Don't link minister's murder to blasphemy: Pakistani UN delegate

Published: March 4, 2011

There is widespread international condemnation of Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws. PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA: Pakistan on Thursday called on other countries not to link Wednesday’s killing of its only Christian government minister to the wider issue of blasphemy.

Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who had called for changes to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, was shot in broad daylight in Islamabad. Taliban militants said they had assassinated him as a punishment for blasphemy.

“We believe it would not be helpful to link the highly regrettable killing squarely in the context of defamation (of religion) and blasphemy,” Pakistani delegate Asim Ahmad said in a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In the rights council, Pakistan speaks for the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic States (OIC) which is campaigning hard with support from African states and others like Russia and Cuba for what critics dub “an international blasphemy law”.

Ahmad said freedom of speech could not justify defamation and blasphemy. “It is important to prevent the deliberate campaign of defamation of Islam and its Prophet,” he said.

The governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was also assassinated in January. The killer, one of his official bodyguards, said he shot him because he was calling for reform of the blasphemy law.

Taseer’s killing was welcomed by some in Pakistan, including by judges and lawyers and media commentators. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Wednesday this showed Pakistan was “poisoned by extremism.”

Pillay also called for changes in the blasphemy law and appealed to the Pakistani government to take more effective action against extremism.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • ba ha
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:14PM

    ? is he all there?Recommend

  • Usman Saeed
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:15PM

    What a disgusting lie! It was related to blasphemy, period.Recommend

  • Mar 4, 2011 - 12:30PM

    Well said. 100 %agreed!

    And also its wrong to link this with sulman taseer murder.

    TTP is the killer of thousands Pakistani(Muslims &non muslims)Recommend

  • MK
    Mar 4, 2011 - 1:53PM

    As per some reports Shahbaz Bhatti was a strong supporter of conversion of Muslims into Christianity in Punjab. Did any Muslim protest over this issue? Instead all Muslims are condemning killing of a person who supported thousands of Muslims’ conversion referred as MURTID.Recommend

  • HH
    Mar 4, 2011 - 3:18PM

    It is the right of every human to chose her/his religion.The people Shahbaz Bhatti might have tried to convert have full responsibility of thier own actions.If shahbaz Bhatti tried to convert them and they did convert, this choice was not foced upon them.So you cannot blame him for trying, this just shows that those Muslims had a weak faith in their religion.

    It is extremely shameful that the person representing minorities in Pakistan was killed as Islam preaches tolerance, not violence or use of force to impose your opinions on others.Recommend

  • Usman Saeed
    Mar 4, 2011 - 3:37PM

    @ MK I have never heard such a thing and even if this was true he wasn’t threatening to kill them. What an utterly preposterous lie, given that Christians have difficulty practicing their religion in Pakistan, let alone convert other Muslims to their faith. I am 100% sure its a blatant lie, LIE!Recommend

  • Mulla Toofhan
    Mar 4, 2011 - 5:22PM

    Self denial would not help us get rid of this problem. The Rulers have lied to the nation all along the history of Pakistan and now we are going International. You are fooling yourselfs, not Pakistan, not the international community, not the World. I guess living in Fools paradise is the Govt policy.Recommend

  • Tilsim
    Mar 4, 2011 - 5:55PM

    The lie is indeed disgusting. What can one expect from politicians who use Islam as a vehicle to their earthly greed for power. Pakistanis need to wake up and reject Islamists.Recommend

  • M M Malik
    Mar 4, 2011 - 7:34PM

    To accept the truth gives strength to deal with it. The truth is that Bhatti’s calls for reforming the blasphemy law was the reason for his murder. Recommend

  • Ravi
    Mar 4, 2011 - 7:35PM

    these guys are on auto destruction modeRecommend

  • sam
    Mar 4, 2011 - 9:11PM

    Not happy with foisting your own country with a barbaric, medieval-era, blasphemy law, you guys now want to impose the same on the rest of the world? No, thanks! Please spare us.

    The reputation of the almighty Allah doesn’t need to be saved from non-Muslims like us. It needs to be saved from the likes of you who are putting his name to shame on a daily basis through your intolerant and violent actions and views.Recommend

  • Khan
    Mar 4, 2011 - 9:18PM

    He should be sacked and sent back to pak.Recommend

  • MKB
    Mar 5, 2011 - 12:31AM

    Whether Bhatti was trying to convert Muslims or not, I am not sure, since I have not heard this and so will not comment on this. However I count many Christians among my friends, and I have never heard any of them say that they have any problems in following their faith or worshipping in Pakistan. This killing was wrong but lets not make up stuff that isn’t true, just so that we can quote a non-existent wrong-doing and then speak out against it just to get some recognition. Lets keep things in perspective shall we?Recommend

  • InfiniteRegression
    Mar 5, 2011 - 2:41AM

    Mr. MK:
    “As per some reports Shahbaz Bhatti was a strong supporter of conversion of Muslims into Christianity in Punjab. Did any Muslim protest over this issue? Instead all Muslims are condemning killing of a person who supported thousands of Muslims’ conversion referred as MURTID.”

    You yourself are the descendants of Hindus who converted to Islam. Thank your stars that there are no blasphemy laws in Hinduism.Recommend

  • rofl
    Mar 5, 2011 - 4:20PM

    Actually Mr.Bhatti is killed because of the unrest in Kashmir.Recommend

  • Arif Khan
    Mar 6, 2011 - 1:14AM

    As for MK and the statement about Murtids. Firstly I cannot imagine
    Muslims in Pakistan converting to any religion though the temptation may
    actually be great given the actions of fellow Muslims these days. In a country
    with 95 to 97% Muslims (many extremists) who would be crazy enough to
    convert to Christianity. In any case the onus is on those who get converted
    rather than those who try to convert others. Recommend

  • Mar 7, 2011 - 4:21AM

    Sounds like Pakistani delegate is also frightened of Mullahs.Recommend

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