2 March 2011

In response to the murder this morning of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs, Maajid Nawaz, Quilliam’s Director and founder of Khudi, an organisation that works to challenge extremism and promote democratic culture and mutual respect in Pakistan, said:

‘This latest murder shows the threat that extremists pose to Pakistan. Civil society in Pakistan is being systematically destroyed by extremists. Pakistanis who publicly stand up for justice and tolerance are being targeted and sometimes killed. While the Middle East is embracing democracy, Pakistan appears to be retreating into vigilantism and anarchy.’

‘The Pakistani government needs to take responsibility for this rising extremism. It desperately needs a national counter-extremism strategy. It needs to stand up for the values of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. At present, rather than adopting a unified policy, only a few individuals within the government are standing up for Pakistan’s founding values and these are being assassinated one by one.’

‘Pakistan is the key to peace in South Asia. If Pakistan burns, the region will burn with it. The international community urgently needs to support grassroots challenges to extremism in Pakistan and to make it clear to Pakistan’s government that tackling terrorism alone is not enough.’