The cause of religious freedom is one that has changed my family’s lives and mine forever. It was a rainy morning on the 2 nd March 2011, when my brother Shahbaz Clement Bhatti, then Federal Minister for Minorities in Pakistan, was killed in broad daylight. His determination to stop all kinds of injustices and to protect the oppressed and marginalised communities cost him his life. When Shahbaz was killed, I had a choice to either continue the life I had in Italy, or pick up the baton left by my brother and continue the task he had set himself.
My conscience left me in no doubt; I believe I was directed by God to continue his vision and mission, protecting those whose basic human rights are too often violated because of discrimination, extremism and religious hatred.
Consequently, I took up the role of Federal Minister of National Harmony and Minority Affairs in the Pakistan Government, as well as the Chairmanship of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA). This was established by my late brother with the aim of ensuring that all religious minorities have a voice on one platform. Simultaneously, I established the Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust, so that the legacy of my late brother would continue to promote religious freedom, human equality and social justice. I never thought that I would come to work in Pakistan after setting up my medical practice in Italy.
I would have been compromising personal and professional freedoms that I enjoyed. That being said, one month before Shahbaz’s death, we had a very significant discussion and he asked me to come and work in Pakistan. I thought he was joking at the time and replied: “You are calling me from paradise to hell.” He immediately replied: “The way to paradise lies in Pakistan.” His strong, unwavering conviction and discussion with me always was that non-involvement is not an option; we are obligated being one human family to struggle for those who are too weak to speak and defend themselves.