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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Pakistan - the murder of the Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti


with request for inclusion in the agenda for the debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure

Véronique De Keyser on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0166/2011

Procedură : 2011/2612(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on Pakistan - the murder of the Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti

The European Parliament,

having regard to its resolution of 20 January 2011 on Pakistan, in particular the

murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer,


–   having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2010 on religious freedom in Pakistan,


–   having regard to its resolution of 16 December 2010 on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World 2009 and the European Union’s policy on the matter,


–   having regard to the Council conclusions adopted on 16 November 2009 on freedom of religion or belief, in which it underlines the strategic importance of this freedom and of countering religious intolerance,


–   having regard to the statement of 2 March 2011 by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the assassination of the Minister of Minorities in the Government of Pakistan, Shahbaz Bhatti,


–   having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,



A.  whereas Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister of Minorities in the Government of Pakistan, was a fierce critic of Pakistan's blasphemy laws who dedicated his political life to combating these laws and the injustices they have facilitated;


B.  whereas Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated on 2 March 2011 in Islamabad by three men, allegedly belonging to the Taliban, on the grounds that he was pursuing amendments to the blasphemy laws and that he therefore was an "enemy of Islam";


C.  whereas Shahbaz Bhatti was the only Christian member of the Government of Pakistan;


D.  whereas the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti comes only two months after the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, Governor of the Punjab province, who was killed in Islamabad by one of his security guards because he was, like Minister Bhatti, an equally outspoken opponent of the blasphemy laws;


E.  whereas the Government of Pakistan, in 1982 and 1986, introduced legal provisions known as the “blasphemy laws” which undermine the fundamental religious and minority rights granted by the Constitution; whereas these laws prescribe the death sentence or lifelong imprisonment in cases of blasphemy;


F.  whereas the blasphemy laws are misused by extremist groups and those wishing to settle personal scores, and have led to an increase of violence against members of religious minorities;


G.  whereas the Government of Pakistan, in November 2010, announced its intention to amend the blasphemy law but, caving in to extremist pressure, on 30 December 2010 publicly announced that it had “no intention” to repeal or amend the blasphemy laws;


H.  whereas the state religion of Pakistan is Sunni Islam, and minority religious groups consist of Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Shiites, Ahmadis, Buddhists, Parsis, Baha’is and others;


I.  whereas the Fundamental Rights Chapter of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan guarantees “freedom of profess religion and manage religious institutions” (Article 20,) equality of all citizens (Article 25) and the “legitimate rights and interests of minorities” (Article 26);


J.  whereas, on the other hand, Article 260 of the Constitution differentiates between Muslims and non-Muslims, thereby allowing discrimination on the basis of religion;


K.  whereas Article 3(5) of the Treaty of the European Union states that the promotion of democracy and respect for human rights and civil liberties are fundamental principles and aims of the European Union and constitute common ground for its relations with third countries;



1.  Strongly condemns the brutal assassination of Pakistan's Minister of Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, who was well known for his defence of the principles of equality and human rights which are enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan; offers sincere condolences to Mr Bhatti's family, friends and supporters;


2.  Notes that this assassination comes only two months after the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, who was killed on 4 January 2011 in Islamabad by one of his security guards who disagreed with Mr Taseer's fight against Pakistan's blasphemy laws;


3.  Urges the Pakistan authorities to conduct a rapid and transparent investigation into all aspects of Mr Bhatti's murder and to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice;


4.  Recognises Mr Bhatti's relentless fight for religious freedom and against the persecution of minorities in Pakistan, despite the personal risk involved; recalls his life-long commitment to justice and interfaith dialogue as well as dedication to combating the blasphemy laws;


5.  Is deeply concerned about the climate of intolerance and violence linked to the debate on the controversial blasphemy laws; urges the Government of Pakistan to review its stance regarding the reform of the blasphemy laws, to restart negotiations on potential amendments to these laws; calls on the Government to repeal these laws and other discriminatory legislation which are a relic of the past;


6.  Expresses its deep concern that the blasphemy laws do not help build mutual understanding and peaceful relations between the ethnic and religious groups in the country;


7.  Is of the view that a positive amendment of the blasphemy laws could protect innocent citizens – like Bhatti and Taseer – from similar fates in the future; calls on the Pakistani government to eventually repeal this legislation;


8.  Calls on the Government of Pakistan to do its utmost to ensure the protection of those in the government and civil society who have spoken out on these matters.


9.  Welcomes the recent Council conclusions on intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief in strengthening EU action in this field; calls on the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to actively pursue the issue of religious persecution in the world;


10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and Parliament of Pakistan.