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Shahbaz Bhatti Reference – feedback and updates

March 21, 2011

Congratulations, CFD Karachi for a well-attended and moving Reference for slain Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti. Here is a short video of the opening of CFD’s Reference for Shahbaz Bhatti, by Fahim Zaman Khan. Powerful words. Spread them wide.
Direct link to photo album uploaded by Piler, Karachi).
At the event, former senator and law minister Iqbal Haider “regretted that no one from the electronic media attended this reference because they were fearful of the reaction from the extremists”. If that is why they were not there, shame on them. And all the more urgency to meet the media owners and editors and convince them to pull their heads out of the sand.

UTThay ga Unnal Haq ka Naara... Faiz's immortal words visible on the CFD banner on the side. Lower photo: In front in black suit: Advocate Rochi Ram from Larkana. Pix by Piler Karachi

CFD continued its letter campaignat the reference. Over 150 more people signed the letters, including Senator (retd) Iqbal Haider and advisor to the Govt of Sindh Kaiser Bengali. Some, including women’s rights activist Hilda Saeed and columnist Babar Ayaz who had already signed online, also symbolically signed the letters again. Between 300-400 were given to individuals who will have them signed by people in their organizations and returned to the CFD later this week. The letter campaign will continue at various events throughout Karachi for several more weeks.

Couple of responses on the CFD facebook page:

“The CFD reference for Shahbaz Bhatti ended at 8:00pm with a candlelight walk to the main gate of Karachi Press Club. Inspiring speeches by Senator Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Syed Iqbal Haider (former Senator and Law Minister), and many others.
Over 325 persons were seated, while the rest of us stood around. All chairs were covered in black cloth, and the Kanat (shamiana) walls were also black.
The gist of what was said: Reference was made to the dilution of the white in the Pakistani flag that represents the minorities, how military rulers have used the establishment and the religious parties to be their constituencies, The use of religion in matters of state was traced back to Ghulam Mohammed in 1952 when he sided with America to fight the atheist Communists, and the 1949 Objectives Resolution. Reference was made to how a bill for protection of women’s rights passed by both houses of Parliament was knocked down by the Shariat Court, showing that Parliament was not supreme and there was a parallel system of justice. We were cautioned if we don’t stand up for democracy, opportunists will use religion and usurp our nation. It was repeatedly said that no man should be allowed to take the law into his own hands. Speakers lamented the absence of the TV channels to cover this event, and said it showed they had succumbed to the fear that is being used to exploit the nation in the name of religion”
— Tinker Sohail Osman Ali

“It was a good event & there was contradiction on the demand of restoration of the constitution of Pakistan 1973 in its letter & spirit as it relates religion with State… It was demanded that religion should b kept away from State affairs bcz religion has nothing to do with State” – Lala Hassan, co-convener Asian Muslims Lawyers Human Rights Network for South Asia

The event was reasonably covered in the print media. Some links below – please do share links from Urdu and Sindhi papers also:

Demand for arrest of Bhatti’s killers, Dawn

Homage paid to slain Bhatti, Daily Times

Condolence reference for Shahbaz Bhatti, The News

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