This makes two Pakistani officials murdered in two months for the “crime” of opposing the country’s blasphemy laws. The first, Punjabi governor Salman Taseer, was gunned down in January by one of his own security people. Who, naturally, was then treated as a hero by Pakistan’s many, many jihadi sympathizers.
Taseer was a liberal Muslim; Shahbaz Bhatti was a Catholic, which made him both a blasphemer and an apostate. He was a marked man and he knew it only too well, as Nina Shea vividly recounts at The Corner:
He had waged a strong campaign — inside the government as a minister and outside it in cooperation with human-rights groups — for the repeal of the country’s draconian blasphemy law, which mandates the death penalty for insulting Islam. The 42-year-old was a Roman Catholic, the government’s only Christian minister, and the longtime head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, a non-governmental organization promoting national unity, interfaith harmony, social justice, and human equality…
Death threats were a constant in Bhatti’s life for many years. He once told me that he had never married because he did not think it would be fair to a wife and children to subject them to this concern. His work was his life: At the end of each day, he left his government Cabinet office and headed over to his office at the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, where he continued to help Pakistan’s persecuted minorities until late into the night.
“I personally stand for religious freedom, even if I will pay the price of my life,” he had said when he received the USCIRF award. “I live for this principle and I want to die for this principle.”
A pamphlet left at the scene named Bhatti in connection with the blasphemy laws and claimed responsibility for Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Punjab. The second video below shows what they did to his car; this graphic photo from Getty will give you an idea of what they did to him. It’s the first video, though, that’s unforgettable — recorded four months ago, even before Taseer’s assassination, a weary Bhatti contemplates his fate. So sure was he of being murdered, in fact, that he left instructions with friends to send this clip to broadcasters when the inevitable deed was done. He reminds me of Franz Jagerstatter, another devout Catholic who resisted monsters knowing full well what the consequences would be. Jagerstatter is already on his way to sainthood; I assume the process will begin for Bhatti sooner rather than later.
The fact that he spent years working for human rights but only recently felt compelled to record a postmortem testimonial tells you everything you need to know about where Pakistan is these days. Hitchens marveled just yesterday at how “sick” our relationship with this sickening country is; the only silver lining in withdrawing from Afghanistan will be that we can stop pretending that we’re impartial as between India and this cancer on the region. Which won’t be much of a comfort to India: The weaker and more insane Pakistan gets, the more fissile material they pile up, and the more a horrendous outcome — a suicide bombing on a global scale — seems all but assured. I’m not sure there’s any way out.