Shahbaz Bhatti could have been saved: Brother

Without blaming the Pak govt, Toronto-based Peter Bhatti, brother of slain Pak minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, said extra security for his brother could have saved his life.

Updated: Mar 04, 2011, 13:34 PM IST

Toronto: Without blaming the Pakistani government, Toronto-based Peter Bhatti, brother of slain Pakistan federal minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, Thursday said extra security for his brother could have saved his life.

Bhatti, who was also the founder-chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, was gunned down by the Pakistan Taliban Tuesday for speaking out against blasphemy laws which mandate death for insulting Islam and are misused against minorities.

"My brother had asked for a bullet-proof car. The government should have done more to protect him because of extremist threats," Peter, who was on his way to attend his brother`s funeral, said.

Asked if he was angry with Pakistani rulers for not protecting his brother, he said: "Frankly, Shahbaz was not a fan of big security. He never made it an issue and would say that if Benazir Bhutto could be killed despite so much security, anybody can be killed."

Peter said his brother had expressed his fears when he visited Canada last month to meet the prime minister and other leaders.

"He said he could be martyred any time, but will not compromise on his stand against blasphemy laws and extremists till the last drop of his blood."

Peter, who is the elder brother of the slain minister, said: "My brother was the last voice of the minorities of Pakistan. Religious extremism has crossed all limits and minorities are oppressed religiously, emotionally and politically. We (the minorities of Pakistan) are desperate and depressed."

However, he said his brother`s sacrifice will only motivate Pakistani minorities to come out in the open for their rights.

"A thousand Shahbaz Bhattis will now come forward and not stop till these dark forces are defeated," said Peter who migrated to Canada in 1997 and set up the International Christian Voice to support his brother`s cause in Pakistan.

Asking the world not to watch the atrocities on them silently, Bhatti said: "The international community should give full-fledged support to the people of Pakistan to defeat extremists."

He said: "Shahbaz was the youngest of our five brothers and never wanted to join politics. But when Zia ul-Haq introduced these blasphemy laws in 1985, he came out to oppose them democratically. It was only at the insistence of Benazir Bhutto - who also wanted to repeal these laws - that he became an MP."

Paying tributes to the slain minister, Indo-Canadian leader Ujjal Dosanjh said: "Pakistan is not living up to Jinnah`s promise of equality to minorities. These blasphemy laws are anything but equality.

"What kind of a country are they building when the president and the prime minister don`t go to pay respects when a top leader (Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer killed in January for opposing blasphemy laws) is killed. An unstable Pakistan overwhelmed by fanatics is not in anybody`s interest."

IANS