ASIA/PAKISTAN - Another Bhatti will continue his brother's mission, but minority rights not among the top priorities for Government

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Islamabad (Agenzi Fides) – The appointment of Paul Bhatti, brother of murdered Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, as “Special Advisor” for Religious Minorities by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, to manage the affairs of religious minorities at a federal level “can be seen as a sign of hope for minorities” says Fides sources in the Christian community in Pakistan. But, on the other hand, “the Government is overcome with problems of corruption and weakness and is experiencing hard times. The rights and conditions of minorities are not among the top priorities for the executive, even less so affronting the problem of the blasphemy law,” notes Fr Mario Rodriguez to Fides, a priest from Karachi and Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Pakistan. “So, being realistic, we do not expect great changes, given the current unstable political situation,” says the priest.
Also some Pakistani Christians, members of the “Citizens for Democracy” network, cast doubts on the future: “Paul Bhatti will have the powers of a Minister but he is not being named a Minister just for political reasons. The Government wants to save the spot for a politician. Anyway, it is important that he will be conferred with the full powers, including freedom of budget, so that he can continue to build the network of international relations that Shahbaz had. We demand that this appointment is not just a facade, but that the Government really supports Bhatti in defending rights and in the economic and social promotion of religious minorities.”
According to the Association of Pakistani Christians in Italy, “Bhatti is a man of good will. He is clearly one who wants to sincerely do good for the nation. For this reason, the Government is to be congratulated for choosing him. Bhatti can continue the mission of his brother. We welcome his appointment with joy and hope.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 24/3/2011)