Bhatti murder: Christian Lawyers Association speaks out

The protesters carried placards and banners bearing inscriptions demanding the early arrest of the murderer.

Rana Tanveer March 08, 2011
Bhatti murder: Christian Lawyers Association speaks out


Christian Lawyers Association in Pakistan (CLAP) held a protest rally condemning the assassination of minority affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti on Monday. Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Asma Jahangir also participated in the rally from the Lahore High Court (LHC) to the Punjab Assembly.

The protesters carried placards and banners bearing inscriptions demanding the early arrest of the murderer and for providing protection to minority communities. Nearly two dozen Christian lawyers participated in the rally along with civil society members and demanded that minority communities be provided with better security.

CLAP president Akbar Munawar Durrani told The Express Tribune that Ms Jahangir had had to leave the protest in the middle to attend a her case fixed before the Supreme Court (SC). Durrani said that Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) president Asghar Ali Gill was also appearing before the LHC and had been unable to attend the rally.

“Usually the LHCBA and Lahore Bar Association (LBA) show their support by boycotting court proceedings. Their absence shows disregard for the Christian community,” said a protestor who chose to remain anonymous.

Addressing the rally, Durrani said that the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti was a glaring reminder of terrorism, sectarianism and religious extremism.

He said that the murder was a warning, not only for the Christian community, but also for other minorities in the country. He said the assassination of the minorities affairs minister had sent a message that religious extremism had taken root in the country and that the government was unable to ensure protection of citizens’ basic rights. Durrani said that minority communities were being pushed into a corner.

CLAP members demanded that the assassins of Shahbaz Bhatti be arrested as soon as possible. “All discriminatory laws should be abolished,” he said.

“Printing literature against minorities should be banned and propaganda against their religious books needs to come to an end,” he said, adding that the government needed to introduce proper legislation against hate speech targeting minority communities.

“There should be legal action against clerics who issue edicts declaring that members of a minority community deserve to be killed,” Durrani said. Advocate Robinson George Nicholson submitted a resolution in the LHCBA for deliberations over these measures. LHCBA secretary Arshad Malik Awan has fixed a hearing for Tuesday and called a general house meeting of the LHCBA to approve its findings and recommendations.

“Bhatti’s murder has shown that people who speak for minority communities are under threat and can be killed without reason,” Nicholson said. He said that the latest murder had brought stigma to the state and was an insult to the rule of law.

The resolution also demanded Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s resignation.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2011.


Commenter | 13 years ago | Reply @Ajay: Thanks for appreciating my thoughts, but I need to simplify that the very last line of my comment is not a question. Rather, it is a statement that highlights the often dichotomic relationship between the greater good and that which actually takes place in Pakistan. You’re right in saying that there is no quick-fix to the ills plaguing Pakistani society, but the lack of an “easy solution” does not mean that the situation is unsalvageable. If blood and sweat is the cost required then blood and sweat IS what Pakistanis must pay. There is no other option left. It was once widely believed by the “movers and shakers” of the Pakistani establishment, whether correctly or incorrectly is again debatable, that religious-radicalization was a legitimate and viable strategy they could deploy to accomplish their goals. Pakistan’s current political and socio-economic situation has undoubtedly lead them, or at least many among them, to reach the conclusion that de-radicalization at the macro-societal level is essential to the very survival of the country. However, change is rarely a process without pain, and just as a child cries and resists as he or she is socialized there will be shouts, cries and protests from the very members of Pakistani society who need to be changed the most. But it should be remembered that what we’re seeing is not the eventual destruction of Pakistan, we’re witnessing the evolution of a country. Lastly, I do not wish to engage in futile attempts to decipher the motivational factors influencing the decisions of those long gone. One can easily refer to the pages of history for an answer to your final question. Instead I ask you this, have not the Sikhs of India suffered greatly and the hands of previous Indian governments? Have not the Indian Christians and Indian Muslims suffered immensely at the hands of Saffron terrorist organizations? What makes you think that had the Christians of Indian Punjab refused to be a part of Pakistan that they would not have suffered a fate similar to that of the Christians from the Indian state of Orissa? The reality is that both Indian and Pakistani societies are far from what they could be. Both have a significant amount of “growing up to do”, but yes one is more grown up than the other.
Ajay | 13 years ago | Reply @Commenter I like the thought you have expressed "After several decades of independence, Pakistan has indelibly established itself as a sovereign state, be it a highly troubled one, and no longer needs the crutches of religion to hoist itself upon. Instead, Pakistanis need to understand that they must transition to a more religiously and ethnically integrated society.." The question you have posed in your last sentence "But though it is needed, will we ever come to see such a change take place is a matter all on its own?" has to be answered by Pakistanis themselves first. I am not seeing the answers. I think that is because there is no easy answer and no solution in sight due to the many constraints within the society that would drown any possible solution. and any solution that may be there will not be an easy one- it will cost a lot in blood and sweat of the Pakistani society. The sane people you see blogging here and elsewhere are very few in comparison to the sea of all age groups steeped in madrassa education or total illetracy. 2 people have been eliminated in quick succession, other notable figures are on hit list, Asia Bibi's children continue to suffer without their mother and the Bishop who burnt himself in 2008 to protest Blasphemy law seems to have died in vain a brutal death as it did not have any impact on any law maker inside Pakistan. One thing I am curious about- I read somewhere (and it could be a wrong reporting) that when British offered to Sikhs and Christians their own homelands, Sikhs decided to stay with India while christians choose Pakistan. What was the thinking in the minds of Christians at that time?
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