Friday, March 4, 2011

Pakistan assembly fails to denounce Bhatti's death

While Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced a national mourning for the slain minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, many politicians and political parties in the country have chosen to remain silent on the issue. In the country's parliament, a joint statement also could not be iss
ued as many MPs refused to condemn the killing.

The main opposition parties, headed by the PML-N party of Nawaz Sharif, has remained strangely silent. Religious parties, which include the Jamaat-e-Islami party have termed the murder a plot to malign Pakistan.

A similar silence was seen when Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was shot earlier this year. After that killing, most political figures including Nawaz Sharif, and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, who is the chief minister of Punjab, stayed away from the funeral prayers of the slain governor.

"This silence is seen as an endorsement for the murder," MP Asia Nasir, a Christian, said in parliament. Nasir also pointed to the picture of Muhammad Ali Jinnah hanging on one wall in parliament and told the assembly that it was a sad day for minorities.

"We dont matter anymore. We are left out," she said.

The Christian community protested on Thursday and Friday. They are angry the government did not give adequate protection to the minister.

Questions are also being asked about who it was that gave the vital, information that led to the minister's death. As police rounded up several suspects in the murder probe, what became clear was that his assailants had known his secret routine of not living in his official residence and leaving for his private residence every day.

Bhatti was using his official residence as a smokescreen and actually lived in a rented house with his family, where he was gunned down on Wednesday.

A police official said fifteen people, including a cleric of a local mosque have been picked up for interrogation.

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