Faisalabad (Agenzia Fides) - "Shahbaz Bhatti was an authentic patriot, a true son of Pakistan. His memory honors our country. The reason is this: he gave his life to promote a Pakistan where law, justice, freedom and equality were principles to be respected and lived. This commitment was all to Pakistan's advantage: his struggle for justice and for the common good was a benefit for the whole nation and for its image abroad. We remember him today as a victim of violence and terrorism. But his testimony will not fall on deaf ears and will not cease: many people are ready to continue his campaign for justice, peace and coexistence": says to Fides, Paul Bhatti, on the anniversary of the death of his brother Shahbaz Bhatti, killed in Islamabad on March 2, 2011. Paul Bhatti is currently at the head of the "Mission Shahbaz" Foundation which promotes development projects in the name of the leader, and is president of the "All Pakistan Minorities Alliance" (APMA), continuing the work of his killed brother.
Memorial masses and moments of commemoration in honor of Shahbaz are held today in many Churches in Pakistan. In Islamabad, on the scene of the crime, a celebration is scheduled with the presence of Christian leaders, Muslims, representatives of civil society and politics, diplomats, gathered by APMA. We will remember Bhatti’s commitment for the poor, the oppressed, for the rights and protection of religious minorities, and for the contribution that Shahbaz made to the nation.
On March 4th a solemn commemoration will be held in Kushpur, the native village of Shahbaz Bhatti. On a family plot that houses a museum dedicated to him and where a mausoleum will be erected in his name, over two thousand people, who have come from all over the district and from other places in the nation, will gather to remember the human and spiritual heritage that Shahabz left. The Bishop of Faisalabad, Mgr. Indrias Rehmat; Ijaz Alam Augustine, Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minorities and Minister of Interreligious Dialogue in Punjab; Paul Bhatti, numerous Christian faithful and several Islamic religious leaders who appreciated the work of Shahbaz and his "passion for humanity" will be present.
"We will remember his life and works. He was an angel for Pakistan, a gift of God to the nation", recalls Fr. Emmanuel Parvez, parish priest in the diocese of Faisalabad, his first cousin and spiritual confidant.
Joseph Paul, teacher and lay Catholic, Shahbaz’ friend says to Fides. "Shahbaz is our hero and he is our martyr. His great sacrifice still bears fruit of justice and blessing to Pakistan. We must be united in remembering him. He gave his life and this is an indelible sign that remains in the history of all of us in Kushpur, with so many people in Pakistan, we hope that the Church will soon officially recognize his martyrdom". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 2/3/2020)