7 March, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 02/28/2012
PAKISTAN
Paul Bhatti: minority social reawakening in the name of Shabbaz
by Dario Salvi
A year since the murder of Pakistan's Minority Affairs minister, his brother Paul talks about his legacy and work on behalf of Pakistani Christians. A new university and vocational school will open bearing his name. Masses and prayer vigils will be held on 2 March across Pakistan.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Persecuted religious minorities and communities saw in Shahbaz Bhatti a "leader willing to protect them", a "courageous and determined" politician who found in the "Christian faith" the strength to meet challenges. This is how Paul Bhatti remembers his brother, Minority Affairs minister, a Catholic, who was killed on 2 March 2011 by extremists.

A year after his death, AsiaNews has interviewed his brother who is perpetuating Shabbaz's political and spiritual legacy. As special adviser to Prime Minister Gilani on minority affairs, "I am trying to fill a void," Paul said. Initially, he took on the task with "concern" followed by awareness and determination.

Pakistan's various communities-Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc-are getting ready to honour Shabbaz's memory with Masses, a torchlight procession and prayer vigils on 2 March and with an important political and interfaith conference on 6 March, in the capital.

Here is the interview Paul Bhatti (pictured with Benedict XVI and the imam of Lahore) gave AsiaNews:

Paul Bhatti, what is Shabbaz's legacy?

My brother left a big void that I am trying to fill. People feel the lack of a leader, someone who can protect them. Minorities that they could on his protection. They knew that he would act in case of discrimination and injustice at the national and international level. He was a great presence and support. With his death, the community felt abandoned, rudderless. We have tried to pick up from where he left off to continue his mission. Personally, I am happy to do it. At the beginning, I did not think I could and I was very concerned. Now, concerns are slowly fading away and I am increasingly aware of the importance of this vocation.

A year later, is his memory still alive?

Yes. I feel it at all levels, political, social and institutional. He had a special personality. He was popular, not only among Christians but also among Muslims and Hindus. Wherever I go, people remember him fondly and sorely miss him. They talk about him as someone worthy of "honour and respect". For this reason, we have organised a series of events to honour his memory the best we can. On 2 March, Christian communities across Pakistan will celebrate Masses and prayers in the country's churches. In addition, on the morning of the anniversary, there will be a Mass, followed by a prayer on his tomb in his birthplace of Khushpur (Punjab). In the evening, there will be a torchlight procession and a prayer in Islamabad where he was killed. On 6 March, also in the capital, we have a conference with the participation of President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, cabinet ministers, foreign diplomats and important Christian, Muslim and Hindu religious dignitaries, as well as representatives of other religious minorities. I can confirm that the Muslim community will participate actively in celebrating Shabbaz.

There is still a lot of confusion in the investigation.

We believe that this act was the work of extremists and terrorist organisations. For years, Shahbaz had been threatened by organisations that have complex structures and professional killers hired to murder, who can terrorise judges so that they will not convict them. Benazir Bhutto's assassination is also unsolved and the real culprits are still at large. The issue is very complex, but we continue to work for peace in Pakistan and the protection of the oppressed.

What memories do you have of your brother?

I will always remember his serenity and tolerance even after many disappointments and acts of discrimination, his courage and determination, his tireless desire to work and his incredible energy. More specifically, I remember that the Christian faith was a source of strength and help in his mission. He had the capacity of convincing even the more stubborn person. For this reason, we set up a foundation that bears his name and carry on his ideals.

What objectives motivate the Shababz Bhatti Foundation?

We want to fight poverty, promote education and contribute to interfaith dialogue. For these initiatives, we have the support of certain organisations and associations. A vocational school bearing his name is in the works, so is a great university that will guarantee minority students access to education. It will be an opportunity for development and high-level education.

Why is education important?

The country can advance only through education. This is one of our ideals and goals. We are trying to launch Bangladesh-style micro-credits to help Christians and other communities start up small businesses and promote self-employment. For this reason, we call upon the international community to support our initiatives and contribute to education and development, economic growth and interfaith dialogue. We want to promote for man's dignity, and are asking for help from Christians around the world.

Finally, a thought about Asia Bibi. Shabbaz died a "martyr" for defending her . . .

We are waiting for the appeal ruling. The sooner it comes, the better. In the past, we have not been able to defend her, as we would have liked because of the anti-Bibi campaign promoted by extremists who are responsible for my brother's fate. For this reason, we have tried to defuse tensions working behind the scene in order to arrive at a sentence at the best moment. Our hope is that she will be released and expect all the protection the case deserves. Without too much fanfare or show, we want to work in silence.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
03/25/2011 PAKISTAN
Paul Bhatti, brother of the murdered minister is "special adviser" to Prime Minister on Minorities
03/02/2012 PAKISTAN
Shahbaz Bhatti, a witness for a nation where the minorities want equality, Mgr Coutts says
06/23/2011 PAKISTAN
Islamabad: first (odd) arrest for the murder of Catholic Shahbaz Bhatti
03/02/2011 PAKISTAN
Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistani minister who defended Asia Bibi, is assassinated
by Jibran Khan
12/14/2012 PAKISTAN
Dialogue with Islam to save hundreds of Asia Bibi, Paul Bhatti tells AsiaNews
by Dario Salvi

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.