Clinton meets Pakistan minorities minister

Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti.-File photo

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Pakistan's minister for minority affairs in a show of support for religious freedom as tensions mount in the country, he said Friday.

Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who has faced a wave of threats, said he spoke with Clinton on Thursday and explained his initiative to set up local committees around Pakistan to promote inter-faith harmony.

“She was very supportive of religious freedom,” Bhatti told AFP.

“She said religious freedom was one of the important areas on which US foreign policy is based and they will continue to pursue this issue in their dialogues, not only with Pakistan but around the globe,” he said.

Bhatti, a Roman Catholic given a full-fledged cabinet position under President Asif Ali Zardari, said he has been receiving death threats “day and night” and that his family was also at risk.

“I am ready to lay down my life for the principles I believe in. Terrorists and threats cannot hinder my cause to stand for justice and equality and religious freedom,” he said.

Bhatti is working on a project to form local committees that would promote inter-faith harmony and sort out disputes.

“This is the way to win the hearts and minds of the people,” he said.

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