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Shahbaz Bhatti, Minority Affairs Minister of Pakistan Shot Dead
Shahbaz Bhatti, 42, minority affairs minister of Pakistan, has become the second politician in the country to be killed over his link to the controversial blasphemy laws. Bhatti was shot dead today, while going to work.
Bhatti who is the only Christian with a seat in the federal cabinet, had been a recipient of several threats in various forms and from different quarters, accusing him of blasphemy. His life had become endangered, after the gruesome murder of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, earlier in January. Both men expressed views against the blasphemy laws, which had been used to sentence Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, by a lower court to death, accused of violating Pakistan's law.
Like in the case of Taseer, the Taliban had claimed responsibility for the gruesome murder of Bhatti. Leaflets were left behind at the scene of the murder of Bhatti, who has been reported to champion the cause of downtrodden religious minorities in Pakistan. "I am leading this campaign against Sharia law and for the abolishment of the blasphemy law and speaking for the rights of the oppressed and marginalised, persecuted Christians and other minorities" he had said in a video.
His murder has attracted condemnation within and outside of Pakistan. Chrisitians are expressing their discontent over the killing and the inability of the government to stop such. Meanwhile, the Pakistani authorities have also joined in calling for strong actions against such rather incessant killings. President Asif Ali Zardari, while condemning the killing, said: "The time has come for the federal government and provincial governments to speak out and to take a strong stand against these murderers to save the very essence of Pakistan."
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