Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
(The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK)
SHAHBAZ BHATTI: A TRIBUTE TO A BRAVE HEART
By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
Shahbaz Bhatti’s memorial meeting at the Pakistan High Commission (March 16) was a profoundly sad occasion for all to remember a person who laid down his life for a united and strong Pakistan.
This tribute to him is a humble acknowledgement – in solemn gratitude – of his selfless struggle for the high and noble ideals he so cherished. Those ideals have been a clarion call for every Pakistani to make his country – our country – a place where every citizen has equal rights without fear or favour.
Bhatti laid down his life at a time when he was most needed. In his official capacity, he represented the interests of Pakistan’s religious minorities. However, Bhatti also stood for the vision of Pakistan’s founding father, Quaid-e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, that in Pakistan all its citizens will enjoy equal rights, irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender. Its politics was to be characterised by pluralism, the rule of law, the freedom to practice all faiths and that religion will have nothing to do with the business of the state.
When I first heard about Shahbaz Bhatti’s assassination, there seemed to be nothing sensible to be said about it. Not yet another prediction about Pakistan’s growing instability, nor even an outpouring of anger of the kind that followed the killing of Punjab governor Salman Taseer in the English-language media. The assassination of the Minorities Minister did not appear to portend anything beyond the actual tragedy of his death. And nor could anyone say it came as a surprise. A loss of words, then. A painful punctuation mark.
Cafe Pyala has now articulated far better than I could what went through my mind when I first heard about the assassination.