KARACHI: Britain, United Nations, India, European Union and United States have strongly condemned the assassination on Wednesday of Catholic Pakistani government minister Shahbaz Bhatti.
Bhatti was shot at least eight times, police said, in a daylight attack in Islamabad that came two months after the slaying of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer.
US President Barack Obama said that the killers of Bhutti must be brought to justice and that he was saddened by the “horrific” assassination.
“I am deeply saddened by the assassination of Pakistan's Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti today in Islamabad, and condemn in the strongest possible terms this horrific act of violence,” Obama said.
“We offer our profound condolences to his family, loved ones and all who knew and worked with him,” Obama said in a written statement.
“Those who committed this crime should be brought to justice, and those who share Mr. Bhatti's vision of tolerance and religious freedom must be able to live free from fear.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was “shocked and outraged” by the slaying of Bhatti. Senator John Kerry also condemned the murder as a “particularly chilling” terrorist attack.
INDIA India joined the international community in condemning the assassination, calling it a “dastardly crime”.
“We convey our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, the people and the government of Pakistan on the tragic assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.
“In this difficult hour, our prayers and thoughts are with the bereaved family and the people of Pakistan,” the statement added.
EUROPEAN UNION EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton urged Pakistan to ensure justice after gunmen assassinated Bhatti because he wanted to reform an anti-blasphemy law.
Expressing her “great sadness,” English baroness Ashton said: “I strongly condemn the murder of a member of the government who was well known for his defence of the principles of equality and human rights which are enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan.
“I am also deeply concerned about the climate of intolerance and violence linked to the debate on the controversial blasphemy laws.
BRITAIN British Prime Minister David Cameron said the murder was “absolutely brutal and unacceptable”.
“It was absolutely shocking news,” Cameron told the House of Commons.
Cameron said the minister’s murder was “absolutely brutal and unacceptable, and it shows what a huge problem we have in our world with intolerance”.
Earlier, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the worldwide Anglican church, expressed his shock at the murder and urged Pakistan to protect minorities.
UNITED NATIONS United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said that Pakistan was poisoned by extremism and urged the country to reform its blasphemy laws.
“These murders are a tragedy for Pakistan and those who envision a future for the country centred on human rights,” a statement from the South African former International Criminal Court judge said.
“I hope the government of Pakistan will not only hold the killers to account, but reflect on how it can more effectively confront the extremism which is poisoning Pakistani society,”she said.