EU demands justice after Pakistan Catholic assassination
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton urged Pakistan on Wednesday to ensure justice after gunmen assassinated a Catholic government minister because he wanted to reform an anti-blasphemy law.
Brussels: EU foreign affairs chief Catherine
Ashton urged Pakistan on Wednesday to ensure justice after gunmen
assassinated a Catholic government minister because he wanted
to reform an anti-blasphemy law.
The killing in broad daylight of minorities minister
Shahbaz Bhatti as he left his mother`s home was the second
high-profile assassination in two months -- feted by Islamist
hardliners who rejoiced at the death of an "apostate."
Expressing her "great sadness," English baroness Ashton
said: "I strongly condemn the murder of a member of the
government who was well known for his defence of the
principles of equality and human rights which are enshrined in
the constitution of Pakistan.
"I am also deeply concerned about the climate of
intolerance and violence linked to the debate on the
controversial blasphemy laws.
"I urge the Pakistani authorities to do their utmost to
ensure the protection of those in the government and civil
society who have spoken out on these matters, and to bring to
justice those responsible for this crime."
Ashton and Britain are currently fighting to push
through a series of EU trade aid concessions for Pakistan
agreed in the wake of last year`s floods, but which face
strong opposition from Italy and others in the World Trade
Bhatti, a member of Pakistan`s tiny Christian community,
had been a vocal opponent of the law despite receiving death
threats after the first murder. Liberal late governor of
Punjab province Salman Taseer was killed by his bodyguard in
Controversy over the legislation, originally introduced
by British colonial rulers of the Indian sub-continent in
1927, flared both within Pakistan and internationally after a
Christian mother of five was sentenced to hang last year for
making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed.
Politicians and conservative clerics have been at
loggerheads over whether Aasia Bibi should be pardoned.
Only around three percent of Pakistan`s population of 167
million are estimated to be non-Muslim.