Assassinated Pakistan Official Supported Religious Tolerance


"I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us. I know that what is the meaning of cross, and I'm following of the cross. And I'm ready to die for our cause; I'm living for my community and suffering people and I will die to defend their rights," Bhatti says to the camera, soberly.

He continues: "So these threats and these warning cannot change my opinions and principles. I will prefer to die for my principles and for the justice of my community rather to compromise on these threats."

But human rights advocates today argued that Bhatti did not need to be resigned to his fate, and that the state should have done better to protect him. They argued that Pakistan needed to take a more obvious stand against the radical groups that continue to reach into some of the quietest parts of the country to wage their violent campaigns.

"Bhatti's murder is the bitter fruit of appeasement of extremist and militant groups both prior to and after the killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer," said Ali Dayan Hasan, the Human Rights Watch representative in Pakistan. "An urgent and meaningful policy shift on the appeasement of extremists that is supported by the military, the judiciary and the political class needs to replace the political cowardice and institutional myopia that encourages such continued appeasement despite its unrelenting bloody consequences."

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Bhatti was on his way to a cabinet meeting, according to his colleagues, when his car was stopped by a white Suzuki with two men inside, according to two eyewitnesses who spoke to ABC News at the scene of the shooting. The gunman emerged from the passenger seat of the car and began shooting into the back seat of Bhatti's black Toyota Corolla. Bhatti's driver then fled and the gunmen continued to shoot into the car, the eyewitnesses said. Doctors said Bhatti was hit by more than 20 bullets.

Doctor Found Shahbaz Bhatti's Body

The nature of his death and the threats contained in the pamphlet dropped at the scene are clearly designed to scare Pakistanis into not speaking out against radicalism.

Moderates and liberals in Pakistan who have criticized the blasphemy laws say they are threatened nearly everywhere they go – whether on Twitter, Facebook, or with text messages. Many say they ignored such threats before, but cannot be so sanguine since Taseer and now Bhatti have been killed.

A doctor who lives about 100 feet from the scene of the shooting echoed that sentiment today. He ran outside after the gunshots, he told ABC News, and saw Bhatti's bloodied body. He said no police arrived on the scene for at least 15 minutes.

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Asked whether Pakistanis were being forced into silence, he asked that his name not be used and said, "They must not be silenced, but they have no way [to speak]. Because if I will talk today, maybe tomorrow, someone will come and kill me."

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