US expert says Bhatti’s murder “shows pattern of growing religious intolerance” in PakMarch 3rd, 2011 - 5:18 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Mar 3(ANI): The assassination of Pakistan’s Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti for advocating reforms of the controversial blasphemy laws establishes a “pattern of growing religious intolerance” in the country, noted South Asian affairs analyst Lisa Curtis has said.
“It is undermining Pakistan’s struggling democracy by shutting down free speech and political expression in the name of a ruthless ideology disguised as religion,” said Curtis, who is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia at the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.
Some Pakistani officials, who had sought to argue that the murder of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer at the hands of his own security guard in January was an anomaly and unreflective of broader societal trends, were proven wrong by this shocking incident, she said.
“It’s clear that the thin layer of liberal thinkers in Pakistan is getting thinner by the day. Academics and moderate politicians express fear about the current situation in the country and a sense of not knowing what’s coming next,” added Curtis, who visited Lahore two weeks ago.
She noted that the case of double murder-accused US official Raymond Davis has “energized” the religious political parties in the country.
“They carry out regular protests shouting down America and are beginning to tie the issue of support for blasphemy laws with that of the jailed American. The rapidly developing political dynamics in Pakistan are a dangerous witch’s brew that could portend a significant shift in Pakistani politics to a regime that is more insular, less engaged with the international community, and more repressive toward its own people,” she added.
Curtis said the “rising tide of extremism” gripping Pakistan- as evidenced by the assassination of the second top official in the country over the blasphemy issue within two months- demands that “the civilian leaders of Pakistan who still value the principles of democratic governance stand together to keep the country from lurching further toward lawlessness and instability.” (ANI)
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