Friday, March 4, 2011

Protests across city against Bhatti’s murder

Several human rights activists, members of the civil society and a large number of Christian citizens held protest rallies across the city, on Thursday, over the assassination of the Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti.

The rallies were conducted in areas from the Lahore Press Club to The Mall. The protesters, while condemning the assassination, demanded the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government to “not only curb terrorism but also to take a clear stand on blasphemy law in the country as per their promise in the party manifesto.”

The groups and NGOs that participated in the activity included All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), Citizens for Democracy (CFD), Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE), Christian Helpline, Pakistan Qaumi Masehi Party (Haqeeqi group), Maseehi Millat Party, Sweeper’s Union, Jharo Kash Mazdoor Union, Community Development Initiative, National Commission for Justice and Peace, Christian Lawyers Association, Punjab Bar Council, Punjab Teachers Association.

The number of protesters had increased as compared to the amount that protested on the day of the assassination.

The protesters were of the view that the cold-blooded and barbaric murder of Shahbaz Bhatti is “a murder of tolerance, diversity and respect for human rights in the country,” and said, “The freedom given to extremists was the root cause of all such heinous crimes.”

They demanded for the introduction and implementation of strict laws against communalism, spreading of hatred on the basis of colour, creed and caste. The protesters said, “The country would go further into chaos if the government did not take appropriate measures to curb extremism.” Separately, the citizens were of the view that “the government should protect all the civil society members and personalities who are struggling against the blasphemy law in the country,” adding, “It should have woken up to the challenge immediately after the assassination of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer”.

Meanwhile, the protests also caused massive traffic jams in the areas where they were being staged, and the traffic cops kept diverting the vehicles to alternate routes in order to avoid any untoward incident. The Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, was killed on March 2 (Wednesday) when some unidentified terrorists sprayed bullets on his vehicle in sector I-8/3 area of Islamabad.

CHRE chief, Samson Salamat, and the PPP minority wing leader, Napolean Qayoom, while talking to Daily Times on the issue, said, “The non-Muslim communities, especially the Christians, have completely lost their faith in the government of Pakistan”.

They said that the Christians had actively participated in the creation of Pakistan and had offered unconditional support to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who promised equal rights for all Pakistanis. They added, “No incident of religious extremism or suppressing communal rights took place in the country before the introduction of the blasphemy law by the military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq.”

They said that civil society will continue its struggle against the discriminatory law and demanded President Asif Ali Zardari to take a strict action against those who promoted hatred in the name of religion. They concluded on the note that the citizens would not let the blood of the martyred PPP leaders Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti go waste and they want the party to either announce the amendment of the blasphemy law as promised in their manifesto or openly withdraw from their stand.

Nowshera blast:,10 dead

At least 10 people have been killed and several injured in a blast in a mosque inside shrine of Akhond Panjo Baba shrine soon after Friday prayers, Geo News reported quoting police sources.

Protest against Bhatti's murder held

Three-day mourning is being observed throughout Pakistan over the assassination of Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti.
The case has been lodged at I/9 police station Islamabad while police have issued the sketch of a attacker.
According to police records, four gunmen attacked the minister.
On the other hand, Christian community along with women and children staged a protest in front of National Press Club Islamabad, against the killing of Bhatti.
Protesters demanded the government to chase the culprits immediately.
Bhatti was killed last day outside his mother's house situated in sector I-8/3. Two political figure, Punjab governor Salman Taseer and Bhatti, have been targeted in less than two months in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.
The law enforcement agencies were already on high alert and a heavy contingent of police have been deployed to ensure the protest rallies bring carried out by the Christian community.

The targeting of college girls ......Bombers’ madness

Bombers’ madness
The targeting of college girls who had organised a function within the premises of their all-girls institute by militants in Mardan, injuring some 40 students and killing one, is another evidence of the insanity that still prevails in the North. The militants who hurled grenades into the premises as the function – a farewell for leaving students – was being staged, clearly wished to create a sense of terror. The following day a massive planted bomb of perhaps 600kg was detonated in Hangu outside a police station killing at least nine and injuring 30. This was swiftly followed by the death of six more innocent people in Khyber Agency. Within twenty-four hours almost 100 people are dead and injured. Terror is a powerful weapon and it has been used repeatedly by the Taliban who seem able to continue their acts of murder despite the many claims we have heard from the government that they had been tamed.

This quite obviously is not the case at all. At frequent intervals we hear accounts of suicide bombings, attacks on schools or the killing of security personnel. We wonder when the chapter of death will be brought to a close. Too many lives have already been lost; those who have no role in the current conflict have been among those killed. The young girl felled in Mardan is the latest to join their ranks. The casualties in Hangu were mostly civilians although the target was obviously the police. Even now we can only wonder when the next outrage will occur – and if anything can be done to stop it. Attacks such as these create a sense of hopelessness and despondency. The belief that had existed for some months that the militants had been defeated has long since faded away, and this can only leave all of us wondering what the future will hold or where the militants will strike next. They have already demonstrated many times that they have no humanity. The attacks in Mardan, Hangu and Khyber merely reinforce this perception.

Shahbaz Bhatti’s assassination..........A bloodstained flag

EDITORIAL: Daily Times

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks on Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti’s assassination echoed what every sane Pakistani feels. “I was shocked and outraged by the assassination...I think this was an attack not only on one man but on the values of tolerance and respect for people of all faiths and backgrounds that had been championed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan,” she said. On Wednesday, Pakistan lost Mr Bhatti to the extremist forces. In two months, we have lost a serving governor and a serving federal minister. This is certainly not the Pakistan our forefathers dreamt of. It has been hijacked by the very same forces that were once against the creation of this country. Mr Bhatti’s assassination has been condemned worldwide and has sent shockwaves everywhere, especially in Pakistan.

The reaction to Governor Taseer’s murder was shocking for another reason as most Pakistanis were either ambivalent or glorified his murderer, Mumtaz Qadri. But Mr Bhatti’s murder has put most of those voices on the defensive. The religious parties are not condoning Mr Bhatti’s murder like they did in Mr Taseer’s case but are blaming it on an “international conspiracy” to take the focus away from the Raymond Davis case. This is too far-fetched to be taken seriously. Instead of shifting the blame, all those who are drumming up this theory should take a good look around this ‘land of the pure’ and they will get to see the evidence of an inside hand themselves. The Punjab Taliban themselves claimed the responsibility for this callous attack on Mr Bhatti. In pamphlets left at the site of the murder, the ‘Taliban al Qaeda Punjab’ warned of sinister consequences for anyone who dared to raise their voice against the blasphemy laws.

It was surprising to see Punjab Chief Minister all riled up at Interior Minister Rehman Malik for ‘politicising’ the Punjabi Taliban issue and giving it a provincial angle. What Mr Sharif has obviously failed to understand is that Mr Malik is not fanning provincialism. The perpetrators themselves signed the pamphlets as such and later claimed responsibility as well. This is not the time for a tussle between the federal and Punjab government; it is time to stand united in order to root out the terrorist menace. All provinces and the federation have to pull together because the terrorists are now attacking political figures. It seems that the terrorists now have a hit list on the blasphemy issue. For once our politicians must rise above partisan politics and understand the gravity of the situation. The terrorists have the capability to inflict damage and pain by killing political leaders at will.

In another sad development, leading members of Pakistan’s Christian community have asked the Vatican not to give statements on their behalf. It shows the insecurity of our minorities who feel threatened that any international condemnation, especially that coming from the Vatican, might serve as fodder for the Islamist extremists who are baying for their blood in any case. The government needs to put its foot down and assure all minority communities that they are safe in Pakistan. This is as much their country as the Muslims’. President Zardari said, “We have to fight this mindset and defeat them. We will not be intimidated nor will we retreat.” Had the government stood up against the extremist forces earlier instead of trying to appease them, the terrorists would not have gained so much space. But as they say, better late than never. The government should now stand firm and challenge the extremist forces in order to defeat them. Our survival is on the line here. *