(ENInews) The government of Pakistan vowed to uphold the rights of religious minorities in the Muslim-majority nation at a conference in Islamabad that marked the first anniversary of the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, former federal minister for minority affairs.
“We are making all-out efforts to impart the sense of equal citizenship so far as fundamental rights pertaining to safety, security, honor, life, liberty and properties of the (religious) minorities are concerned,” declared Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on March 6 at the conference.
It was organized by the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, which Bhatti helped found.
Gilani said Bhatti sacrificed his life in the service of religious minorities, noting that he had been instrumental in declaring Aug. 11 as Minority Day, supporting a government decision to celebrate religious functions of minorities, reserving a quota for religious minorities in the Senate and a 5 percent quota in government jobs.
The 42-year old Catholic, who was gunned down March 2, 2011, in Islamabad, was “in the forefront of the struggle for protecting the (religious) minorities from exploitation and discrimination,” President Asif Ali Zardari said in a message read out at the conference.
“To pay homage to Shahbaz Bhatti, let us resolve to work for promoting interfaith harmony as our best hope for fighting militancy and extremism and for establishing in Pakistan a just and pluralistic society,” he urged.
Muhammad Arshad, spokesperson for Paul Bhatti, Shahbaz Bhatti’s brother and adviser to the prime minister on national harmony, told ENInews on March 7 that more than 2,000 Christians from across Pakistan, led by top church officials, eminent Pakistanis and leaders of political parties, attended the Pakistan government’s “memorial tribute” for Bhatti.