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Murder of Christian lawmaker: Can Pakistan check Islamic extremism?

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According to Mehdi Hassan, chairman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan’s political parties are so bitterly divided it makes it extremely difficult to unite against rising extremism. “Our political leaders do not view security as a top priority problem,” he says, adding: “At this time, Pakistan is already isolated in the international community and its image is at lowest ebb, and our major political parties and leaders are not realizing this.”

Bahadur Khan, an eyewitness from a restaurant overlooking the crime scene, told the Monitor that Bhatti's car was intercepted by attackers in a small white Suzuki car. “One gunman came out and began firing from the side of the car, at which time Bhatti’s driver escaped. He then opened fire from the front of the car,” says Mr. Khan. The gunman was able to drop pamphlets before getting back in the car and “calmly driving away.”

Questions were raised in early February about inadequate security for Bhatti. Unlike other ministers who have bulletproof vehicles and dozens of guards, at the time he reportedly had only two security guards and no armored car.

“I am getting threats and was warned that I would be beheaded and would be meted out the treatment similar to Mr. Taseer,” Bhatti told The News in February.

According to Nelson Azeem, one of two remaining Christian lawmakers in parliament, “Mr. Bhatti discussed his lack of security with fellow minority lawmakers many times. He made these concerns known to the prime minister and president, but they did nothing about it.”

“He worked hard for the uplift of Christians and all minorities in this country,” adds Dr. Azeem, who described himself as a friend of Bhatti’s.

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