13 Years On: Pakistan Reflects on Shahbaz Bhatti's Impact and Struggle for Equality

Lahore, 5 March 2024 – Pakistan's Christian community commemorated the 13th anniversary of the martyrdom of Shahbaz Bhatti, the nation's former Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs who was assassinated in 2011. The remembrance events highlighted Bhatti's enduring legacy as a staunch advocate for the rights of religious minorities and a crusader for interfaith harmony in Pakistan.

Human rights activist Ashiknaz Khokhar remembered Bhatti as a key Christian figure who worked relentlessly against discriminatory laws and for minority rights. Bhatti's assassination underscored the perils faced by advocates in a country grappling with religious intolerance.

Fr. Nadeem Joseph emphasized the importance of promoting interfaith harmony and reforming discriminatory laws to foster a more inclusive society in Pakistan. These efforts are vital for ensuring equal rights and representation for all communities, irrespective of their religious or ethnic identities.

Various other speakers, including Fr. Haroon, Dr. Martin, Babu Asif, Zafar Suneel, and Asher Masroor, echoed similar sentiments at Shahbaz's memorial, each sharing their perspectives on his legacy and the path forward for minority rights in Pakistan.

In a separate event at Nawan Shehr Chowk, Multan, the Pakistan Minorities Democratic Party (PMDP), led by Chairman Abid Chand, organized a rally to honor Shahbaz Bhatti's contributions. Keynote speakers, including Advocate Faisal Sarfraz, Ghulam Ali Bukhari, and many others, saluted Bhatti's commitment to community service and interfaith harmony.

Abid Chand highlighted that Bhatti's vision aligned with the founding principles of Pakistan as envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam. Despite Bhatti's efforts, minorities in Pakistan continue to face oppression and religious extremism, reinforcing the need for ongoing advocacy and reform.

Farooq Paul, the rally's chief organizer, stressed that minorities have been integral to Pakistan's foundation and development. He reaffirmed the community's commitment to the nation and to continuing the struggle for their rights.

Choudhry Javed Iqbal and Majid Tanveer, representing different regions, pledged to carry forward Shahbaz Bhatti's mission. Their speeches underscored the resilience and determination of Pakistan's minority communities in the face of challenges.

The events across Pakistan, marking Bhatti's 13th death anniversary, serve as a powerful reminder of his legacy and the ongoing struggle for minority rights in the country. His life and martyrdom continue to inspire a generation of activists and community leaders dedicated to fostering a more equitable and inclusive Pakistan.