United By Faith Chairman, Wilson Chowdhry, Addresses Italian Senate Meeting on Religious Freedom

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London: Thirteen years have passed since the tragic assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the former Minister of Minorities in Pakistan, yet his legacy continues to ignite a global movement dedicated to peace and religious freedom.

Our Chairman Wilson Chowdhry, was invited to speak at an event held in his honour, held at the Italian Senate on 11th March 2024. You can watch his address here:

The event was organised by the Association of Pakistani Christians in Italy, who aimed to remember Mr Bhatti's life as a Catholic,  fostering peace among religions and cultures. As a Pakistani citizen, he advocated for equal citizenship, particularly reaching out to persecuted Christians and marginalized religious minorities. His tangible contributions included negotiations with state stakeholders to uplift the most marginalized sectors of society, where he embodied the principles of Christ through his words and actions.

Numerous Italian organizations and advocates from Pakistani Christian groups across Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK actively participated in the conference. The attentive presence of Italian Senators and MPs underscored the profound significance of the event.

In a heartening display of solidarity, Jewish residents of Rome and Trieste stood alongside Pakistan's religious minorities, acknowledging the crucial role they play, particularly with 822 officially recognized Pakistani Jewish voters still present.

Furthermore, members of the Pakistani Muslim community in Rome united in commemorating the late Federal Minister of Pakistan, Shahbaz Bhatti, symbolizing their solidarity with Christians.

In a deeply moving address, Mobeen, now a professor at the Urbaniana University in Rome, paid tribute to Bhatti's steadfast commitment to defending Asia Bibi and other marginalized communities. Reflecting on Shahbaz’s loss, Mobeen expressed the shared grief while emphasizing the enduring impact of his sacrifice, both nationally and internationally.

Throughout the event, speakers reiterated that Shahbaz Bhatti transcended mere politics, embodying the essence of a peacemaker who tirelessly championed the rights of Christians and marginalized communities in Pakistan. Alessandro Monteduro, Director of the Pontifical Foundation, Aid to the Church in Need, underscored the profound impact of Bhatti’s martyrdom on Christian communities globally, emphasizing the vital role of his legacy in advancing religious freedom.

Valeria Martano, coordinator for Asia of the Community of Sant’Egidio, celebrated the tangible progress achieved in Pakistan through Bhatti’s advocacy, including the establishment of new rights for minorities and the preservation of his Bible at San Bartolomeo all’Isola Tiberina, symbolizing martyrdom.

Tabassum Yousaf, a lawyer at the Pakistan High Court, provided a firsthand perspective on the ongoing challenges faced by religious minorities in Pakistan, particularly Christian girls who are targets of abduction and forced conversion to Islam.

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of United by Faith, shared poignant reflections on his interactions with Shahbaz Bhatti, highlighting the disparity between Bhatti's public support for the Pakistani government and his private discussions. Chowdhry commended Bhatti's courage and statesmanship, urging increased efforts to make Pakistan equitable for all and advocating for the repeal of draconian blasphemy laws.

Rt Revd Dr Richard Cheetham (Bishop for the Diocese of Southwark),  Wilson Chowdhry and Shabhaz Bhatti Pakistan's Federal Minister of Minorities - Image taken in 2010.

Davide Dionisi, special envoy for the promotion of religious freedom appointed by Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, reaffirmed the Italian Government’s commitment to upholding Bhatti’s legacy, condemning violence and fanaticism while urging against indifference.

Mr. Chowdhry's daughter, Hannah Chowdhry, was also scheduled to speak at the event, representing the British Asian Christian Association (BACA). However, due to an unexpected date change from the 18th of March to the 11th of March, both Mr. Chowdhry and Hannah were informed very late, just the night before the event. Despite the short notice, Mr. Chowdhry managed to book a flight and hastily wrote his speech on his phone while en route, resulting in some difficulty reading it during the event. Unfortunately, Hannah Chowdhry, unable to adjust her university commitments at such short notice, was unable to attend. However, she sent her prepared speech to be read at the event. 

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"Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" By Nazir S Bhatti

On demand of our readers, I have decided to release E-Book version of "Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" on website of PCP which can also be viewed on website of Pakistan Christian Congress www.pakistanchristiancongress.org . You can read chapter wise by clicking tab on left handside of PDF format of E-Book.

nazirbhattipcc@aol.com , pakistanchristianpost@yahoo.com