Even in the present climate in Pakistan, this was too absurd, and too obvious a swipe at the Christian minority to stand. An update on this story. “Islamabad, victory for Paul Bhatti and APMA: Jesus Christ is no longer banned in texting,” from AsiaNews, November 24:
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – The commitment of the Special Advisor for religious minorities Paul Bhatti coupled with the demonstrations of parliamentarians and activists of the All Pakistan Minority Alliance (APMA) has been successful: the government of Pakistan has decided to withdraw the name of Jesus Christ from the list of censored words – a “black list” of 1600 words of an obscene, pornographic or religious reference — that cannot be used in phone text messages. Among gestures judges “extreme”, but always peaceful and in compliance with the law, was that of an elected official from the province of Sindh Ampa: Saleem Khokhar, who sat on the floor during the Assembly meeting, the empty chair, he said, would be occupied again only after deletion of Christ’s name from the list of banned words. Paul Bhatti also denies reports that circulated yesterday on some news sites, that the cancellation was linked to the intervention of Akram Gill, Minister of State for Harmony (a sort of department secretary).
Interviewed by AsiaNews, Paul Bhatti, brother of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Catholic minister for religious minorities assassinated on 2 March, confirms the commitment for the “rehabilitation” of the name “Jesus Christ”, banned last week along with a thousand words considered “pornographic in nature” or of a confessional nature. In the letter sent Nov. 14 to telephone operators, Garan ordered the installation of communications software to block forbidden words – in Urdu and English – including “naked, gay and … Jesus Christ.”
The special adviser for religious minorities to the prime minister, with the status of Federal Minister for National Harmony, has repeatedly raised the question in Pakistani media, “with the full support” of all parliamentarians and APMA activists who have launched a protest campaign. In a later Paul Bhatti spoke directly to Prime Minister Gilani and President of the antitrust for Telecommunications Mohammed Yaseen. “We had just finished the talks — he said — when the news of the cancellation of Jesus Christ from the list arrived.”
Paul Bhatti does not hide the satisfaction with the work done by his ministry and APMA, which was co-founded and presided over by Shahbaz Bhatti for a long time and he thanked “the Pakistani government for the good news”, while confirming “the mutual commitment to minorities and the executive’s “program to promote interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence of the different souls that make up the country.
In recent days the story had captured the attention of international media. The Pakistani government finally ended the controversy, restoring legitimacy to the rights of Christians. However, there are those – in Pakistan – who have been wrongly credited with having obtained the cancellation of the name “Jesus” from the list. Some Catholic websites have emphasized the role of Akram Gill, under-secretary of the Ministry for Harmony, for having “raised the issue in the Cabinet of Ministers”. In fact, says Paul Bhatti, Akram Gill (a Catholic) has never participated in any meeting of the executive and has never given “personal interviews”. Our collaborative work with the government, says Bhatti, “was crucial”, the work of APMA and the Parliamentary Assembly of Sindh, with its “sensational” protest combined with the “sensitivity” shown by the executive and the Pakistani leadership.
“There are too many inaccuracies and false information in Pakistan – The Special Adviser to the Prime Minister concluded – especially when it comes to Christians, minorities and sectarian issues. And it is right and proper to promote correct information. “(DS)