09/10/2011, 00.00
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Paul Bhatti: Muslims and minorities, innocent victims of extremism Pakistan

by Jibran Khan
The Special Adviser to the Prime Minister explains the Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust’s work, a "platform that provides shelter, assistance and protection." His political commitment is not "an option", but a choice to honour the memory of his brother murdered by fundamentalists. No comment, but words of thanks to investigators following the murder case.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) - In Pakistan, no one can claim to be safe because violence affects all citizens, Muslims and religious minorities. For this reason, the Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust – which has recently received official recognition - will be a "platform that provides shelter, assistance and protection" for all victims of violence. This is what Paul Bhatti, brother of the Catholic Minister for Minorities, who was murdered on March 2 last by an armed Islamic extremist for his fight against the blasphemy laws, has told AsiaNews, . And on the investigation into the murder he asks people to "wait for the final results" of the investigators, whom he thanks "for their efforts" to search for the truth.

Paul Bhatti, currently special adviser to the Prime Minister for Minorities, immediately made it clear that his political commitment to Pakistan, a nation to which he returned after many years in Italy, "was not an option" but a choice to be made looking Shahbaz’s example. "His death has been a great loss not only for myself – he tells AsiaNews - but for the whole nation." His Christian faith and political commitment, he said, led him to accept the assignment, because "if one of my brothers or sisters is in trouble, how can I sit by and watch?".

With regard to the newly formed Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust (see AsiaNewsShahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust: equality and justice for Pakistan’s minorities), the Special Adviser to the Prime Minister said that it is "a non-party platform" in order to continue the struggle of Catholic minister for minorities, to promote the values of humanity and harmony between religions. He confirms that "no one can be considered safe" in Pakistan, where extremist attacks kill dozens of people, targeted assassinations continue to target politicians, activists, religious leaders. The Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust contributes to the fight against violence, triggering a platform that provides assistance and protection to victims 24/7. The experts of the foundation also offer legal protection and legal advice.

Among the measures to protect minorities being considered by the legislature, there is also the Protection Bill, which provides in particular Hindus, Sikhs and Parsis with the legal recognition of marriage. On the other hand there is also humanitarian aid to Hindus and Sikhs in the event of natural disasters, from which so far, they have been excluded. Pakistan’s Federal Government has clamped down on foreign NGOs and groups seeking to bring relief to the population. Ironically, this censorship has left the field open to Islamic extremists in Pakistan - some of which are banned – who can operate freely and relegate minorities to the fringe.

Fr. Ejaz Anwar, of the Diocese of Multan, notes that "denying humanitarian aid to religious minorities is unacceptable" and that it is the government's responsibility "to respond immediately and put an end to discrimination."
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See also
"We are optimistic," says Paul Bhatti as Rimsha Masih's bail hearing postponed to Friday
APMA "unanimously" expels Christian MP Pervaiz Rafique
Pakistani Christians and civil society celebrate Shahbaz Bhatti as more violence strikes Islamabad
Bhatti murder: no progress in investigation. Disappointment of his brother Paul
Shahbaz Bhatti, failure and rebirth


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