Activists demand Pakistan murder probe

Killings show country is an 'epicenter of intolerance'

Mike MacLachlan, London, United Kingdom

April 19, 2011

The Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP), a rights group with 26 members in 18 countries, has called on the Pakistan government to “establish a judicial inquiry into the murders of Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer.”

The statement follows an RLP meeting in Virginia last month, at which Bhatti was due to be keynote speaker.

Bhatti, a Catholic who was minority affairs minister in the Pakistani cabinet, was assassinated on March 2. In January, Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province, was shot dead in the capital, Islamabad.

The RLP statement said Pakistan has become “an epicentre of religious intolerance” and that “hundreds of Pakistani citizens have been killed by acts of terrorism.”

Bhatti “achieved much for all religious minorities in Pakistan,” said the RLP Chairman, Mervyn Thomas, who is also chief executive of the British-based Christian Solidarity worldwide (CSW) in a statement yesterday.

“We hope and pray that the Pakistani authorities, the international community, and the worldwide Church will take the necessary action to ensure Shahbaz Bhatti’s death will not have been in vain.”

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