Profile: Shahbaz Bhatti

Published March 2, 2011

Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated on Wednesday during an attack on his vehicle in Islamabad. – AFP

Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated on Wednesday during an attack on his vehicle in Islamabad.

Shahbaz Bhatti, son of Jacob Bhatti was born on September 9,1968 in Lahore, Punjab.

Bhatti was the first Christian parliamentarian who was offered and took oath as Federal Minister of Minorities Affairs in Pakistan. His predecessors had been offered only a state minister position

Bhatti was one of the founding members of the organisation ‘All Pakistan Minorities Alliance’ (APMA) in 1985 and was considered a representative of the religious minorities in Pakistan.

Bhatti joined Pakistani People’s Party (PPP) in 2002. As a political leader, he had continuously asked minority groups to fight for their rights through the system instead of using violence. He was considered great admirer of Pakistan’s founder Jinnah and a true patriot.

As federal minister, Bhatti took serious steps to ensure the safety, rights and empower religious minorities while in office:

•    In 2002, he banned the sale of properties belonging to minorities while law enforcement authorities took action against them •    Supported the revisions of the Blasphemy Law by the end of 2010 •    Supported repeal for discriminatory laws that affected minority groups •    Launched national campaign to promote interfaith and harmony through seminars, awareness groups, and workshop. •    Had planned to introduce legislation that would ban hate speech and hate literature •    Proposed to the Ministry of Education to introduce comparative religion courses as a curriculum subject •    A five per cent quota was given for all government jobs to minorities •    Four reserved senate seats •    Religious holidays and festivals are recognized by the government and respected. •    Made August 11th Minority Day in Pakistan •    Prayer room for non-Muslims in the prison system •    A 24-hour crisis hotline to report acts of violence against minorities •    A campaign to protect religious artifacts and sites that belong to minorities

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