Cabinet Office Minister Baroness Warsi's statement following the assassination of the Pakistan Federal Minister for Religious Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti.
I was shocked to hear of the assassination of the Federal Minister for Religious Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti this week. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.
Only last week I had dinner with Minister Bhatti in Islamabad, where amongst other things we discussed my next visit to Pakistan and our plans to attend a church service together. I found him to be a brave and loyal Pakistani politician and a man of faith. The horrific news that yet another distinguished vocal opponent of violent extremism has been assassinated, so soon after the murder of Governor Salman Tasser, both saddens and disturbs me.
The terrorist campaign being waged by some against the people of Pakistan is truly horrific. They stand directly opposite to the values and the vision of Pakistan’s founding father. Muhammed Ali Jinnah’s progressive vision was to ensure that all Pakistanis, whatever their background, would be free from persecution and intolerance and free to practice their religion and their way of life. The idea of unity from diversity runs throughout Pakistan’s history and it has helped to forge the values of pluralism, tolerance and respect which define its society. It is these values that are being directly challenged by the violent extremists today.
The terrorists trying to destroy Pakistan draw no distinction between race or religion. The followers of the majority faith are as much targets as followers of minority faiths. That is why it is the job of every Pakistani to stand united, whatever their background, against terrorism in their country.
As a true friend of Pakistan, who has a deep and personal connection with the country, I would urge Pakistanis not to lose sight of the ties that bind it together. I can assure Pakistan that the UK stands with its people in these very difficult days.