Last week, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) was awakened by a 2:20 a.m. call. His first response was to fear bad news about his children or grandchildren. But when the American ambassador to Pakistan came on the line, Wolf immediately knew that his friend Shahbaz Bhatti had been killed. Bhatti was Pakistan’s federal minister of minority affairs, the only Christian in the cabinet and an advocate for the rights of religious minorities.
Wolf had sent letter after letter to the State Department, warning that Bhatti’s life was “in grave danger.” In December, along with then-Sen. Sam Brownback, he wrote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “to ask that Ambassador Cameron Munter be immediately instructed to communicate to the most senior officials of the government of Pakistan that Minister Bhatti’s security is a matter of high importance to the United States.”
The recriminations are now thick in Islamabad, but for whatever reason the Pakistani government did not protect Bhatti. On March 2, as he left his mother’s house for a cabinet meeting, his black Corolla was ambushed. Bhatti was shot at least 20 times. The killers left behind a pamphlet claiming credit for the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda.