LAHORE - Former Special Advisor to Prime Minister for National Harmony and All Pakistan Minorities Alliance Chairman, Dr Paul Bhatti denied the reports that he had fled to Italy after receiving threats from terrorists, and vowed to continue the mission of his assassinated brother Shahbaz Bhatti.

“It is true that currently I am in Italy, but to honour some commitments made in advance and will return to Pakistan next week,” Dr Paul told The Nation on telephone.

Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated in March 2, 2011, a few months after Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was killed on January 4.

In his message on the occasion of third death anniversary of his brother, Dr Paul said that he would continue the struggle to make Pakistan a safe place for minorities as envisaged by Father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He said that he had great love for Pakistan and could not even think of leaving the minorities in the lurch.

Paul said that he had dedicated his life to continue the mission for which his brother sacrificed his life. “Following the martyrdom of my brother, I decided to leave Italy, where I lived for several years, only to accomplish the mission of my brother who had devoted his life for the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan,” said Paul. He said that he would return to the country soon to organise seminars on inter-faith harmony. He said that he had great respect and love for Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) who had set an example to live in peace with minorities.

Stressing the need for inter-faith harmony, Dr Paul said that followers of different faiths could be united on the common points of their religions. He believed that Islam was a great protector of the rights of minorities, but some extremists were bent upon defaming this great religion to advance their personal agenda. “But I am not afraid of them,” he added. 

After the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, his sister and mother were forced to leave the country. They sought refuge in Canada, where one of his brothers, Peter, already lived. But another of his brothers, Sikandar, still lives in Khushpur, Faisalabad.