for speaking up when so many remain silent (and despite past threats). You are a courageous man and this website gives us all hope that our conscience has not yet died fully.

  2. MQ says:
    March 3rd, 2011 10:28 am

    خزاں کیا، فصل گل کہتے ہیں کس کو، کوئی موسم ہو
    وہی ہم ہیں، قفس ہے، اور ماتم بال و پر کا ہے
    Ghalib

    What autumn, what spring, whatever the season
    We live on caged, lamenting our freedom to fly

  3. Meengla says:
    March 3rd, 2011 8:43 am

    So George Fulton–the pride of Pakistani tolerance. A white-man living in peace inside Pakistan who projected Pakistan’s tolerant image is leaving Pakistan.
    I’d say a good-call. Better leave before its too late. Already some bloggers are calling him a ‘Two Faced CIA’ agent. It is a slippery slope for him. Slick like a guillotine’s fall.

    I am going to post his full article.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/125853/george-ka-khuda-hafiz–i/

    ————–Quoted Part Begins————–
    For the past nine years, I have been in a dysfunctional relationship. My liaison started somewhat unexpectedly, quickly becoming an all-consuming passionate love affair. My partner reciprocated strongly, bestowing deep affection and adoration upon me. Blinded by love, I was naive to her failings. Yes, at times she was self-destructive, irrational and grossly irresponsible, but I hoped by appealing to her nature’s better angles she could change. Instead, as the years progressed, and, supported by her ‘friends’ in the media, she corroded, simultaneously displaying signs of megalomania and paranoia. Once the relationship turned abusive and I feared for my life, I decide to call it quits. Today, the divorce comes through. Her name is Pakistan. And today, I am leaving her for good.
    This was not a difficult decision to make. In fact, I didn’t make the decision. It was made for me. You do not chart your own destiny in Pakistan; Pakistan charts it for you. It’s emigration by a thousand news stories. I am aware that bemoaning the state of Pakistan as a final shot appears churlish and arrogant. After all, I have the luxury to leave — many others do not. Nor do I want to discredit the tireless work of the thousands who remain to improve the lives of millions of Pakistanis. They are better men and women than I. Pakistan has also given me so much over the years. It was Pakistan who introduced me to the love of my life. And it was upon her manicured lawns that we married, and upon her reclaimed soil that we set up our first home. She brought the love of a new family and new friends into my life. And it was Pakistan that witnessed the birth of my son, Faiz — named after one of her greatest sons.
    She embraced me like no other gora post-9/11. I appeared in a documentary/reality series titled “George Ka Pakistan”. It allowed me to explore the country. I ploughed fields in the Punjab, built Kalashnikovs in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (probably couldn’t do that now), and mended fishing boats in Balochistan. The culmination of the series saw the then prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, confer Pakistani citizenship upon me, after the viewing public voted overwhelmingly to make me one of them. I was their George. Fame and affection followed.
    But that love was conditional. Conditional upon me playing the role cast — the naïve gora. The moment I abandoned the Uncle Tom persona and questioned the defined establishment narratives — whether through my television work or columns — excommunication began. No longer a Pakistani in the eyes of others, my citizenship evidently was not equitable to others.
    So, as I depart, I could go with my reputation tarnished, but still largely intact. Or I could leave you with some final words of honesty. Well, true love values honesty far more than a feel-good legacy. So here goes.
    Pakistan, you are on a precipice. A wafer-thin sliver is all that stands between you and becoming a failed state. A state that was the culmination of a search for a ‘Muslim space’ by the wealthy Muslims of Northern India has ended up, as MJ Akbar recently pointed out, becoming “one of the most violent nations on earth, not because Hindus were killing Muslims but because Muslims were killings Muslims”.
    The assassination of Salmaan Taseer saw not only the death of a man but also represented for me the death of hope in Pakistan. I did not mourn Taseer’s death. I did not know the man. But I mourned what he represented — the death of liberal Pakistan. The governor’s murder reminded us how far the extremist cancer has spread in our society. A cancer in which I saw colleagues and friends on Facebook celebrate his murder. A man murdered for standing up for the most vulnerable in our society — a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. He committed no crime. Instead, he questioned the validity of a man-made law — a law created by the British — that was being used as a tool of repression.
    In death, the governor was shunned, unlike his killer, who was praised, garlanded and lionised for shooting Taseer in the back. Mumtaz Qadri became a hero overnight. But Qadri is not just a man — he’s a mindset, as eloquently put by Fifi Haroon. Fascism with an Islamic face is no longer a political or an economic problem in Pakistan, it’s now become a cultural issue. Extremism permeates all strata and socio-economic groups within society. Violent extremists may still make up a minority but extremism now enjoys popular support. As for the dwindling moderates and liberals, they are scared.
    Pakistan does not require a secret police, we are in the process of turning upon ourselves. But then what do you expect when your military/intelligence nexus — and their jihadi proxies — have used religious bigotry as a tool of both foreign and domestic policy. It is ironic that the one institution that was designed to protect the idea of Pakistan is the catalyst for its cannibalisation. Christians, Ahmadis, Shias and Barelvis have all been attacked in the past year. Who will be next? Groups once funded and supported by the state have carried out many of these attacks. And many jihadi groups still remain in cahoots with the agencies.
    So as I leave Pakistan, I leave her with a sense of melancholy. Personally, for all my early wide-eyed excitement and love for the country and its people, Pakistan has made me cynical, disillusioned and bitter over time. I came here with high hopes, adopting the country, its people and the language. I did find redemption here — but no longer.
    Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2011.

  4. HMD says:
    March 3rd, 2011 7:41 am

    Very sad indeed. He was a very brave man.
    Mr. Bhatti should be posthumously awarded the highest honors for bravery in Pakistan — he knew the dangers, and what was coming his way. That didn’t stop him from preaching tolerance and respect for justice.
    Pakistan is losing all the good and brave ones. All who will be left in the end will either be poor with no means of escape or the ones who rightly deserve culling.

  5. Eidee Man says:
    March 3rd, 2011 7:13 am

    Adil,

    when you started this blog, did you in your wildest imagination think that you will be writing this many obituaries?

    Sad.

  6. Kafir Per Pakistani Law says:
    March 3rd, 2011 6:21 am

    CHICKENS ARE COMING HOME TO ROOST.

    From Dawn News Media Gallery:
    “Almost 100 people, including the famous writer H.M Naqvi and Human Rights Minister Nadia Gabol, gathered chanting, “This is terrorism, not Islam,” holding signs that stated, “Murderers are not Muslims,” ……..”

    NOW THERE ARE MORE KAFIRS…..WELCOME TO THE CLUB OF “KAFIRS”
    MURDERERS OF SHAHBAZ BHATTI ARE DECLARED “KAFIR” BY OTHER PAKISTANI MUSLIMS…..
    I wonder where were writer H.M Naqvi and Human Rights Minister Nadia Gabol, when their beloved hero Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto declared me Kafir in Pakistani Supreme Law book??????

    Heheheheheheheh……..

    Personal Disclosure:
    I hold belief that:
    1-There is no God but Allah (SWT) and Muhammad (SAWS) WAS HIS LAST AND GREATEST PROPHET.
    2-No new or old prophet can come after Rasul Allah SAWS.
    3-I consider all reciters of Kalima-Shahada as Muslims.
    4-I do NOT belong to Qadiani organization headed by their Khalifa residing in England, that holds belief that thousands of prophets can come after Rasul Allah SAWS (nauzubilah), but they will only come in their Qadiani organization.

  7. Eidee Man says:
    March 3rd, 2011 6:06 am

    Adil, you are right. We should all be ashamed at what we have bred around us; especially those of us who have had the privilege of a good education. We are now definitively, a society that is rotten to the core; we have collectively ceded the last bit of moral ground. We are a country where the most wealthy crook is the president, where religious fanatics are not answerable to anyone, where industrialists evade taxes, and where feudal lords abuse peasants.

    However, these problems are acknowledged by every Pakistani citizen. What is not acknowledged nearly enough, is the most dangerous group in Pakistan, the military. What has this military done? It has usurped power, waged unprovoked war on its neighbors, hanged a democratically elected leader, excised the most populous province by unleashing genocide on the people it was supposedly protecting, created sham governments only to collapse them later, etc etc. Worst of all, this military sowed the seeds of radicalism, extremism, and terrorism.

  8. Rasheed says:
    March 3rd, 2011 5:55 am

    It is narrated that once the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was resting under a tree and fell asleep. Upon waking up, he found an enemy standing by him with a drawn sword , who asked the Prophet (PBUH): Who will save you from me now [as if in a "gotcha" moment].

    He (PBUH) calmly replied: My Allah, a reply that dumbfounded the enemy, who began to shake after seeing such confidence and quickness of mind to the extent that in his nervousness he dropped his sword, which Muhammad (PBUH) quickly picked up and asked his attacker: Who will save YOU now from me?

    The nervous attacker foolishly said: only you can save me, to which the Prophet (PBUH) told him how foolish he was to not seek shelter with Allah even after an example shown to him right there. He was let go unharmed, but the overwhelmed attacker accepted Islam.

    Compare that kindness with todays brutality by hell-bound wolves in sheep’s clothing, who claim to be followers of the greatest man ever.

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