Pakistan, US urge tolerance


WASHINGTON – Pakistani and US leaders pleaded Wednesday for religious tolerance at a memorial service in Washington for Shahbaz Bhatti. Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, said he decided to hold a service for Bhatti at the embassy as there was an “unconscionable silence” by many Pakistanis who in their hearts are respectful of other faiths. “When Shahbaz Bhatti was murdered and we remain silent, some of us have died with him,” Haqqani told the service attended by US officials and Pakistani expatriates.
Farahnaz Ispahani, a member of Pakistan’s parliament, praised Bhatti’s work on the blasphemy law and other efforts including trying to restrict hate speech. “We are fighting today to protect our great nation from bigoted extremists who want to silence every voice that believes in inclusion,” said Ispahani, who is Haqqani’s wife.
Maria Otero, the US under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, said that the United States shared Bhatti’s “pursuit of a world of tolerance.”