LAHORE, Pakistan: The human rights activists have paid homage to the decedent Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Clement Bhatti for his efforts for the protection of rights and interfaith harmony in Pakistan, 10 years after he was assassinated on March 2, 2011 in Islamabad.
They urged the government of Pakistan to take adequate measures to implement human rights, foster social cohesion, and curb extremism and terrorism.
The Chairperson of the Voice for Justice Joseph Jansen said that he has been an advocate of equality of rights and opportunities, and he has been determined to pursue justice, and has stood up against discrimination and extremism throughout his life.
Joseph Jansen lamented that the forces that attacked Shahbaz Bhatti have not been eliminated despite a National Plan of Action to counter-terrorism being in place.
The Chairperson Voice for Justice demanded that the misuse of blasphemy laws to justify killings and lynching in the name of religion must stop now, and the actors involved in making false accusations, and provoking people for mob violence must be brought to justice.
A human rights activist Ashiknaz Khokhar said that Shahbaz Bhatti has several achievements to his credit including; the representation of minorities in the Senate, reservation of 5% quota in public sector jobs, and designation of August 11, as national minorities day. He has left a legacy for religious, political, and social activists to follow in interfaith dialogue and protection of rights.
Asif Bastian said that Shahbaz Bhatti was an ambassador of interfaith harmony and human rights, and a symbol of the struggle for the rights of the downtrodden. He stood firm for what he believed in, and he will always be remembered as a voice for the voiceless, especially for the courageous efforts he made for the protection of minority rights in Pakistan.
Ilyas Samuel said that Shahbaz Bhatti’s poignant sacrifice for a cause leaves a leadership vacuum, which is hard to fill. However, it is encouraging that civil society is following his footprints, and making efforts to fulfill his mission of building Pakistan a just, peaceful and tolerant society where religious minorities are able to exercise equal rights.
Carol Noreen said that hoped that his sacrifice for the fight against rights and intolerance will awaken consciences, the courage, and commitment to protecting the religious freedom of all, in doing so, promote their equal dignity. He emphasized that people from diverse communities need to work together for the promotion of justice and peace.
Bishop Johnson Robert said that the most fitting way to honor Shahbaz Bhatti would be to redouble our efforts to help Pakistan pull back from the abyss, confront extremism in all its forms, and restore Jinnah’s vision for the country.