, interview with Shahbaz Bhatti
This book by Mgr Dino Pistolato, director of the Venice chapter of Caritas, is about someone he met in his trip to northern Pakistan a few months after the October 2005 earthquake that killed 100,000 people and destroyed countless buildings. During his work on a solidarity plan for the Patriarchate of Venice in cooperation with the Diocese of Islamabad he met Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who at that time was closely involved in rescuing survivors. He got to know this young Pakistani man, an adviser to Benazir Bhutto until her assassination, and the current president of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), an organisation that represents Pakistan's marginalised communities and religious minorities, operating on several fronts on behalf of the needy, the poor and the persecuted.
In this bilingual (English-Italian) text, Bhatti can tell his story and does so in a simple and direct way. In doing so he also tells the story of his people and his nation, a place where Christians are but a tiny minority, living in harsh conditions, threatened by persecution, especially in its northern regions where terrorist groups hide out.
Words flow in this straightforward conversation; a believer's perception is allowed to describe realityno sugary talk here, nor any ideologically driven exposé; just a chance to "build" communion, justice and peace around oneself and every fellow human being, however tragic the circumstances.
Born in a Catholic family, Shahbaz Bhatti is not afraid to show that he is one with Jesus Christ, his actions driven by this sense of belonging. Tested in its strength, his is the faith that kneels before God so as to stand up in front of men, and the hope that is not afraid to role up the sleeves. He certainly brooks no evasion of his social responsibilities, the simple and surprising force of Christian charity, capable of actual universality. Why does he do it? "All I want is a place at Jesus' feet," is his answer. "All I want is for my life, nature and actions to speak for me and say that I am following Jesus Christ."
In reading this short but intense book about people and events from the world's periphery, one is reminded of a well-known passage from Pope Benedict XVI's teachings, who said that "in the Church there is no periphery because where Christ is, the whole centre is there", pushed to further know Christ's ideas "so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work" (Tim 2, 3:17).
CHRISTIANS IN PAKISTAN
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