The Muslim Times’ Editor for Pakistan
|By: Mehmal Sarfraz||Date: 2012-03-02||Place: Mumba|
Without tolerance, our world turns into hell” — Friedrich Durrenmatt.
A year ago on this day (March 2), Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated. His assassination took place less than two months after Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer was shot dead by his bodyguard. Both of them were ardent supporters of minority rights. Both of them were vocal about the country’s archaic blasphemy laws. Both of them received death threats as a result. These threats were as real in Mr Bhatti’s case as they were in Mr Taseer’s. But both men were principled and fearless. In the end, both of them met the same fate. They were assassinated by fanatic butchers.
In an interview with the BBC after Mr Taseer’s assassination, Shahbaz Bhatti said, “I was told that if I was to continue the campaign against the blasphemy law, I will be assassinated. I will be beheaded. But forces of violence, forces of extremism cannot harass me, cannot threaten me.” The debate on blasphemy laws slowly died down with Mr Taseer’s assassination. Mr Bhatti’s murder sealed the fate of this debate. Now people are afraid to raise this issue. Aasia Bibi, the innocent Christian woman accused of blasphemy and whose case was taken up by Taseer and Bhatti, is still in prison. Unfortunately, nobody in the corridors of power is now willing to raise their voice for Bibi’s release after what happened to Taseer and Bhatti.