The sole Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet, and a vocal opponent of the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, was assassinated in the state capital of Islamabad Wednesday. Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti was shot dead by three men while on his way to work from his mother’s home. The assassins pulled his driver out of his vehicle before spraying the minister and his car with bullets.
Pamphlets reportedly dropped by the assassins were found at the attack site, containing anti-blasphemy material, including the statements, “The only fate of blasphemers is death” and “How dare the government make a Christian infidel the head of a committee reforming blasphemy laws.”
The pamphlet was signed by al-Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab, a banned terrorist group also known as Punjabi Taliban that is behind a string of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks.
This is the second political assassination in Pakistan in two months, targeting the opponents of the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, which impose the death penalty for insults to Islam.