The Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a joint resolution on Friday to condemn the assassination of Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti. Paying tribute to his services, lawmakers termed the incident a major conspiracy to defame Pakistan.
Bhatti’s funeral ceremony took place at Islamabad’s Fatima Church on Friday.
The resolution was jointly moved by Minister for Power Shazia Marri, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) minorities MPA Pitanbar Sewani, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s (PML-F) Nusrat Saher Abbasi and Khwaja Izharul Hassan of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
“The assembly strongly condemns the assassination of Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, a man of courage and a symbol of equality, [he was] committed to the ideals of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, [we] recognise his assassination as yet another attack on the peace and progress of Pakistan; and [we] express [our] deepest condolences to the bereaved family and to the people of Pakistan,” the resolution read.
Marri said that minorities had been playing a major role in the development of the country and their services in health and education sectors must be applauded. “This joint resolution is a message for the forces that we are all united against any kind of discrimination.”
Meanwhile, Sewani said that terrorism would not deter them from safeguarding the rights of minorities. “We are sons of the soil and we will not migrate anywhere. We will defeat the terrorists,” he said.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Shaharyar Mahar said there was a dire need to investigate different aspects of the incident.
“Newspapers had run stories in January that there were serious threats to ministers, but despite Mr Bhatti’s repeated requests, the government did not provide him a bullet-proof vehicle,” he said. Deputy Speaker Shahla Raza interrupted him and asked him not to criticise the government but talk on the resolution. But Mahar, continued, “People should know what exactly happened.”
Dr Dayaram Esrani, the provincial minister for wildlife, said that terrorists were working against the “true spirit” of Islam, which teaches co-existence and tolerance. He is the only Hindu lawmaker in Pakistan who had been given an election ticket for a general seat. “I received 50,000 votes and 97 per cent of my voters were Muslim,” he told the house.
Minister for Local Government Agha Siraj Durrani said that Shahbaz Bhatti was a human-rights activist. During President Zardari’s recent visit to the United States, Bhatti was with him and they both held meetings with US President Obama.
Earlier on the point of order, PPP MPA Aisha Khoso raised the issue of a girl in Jacobabad whose nose was cut off. “Why does the government not take any action against people who commit such crimes? This is the second girl in the area who has faced such a fate.”
Law minister Ayaz Soomro assured the MPA that the culprits had already been arrested. “I will present a report on the case during the ongoing assembly session,” he said.
Shahla Raza, who was chairing the session, announced the governor’s assent to the Benazir Bhutto University, Benazirabad (Amendment Bill) 2011.
The session was adjourned till Monday.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2011.
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