News / Asia

Pakistanis Mourn Murdered Minister

Pakistani Christians rally against the killing of Catholic minister Shahbaz Bhatti in Multan, Pakistan, March 3, 2011.
Pakistani Christians rally against the killing of Catholic minister Shahbaz Bhatti in Multan, Pakistan, March 3, 2011.

Minority Christians and civil rights activists have taken to the streets throughout Pakistan to protest the assassination of the country's only Christian member of the federal Cabinet.  Minister of Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was gunned down Wednesday, after challenging Pakistan's blasphemy law.

Pakistani investigators have issued sketches of suspected attackers but have not reported any progress a day after gunmen opened fire on Minister of Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti near his residence in Islamabad.

Militants linked to Taliban and al-Qaida extremists have claimed responsibility, saying they killed the politician for opposing Pakistan's blasphemy law. He has become the second high-profile official killed this year for supporting reforms to the controversial legislation which carries the death penalty for insulting Islam.

Two months ago, the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was shot dead by one of his official police guards who said he killed Taseer for criticizing the blasphemy law.

Bhatti's assassination on Wednesday drew condemnation from both Pakistani and international leaders. Members of the country's minority Christian community joined by civil rights activists are staging protest rallies around the country to demand justice.

During a protest in Islamabad Thursday, demonstrators criticized the government for failing to protect Bhatti, who had been receiving death threats for opposing the blasphemy law.

"It's a matter of shame and it's a matter of extreme sorrow for every Pakistani Muslim today," said Ghazala Minnallah, a law teacher by profession, who was part of the rally. "Our heads are bowed in shame because we are so helpless and we cannot do anything about it."

She said that the government has failed to protect its citizens and urged Islamic clerics in the country to help defuse religious extremism.

"They are the only people who can try and bring some sanity in this madness because no one is going to listen to you or me or to the government," she said. "Yes, people will listen to religious leaders when they tell the people that this not Islam. So it is their responsibility to come out and to try and save this country from further anarchy because that is where we are heading."

Human rights activist Rehana Hashmi says that religious extremists are using violence to silence critics of laws that discriminate against non-Muslims and women in Pakistan.

"We are all determined that this voice is not silenced," said Hashmi. "There will be many more voices [raised] against these discriminatory laws and all discriminatory behaviors."

On Thursday, lawmakers representing Pakistani minorities in parliament staged a symbolic walkout during a meeting of the National Assembly. They demanded the government make all possible efforts to bring Bhatti's killers to justice.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani declared three days of official mourning, while vowing his government will arrest and punish the culprits.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs