ISLAMABAD: Born on September 9, 1968, to a Christian family in Punjab, Shahbaz Bhatti was the only non-Muslim minister in the Pakistan Peoples Party-led (PPP) coalition government.
Bhatti remained a strong critic of the misuse of blasphemy laws enacted by former military ruler General Ziaul Haq, knowing his stance might cost him his life.
The slain minister was one of the founding members of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) in 1985 and was a representative of the religious minorities in Pakistan. He joined the PPP in 2002. He tabled a bill in the National Assembly Secretariat in 2008 that called for the doubling of minority seats in the national and provincial assemblies, and proposed that seats also be allocated to minorities in the Senate.
After being inducted into the federal cabinet in November 2008, Bhatti said in his first statement: “I have devoted my life to the struggle for human equality, social justice, religious freedom, and to uplift and empower the religious minorities of Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2011.