[QODLink]
Talk to Al Jazeera

Paul Bhatti: Pakistan's religious divide

Pakistan's former minister for national harmony and minority affairs on the roots of violence along religious lines.

Last Modified: 13 Jul 2013 13:36
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Another attack hit Pakistan, a country where violence keeps escalating along religious divisions. This time, Sunni armed groups targeted a Shia neighbourhood in Karachi, leaving 45 people killed.

I think it is not an issue of the law, it is an issue of a specific mindset which is using Islam for their own purpose .... Some [Madrassas] are teaching only to the children a specific kind of ideology interpreted in their own way. And these children are brainwashed, and they are attacking people who are against their ideology.

Paul Bhatti, the former minister for national harmony and minority affairs in Pakistan

This year alone, more than 400 people have been killed in similar attacks. Ahmadis, Hindus, and Christians have also been victims of religious intolerance.

In August last year, Rimsha, a young disabled girl, was arrested on charges of desecrating the Quran. She was jailed and the Christian neighbourhood where she lives has been under constant threat of attack.

The country’s controversial blasphemy laws forbid any form of insult to all religions, but in practice have been applied only in the case of Muslims feeling aggrieved.

Few politicians have been willing to publicly criticise the country’s blasphemy laws. One who did was Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab. He was subsequently assassinated by his bodyguard in January 2011.

Another politician opposed to the blasphemy laws was Shahbaz Bhatti. For four years he was the only Christian member of the federal cabinet and served as minister for minority affairs. He was gunned down in March 2011. No one has yet been found guilty.

Shahbaz's brother Paul, also a Christian, returned to Pakistan from Italy and  took up his mantle as minister. But Paul Bhatti was replaced as minister of religious affairs in the new government - by Sardar Muhammad Yousaf, who is a Muslim. 

Talk to Al Jazeera sat down with the former minister for national harmony and minority affairs in Pakistan, Paul Bhatti, to discuss religious divisions in today’s Pakistan, issues facing religious minorities, and the impact of the country's blasphemy laws.

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430; Sunday: 0830, 1930; and Monday: 1430.  

 Click here for more Talk to Al Jazeera

399

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
As nuclear age approaches eighth decade, visitors flock to historic bomb craters at New Mexico test sites.
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
join our mailing list