Today marks the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the then Pakistani Minister for Minorities. On March 2, 2011, Bhatti was gunned down in Islamabad by members of the Pakistani Taliban because of his opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and for championing the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman still on death row after being accused of blasphemy. Bhatti is still the only Christian cabinet minister in Pakistan’s history and his life and death left a huge mark on the lives of the Christian community in Pakistan.
3/2/2016 Pakistan (Christian Today) – Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistan minister for minorities murdered for his opposition to the country’s oppressive blasphemy law, should be declared a martyr by the Church, Catholics there say.
In Catholic practice the process for declaring martyrdom can begin five years after a person’s death. Bhatti was murdered on 2 March 2011 and local authorities have begun to collect evidence to support their claim.
Shamaun Alfred Gill, spokesperson for the All Pakistan Minority Alliance, the political party formed and led by Bhatti, told International Christian Concern: “A committee from the Vatican is reviewing Shahbaz Bhatti’s struggle for equal rights and gathering information on his murder. We are hoping that this outspoken hero of the nation will soon be given the official status of martyr by the Vatican for raising his voice for the voiceless in this country.”
Speaking at a ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the murder, the Archbishop of Karachi, Joseph Coutts, said: “He spoke with faith and demonstrated courage. Thanks to him the voice of Pakistan’s Christians was heard. He paved the way for us. He was a good Catholic and gave his life for his mission.”
He told Fides: “As Pakistani Christians we face numerous challenges every day. Many will have heard of the so-called blasphemy law and the emblematic case of Asia Bibi, an innocent Christian mother sentenced to death. Our daily mission is to bear witness to peace and to love where there is so much violence in this country torn apart by terrorism. As Christians our mission is love and love of Christ helps us not to lose hope.”