Yesterday, Pakistan lost another human and minority rights advocate. Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti was murdered today in a hail of bullets near his mother’s house, in Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad, en route to the Parliament House.
He was the only Roman Catholic Christian in the Federal Cabinet and was a well-known for his views regarding Pakistan’s highly controversial Blasphemy Law, which made him rather unpopular with the extreme right.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led Federal Government had a relatively easy job of pin-pointing the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) as culprits behind this atrocity, as they had, conveniently, left behind a “Kilroy wuz hare!” note behind stating their case justifying the Federal Minister’s murder. The “high-ups” ‘responsible’ for Mr. Bhatti’s security conveniently stated that he had asked his armed escort to wait for him at his office at the Parliament House, absolving themselves and laying the blame on the victim for the security lapse which led to his death.
The TTP are supposed to be ultra-radical, hardcore Islamists. They follow a very narrow, restrictive and literalist interpretation of Islam, which most Islamic scholars considers akin to heresy. Here’s the “funny” thing with “The Taliban Pamphlet” is that there are “typos” in the Arabic text! Note the way “BismIllah” is written in the letter and the way it is written traditionally. No matter where you go or whichever Arabic, Persian or Urdu typeface you use, it’ll be written the same way. Considering that it was written by the members of an “Islamist” organization, I guess, by the time the assassins got/get back to their leaders, they’d be tried for blasphemy themselves on two counts. The first is, well, misspelling one of the Attribute of Almighty Allah, “Rahma’an” meaning “The Beneficent, The Most Merciful in Essence, The Compassionate, The Most Gracious”, and therefore misspelling BismIllah and, secondly, throwing a document with the verses of the Holy Qur’aan and the name of the Holy Prophet (SWS) on it, on the road. In the rain.
Considering the above facts, a few questions come to mind.
One, were the Mr. Bhatti’s murderers actually the ultra-religious Taliban?
I’ll take the official story that this attack was perpetrated by the TTP, with a pinch of salt on the basis that no self-respecting Muslim, let alone a so-called devout Muslim, misspell the opening and the most frequently occurring verse in the Holy Qur’aan and then throw a note with the Sacred Verses, and the names of Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet (SWS) on the road side.
Two, besides committing the crime of murder, which still carries a maximum penalty of death in Pakistan, especially if the culprits are tried under the Anti-Terrorism Laws (ATC), can these individuals be tried under the infamous Blasphemy Law?
Considering the above facts, I strongly feel that if and when these people, who planned and executed the murder of the Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, are caught, they should be tried under both the ATC and the Blasphemy Laws based on my argument. Some individuals have been tried under the Blasphemy Law for lesser allegations with dodgy witness testimony, why can’t our courts try a bunch of murderers who’s blasphemous acts have been documented by the world media? There is, also, historic precedence available in the Shari’ah, as well, which allows the state to prosecute these individuals for using misquoted verses from our Sacred Book as a justification for spreading sectarian strife and murdering individuals
who are trying to make lives of both Muslims and non-Muslims better in our country. (Maybe, this was done deliberately by the TTP to mislead skeptics like me.)
There are several rumours going around stating that the Federal Government has managed to arrest the individual involved in the murder of Mr. Bhatti, but there is no solid report so far verifying this. The Federal Government has, also, launched a crackdown on illegal Afghan immigrants in the Federal Capital siting security concerns in the wake of Mr. Bhatti’s murder.
There is no clear-cut answers from the Federal Government regarding the mystery surrounding Mr. Bhatti’s absent the security detail and why he wasn’t given a bullet-proof car, despite repeated requests, by the Federal Ministry of Interior, headed by Mr. Rehman Malik.
There is more here than meets the eye. The only thing crystal clear is that Pakistan has lost another brave son.