Shortly after it’s creation the founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah told its Constituent Assembly. “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
Last November Sherry Rahman, an MP and former information minister, launched an amendment to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Her most high profile supporters were Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the government’s minorities minister, and the only Christian in the government.
Sherry Rahman, who had resigned her government post over media restrictions, is now in hiding. Ms Rehman said last month she was receiving death threats every half hour by e-mail and telephone.
Salman Taseer was murdered on 4th January, shot 36 times by one of his bodyguards the Islamic militant Malik Mumtaz Qadri.
Shahbaz Bhatti was murdered today in Islamabad, his vehicle sprayed with bullets as he returned from a visit to his mother.
Orla Guerin reports “In recent weeks Mr Bhatti had been concerned about security. One of his friends said the minister had asked repeatedly for a bullet-proof car.” At the time of his murder his security escort vehicle and bodyguard, standard for a government minister, were unaccountably missing.
Tehrik-i-Taliban claimed to BBC Urdu that they carried out the attack on Shahbaz Batti. “This man was a known blasphemer of the Prophet [Muhammad],” said the group’s deputy spokesman, Ahsanullah Ahsan. “We will continue to target all those who speak against the law which punishes those who insult the prophet. Their fate will be the same.”
All this despite the fact that Pakistan’s prime minister had already indicated that any hopes of repealing the blasphemy laws were as dead as its supporters now are.
We cannot expect any action from politicians in Britain, they have no concern for the Christianity which forms the basis of our freedoms and culture. We cannot expect any cries of outrage from the Islamic community in Britain, why other than shame should they speak out against the atrocities of their co-religionists.
What is truly shameful is that we cannot expect any action from the supposed leaders of our churches. There may be a few expressions of regret from Lambeth palace, nothing more. 121 George Street, Edinburgh will as usual be silent. For the neo-Protestants hand-holding “bridge building” with the religion of peace takes higher priority than the deliberate destruction of historic Christian communities in lands taken over by Islam.
The murder of Shahbaz Bhatti is a matter of sadness and fear for Pakistan’s Christians. Our muted response is a matter of shame for Britain’s Christians.