Backgrounder - Diefenbaker Award and Recipients Shahbaz Bhatti
Shahbaz Bhatti was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan in 2008 and named Federal Minister for Minorities a portfolio he accepted because of the opportunity it offered to defend the oppressed and marginalized of Pakistan.
As Minister, Mr. Bhatti took steps to advance the rights of religious minorities. These included launching a national campaign to promote interfaith harmony. Mr. Bhatti also fought valiantly against abuses of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws during his time in government. Mr. Bhatti helped to found the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance in 1985 and subsequently chaired that organization. He also served as head of Pakistan’s Christian Liberation Front, which he formed in 1985. In 2002, he joined the Pakistan Peoples Party. Minister Bhatti visited Canada in February 2011 where he met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, among other government ministers. Shortly after his visit to Canada, Minister Bhatti was assassinated while on his way to work.