02.03.11 17:42 Age: 1 yrs

WCC condemns murder of Minority Affairs official in Pakistan


In a letter to the prime minister of Pakistan, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed “great shock and dismay” at the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistan government minister for Minority Affairs. Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit noted that reports indicate that Bhatti “was assassinated by religious extremists because he was critical of the controversial blasphemy law in Pakistan.”


Condemning the “deplorable killing”, the general secretary indicated that “we also are concerned about the vulnerable situation in which Pakistan’s minority communities are living.” He continued, “We urge the government of Pakistan to take all necessary measures to provide safety and security to the Christian minority in Pakistan, and other minorities, and not to be deterred by the violent crimes committed by religious extremists.”


Shahbaz Bhatti, the only member of the federal cabinet from the minority Christian community in Pakistan, was ambushed by four gunmen on the morning of Wednesday 2 March near his home in Islamabad. The banned Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the hate crime soon afterwards.


In his letter to Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Tveit wrote: “The World Council of Churches calls upon Your Excellency’s government swiftly to undertake the investigation necessary to identify the assassins and bring all who are responsible for this brutal murder to a court of law.”


Full text of the letter


Statement by Bishop Samuel Azariah, presiding bishop of the Church of Pakistan and member of the WCC Central Committee


WCC member churches in Pakistan