Dr.Shahbaz Bhatti was born on 9 September 1968 to Christian parents in the village of Khushpur, Faisalabad. His father, Jacob Bhatti, served in the army, then as a teacher, before becoming chairman of the board of churches in Khushpur. Shahbaz Bhatti was unmarried; he had four brothers and one sister. He did MA in Political Science from Punjab University.
Dr. Shahbaz Bhatti was a Pakistani politician and elected member of the National Assembly in the year 2008.He was the first Federal Minister for Minorities 2008 until his assassination on 2 March 2011 in Islamabad. Bhatti, was an outspoken critic of Pakistan and the only Christian in the Cabinet.
Shahbaz Bhatti helped to found the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance in 1985, and had been elected its chairman. He also served as head of Pakistan’s Christian Liberation Front, which he formed in 1985. Bhatti joined the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in 2002. He was placed on the government’s Exit Control List in 2003, but was removed in November of that year.
He was appointed as minister for the defense of minorities on 2 November 2008, when, for the first time, the post was given the same status as other cabinet posts. At the time, he said that he accepted the post for the sake of the “oppressed, down-trodden and marginalized” of Pakistan, and that he dedicated his life to “struggle for human equality, social justice, religious freedom, and to uplift and empower the religious minorities’ communities.” He added that he wanted to send “a message of hope to the people living a life of disappointment, disillusionment and despair”, and also stated his commitment to reforming the country’s laws.
During his time as federal minister, he took steps in support of religious minorities. These included launching a national campaign to promote interfaith harmony, proposing the introduction of legislation to ban hate speech and literature, proposing the introduction of comparative religion as a curriculum subject, and proposing quotas for religious minorities in government posts and Senate seats.
Dr. Shahbaz Bahatti was a Chairman and founder of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA).
PEACE AWARD. Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti received PEACE AWARD for his services in the field of human rights and for the promotion of peace in Pakistan. An American Congressman Mr. Joseph Pitts at Philadelphia, USA presented this Award in May 1998 on behalf of Asian Commission for Human Rights Development and Christian League of USA.
Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti’s struggle for the downtrodden minorities dates back to 1985 when he was a college student. He mobilized minorities throughout Pakistan to spread the message of religious tolerance, unity and hope for the deprived people of Pakistan.
In 2002, he founded the first ever, umbrella organization of religious minorities in the name of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA). This umbrella organization includes Christian, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Kilayshi etc. The main objective of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) is to promote National unity, interfaith harmony, Social justice, and Human equality, Promotion of democratic culture and uplift and empowerment of down trodden and marginalized communities of Pakistan.
Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, was actively involved in the struggle for restoration of democracy and people’s rights. Anti democratic forces tortured, imprisoned, threatened and pressurized Mr. Bhatti on many occasions in his long struggle and principle stand on restoration of democracy, supremacy of constitution , rule of law, sovereignty of Parliament, Social and Economic justice and rights of religious minorities and less privileged people of Pakistan. Mr. Bhatti had a honor to represent Pakistan on different international forums.
Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, is pioneer in conceptualizing the formations of Interfaith Harmony Committees. A total of 126 Interfaith Harmony Committees at District Level i.e. at gross root level, throughout the country had been constituted and are being notified by the Ministry of Minority Affairs. These committees are been helpful to remove friction among different religions and give buoyancy to tolerance and religious freedom.
Bhatti had been the recipient of death threats since 2009, when he spoke in support of Pakistani Christians attacked in the 2009 Gojra riots in Punjab Province. These threats increased in 2010. The United States had tried to obtain increased security for him and get him an armored car but was unsuccessful. Bhatti himself foretold his death and recorded a video, which was to be released in case of his death, where he said “I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us, and I am ready to die for a cause. I’m living for my community … and I will die to defend their rights.”
On Wednesday 2nd March 2011 in the morning when he was traveling to work through a residential district, having just left his mother’s home, his vehicle was sprayed with bullets. At the time of the attack he was alone, without any security. His driver reports having stopped the car and ducked when he saw armed men approaching rather than attempting to evade the threat. Bhatti was taken to a nearby hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival.
According to Minorities Concern of Pakistan, Shahbaz Bhatti’s murderer is still unknown. Minorities are demanding for formation of a commission to probe the Bhatti case