Taliban extremists claimed responsibility for the murder of Pakistan’s Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti yesterday morning, the only Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet. The assassination is the second political assassination linked to controversial blasphemy laws after the first assassination of Salman Taseer on January Tuesday, January 4, 2011.
President Asif Zardari condemned the “heinous act” and vowed that the government would continue to “stand firm” against extremists.
Gunmen have killed a Christian Pakistan government minister who opposed blasphemy laws. Wednesday’s assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti was the second time in two months a prominent opponent of the laws has been struck down.
Bhatti was the Catholic son of a former army soldier and schoolteacher. Even with continuous death threats, his security detail was far smaller than that accorded to other federal cabinet ministers.
A note was left by Bhatti’s killers claiming to be acting for Al al-Qaeida in the Punjab and Fidayeen-e-Muhammad — a militant group linked to the Pakistan Taliban.
Media coverage of the assassination has been subdued and tangential.