Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister of minorities, was shot eight times by gunmen who ambushed him as he stepped into his car, police officials said. A pamphlet written by a group of Taliban from the province of Punjab was found near the scene in a middle-class residential neighborhood, the officials said."
It looks like the NYT is wrong. There is another Christian minister in Pakistan's parliament, a woman: "And then there was one. Of the three brave Pakistani politicians who stood up for Aasia Bibi, an embattled Christian woman flung on to death row last year, just one is still alive: Sherry Rehman. The liberal parliamentarian from Karachi, known for her glamorous style and outspoken views, spearheaded efforts to reform the much-abused blasphemy law after Bibi, a mother of four, was sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad."
Also the NYT article says "The [blasphemy] law, introduced in the 1970s, calls for the death penalty for those accused of speaking against the Prophet Muhammad." According to this article, the blasphemy laws were introduced in the 80s, not the 70s: 'Section 295C was introduced into the Pakistani legal system in the 1980s by the military dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq as part of his broader effort to Islamize laws in Pakistan. It stipulates that "derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet … either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly … shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine." '
It should be noted, in defense of the NYT, that Zia-ul-Haq, the schmuck who introduced the blasphemy laws, put himself in charge of Pakistan in 1977, and I'm sure the schmuck began his Islamization policies immediately: "General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (Punjabi, Urdu: محمد ضیاء الحق ; 12 August 1924 – 17 August 1988) was the sixth President of Pakistan from July 1977 to his death in August 1988. Distinguished by his role in the Black September in Jordan military operation in 1970, he was appointed Chief of Army Staff in 1976. After widespread civil disorder, he overthrew ruling Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a bloodless coup d'état on 5 July 1977 and became the state's third ruler to impose martial law. He initially ruled as Chief Martial Law Administrator, but later installed himself as the President of Pakistan in September 1978."
I did not know that Zia-ul-Huq had a role in the Black September massacre until I read the above. More on that:
On September 15, King Hussein declared martial law. The next day, Jordanian tanks (the 60th Armored Brigade of the Jordanian Army) attacked the headquarters of Palestinian organizations in Amman; the army also attacked camps in Irbid, Salt, Sweileh, Baq'aa, Wehdat and Zarqa. Then the head of Pakistani training mission to Jordan, Brigadier Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (later Chief of Army Staff and President of Pakistan), took command of the 2nd division. However the Jordanians could not devote all their attention to the Palestinians. The 3rd Armoured Division of the Iraqi Army had remained in Jordan after the 1967 war. The Iraqi regime sympathised with the Palestinians, and it was unclear whether the division would intervene on the part of the Palestinians. Thus the 99th Brigade of the Jordanian 3rd Armoured Division had to be retained to watch the Iraqi division.
Very interesting. No wonder the US was cool with the Jordanian king and Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.