03/02/2011, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistani minister who defended Asia Bibi, is assassinated

by Jibran Khan
The attack took place this morning in Islamabad. An armed commando gunned down the Catholic minister in his car. Rushed to hospital he did not survive his wounds. Murder claimed by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

 

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - The Pakistani minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti was killed this morning by an armed commando. The attack was carried out in the I-8 / 3 neighbourhood by a group of masked men who ambushed the minister on the street. They pulled him out of his car and opened fire at point blank range before fleeing in a car.

The grandson of Shabhaz Bhatti was traveling with him when the attack took place. The terrorists continued to fire for about two minutes. There was no security guard with Bhatti when the attack occurred. The minister was immediately rushed to Shifa hospital, where, however, the doctors failed to save him. The killers left a note at the scene of the crime: "Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claims responsibility for the assassination of Bhatti for speaking out against the blasphemy law". Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan 'is an umbrella organization of various groups of Islamic militants.

Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, was recently confirmed in his post of Minister for Minorities in a government reshuffle. He boldly defended Asia Bibi, a Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy on the basis of false accusations. He belonged to the PPP, the progressive party in government. After the killing of Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab, who Islamic fundamentalists blamed for having defended Asia Bibi, Bhatti had become the radicals “top target”.

This is a concerted campaign to suppress all progressive, liberal and humanitarian voices in Pakistan, "said Farahnaz Ispahani, assistant to President Asif Ali Zardari. "It 's time for the national government and federal governments to speak out and take a firm stand against these murderers to save the very essence of Pakistan”.

Robinson Asghar a personal friend of Bhatti, relayed that the murdered minister had received threats after the assassination of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. Asghar said he had advised Bhatti to leave Pakistan for a period because of threats, but Bhatti had refused.

Information Minister, Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Bhatti played a key role in promoting inter-religious harmony, and was a great resource. "We are saddened by his tragic death", he said, adding that the government will investigate why he was without an armed escort.

 

 

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