–Samsam Bokhari to replace Fayyazul Hassan Chohan as provincial information minister
–Chohan offers apology, says his remarks were targetted at Indian PM Modi, not Pakistani Hindus
–PM Imran, several other govt ministers slam Chohan over disparaging remarks
–PML-N condemns Chohan’s remarks, reaffirms solidarity with Pakistan’s Hindu community
LAHORE: Punjab Minister for Information and Culture Fayyazul Hassan Chohan has been sacked by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar a day after he made derogatory remarks against Hindu community in a gathering on Monday.
Punjab chief minister’s spokesperson Dr Shahbaz Gill confirmed the development, saying Chohan’s resignation was accepted by CM Usman Buzdar. It may be noted that Buzdar had asked Chohan to resign over his comments.
The decision to remove Chohan was also announced in a tweet by the official ruling party account.
“PTI Punjab government has removed Fayyaz Chohan from the post of Punjab Information Minister following derogatory remarks about the Hindu community. Bashing someone’s faith should not b a part of any narrative.Tolerance is the first & foremost pillar on which #Pakistan was built,” it tweeted.
PTI Punjab government has removed Fayyaz Chohan from the post of Punjab Information Minister following derogatory remarks about the Hindu community. Bashing someone’s faith should not b a part of any narrative.Tolerance is the first & foremost pillar on which #Pakistan was built. pic.twitter.com/uKJiReWc26
— PTI (@PTIofficial) March 5, 2019
According to media reports, the chief minister has decided to appoint Samsam Bukhari, a former PPP lawmaker, as Punjab’s information minister. Bukhari will take the oath on Wednesday.
Chohan, who had made disparaging remarks against the minority community on Monday, had attracted flak from his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership as well as civil society as they sought his resignation.
Chohan’s attempt at apology remained an exercise in futility.
“I was only addressing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and their armed forces and not the Hindu community residing in Pakistan,” said Chohan in a clarification.
He said he didn’t mean to target the [Pakistani] Hindu community and that his remarks were no way directed at them.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had also expressed displeasure over the remarks, saying such sort of statements were simply unacceptable.
Chohan held a meeting with Buzdar later in the day, according to Gill. Following the meeting, Chohan said that he was neither asked for nor has he resigned. However, the veracity of his denials were called into question later in the day when Gill confirmed that Chohan had indeed tendered his resignation.
Senior PTI leadership, including Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, Finance Minister Asad Umar and PM’s Special Assistant, Naeemul Haque also slammed Chohan – who has attracted attention for his tub-thumping manner of speech.
Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Faisal took to Twitter to denounce the derogatory statement and asserted that “Pakistan values contributions of the Hindu community & honours them as our own” while adding that “it proudly owns the white in the flag as much as the green”.
#Pakistan proudly owns the white in the flag as much as the green, values contributions of the Hindu community & honours them as our own.
— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@DrMFaisal) March 5, 2019
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari expressed her displeasure over the remarks and said that “our Hindu citizens have given sacrifices for their country”.
Absolutely condemn this. No one has the right to attack anyone else’s religion. Our Hindu citizens have given sacrifices for their country. Our PM’s msg is always of tolerance & respect & we cannot condone any form of bigotry or spread of religious hatred. https://t.co/uOTeyEg4Pb
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) March 4, 2019
Finance Minister Asad Umar noted that the white colour in the national flag represents the minority community.
“Quaid-e-Azam’s whole struggle was for a country free of discrimination,” he wrote.
Hindus of Pakistan are as much a part of the fabric of the nation as I am. Remember the flag of Pakistan is not just green….its not complete without the white which represents the minorities. Quaide Azam’s whole struggle was for a country free of discrimination
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) March 4, 2019
Reiterating the same, Naeemul Haque, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan, also denounced Chohan and called for a “strict action”.
The derogatory and insulting remarks against the Hindu community by Fayyaz Chohan the Punjab Info Minister demand strict action. PTI govt will not tolerate this nonsense from a senior member of the govt or from anyone. Action will be taken after consulting the Chief Minister.
— Naeem ul Haque (@naeemul_haque) March 4, 2019
Special Assistant to the premier, Zulfi Bukhari also felt embarrassed and stressed that “all faiths in Pakistan are and will always be equal and that must be the essence of our belief”.
Appalling & embarrassing stance against minorities that may reflect a personal opinion but certainly has nothing to do with what PM @ImranKhanPTI stands for or the spirit behind PTI.All faiths in Pakistan ARE and WILL ALWAYS be equal, that must be the essence of our belief. pic.twitter.com/L87gVPRtKL
— Sayed Z Bukhari (@sayedzbukhari) March 5, 2019
Actress Mahira Khan demanded an exemplary action for the successors to learn from.
— Mahira Khan (@TheMahiraKhan) March 4, 2019
PML-N CONDEMNS CHOHAN’S REMARKS:
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Parliamentary Party unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming its solidarity with the Hindu community of Pakistan while lauding their invaluable historic contribution in the progress and defence of Pakistan.
In a meeting of the parliamentary party, the top leadership of PML-N said that according to the constitution of Pakistan, all Pakistani Hindus are proud citizen with equal human and constitutional rights.
The meeting, while praised the evergreen loyalty of the Hindu community of Pakistan assured them that PML-N not only respects them but acknowledges them as an essential and vibrant element of the diverse construct of the proud nation of Pakistan.
The PML-N leadership underscored the homogeneity of independent cultures of Hindu Pakistanis and Muslim Pakistanis and stressed that the rights given to them under the constitution and law are final which are protected by the parliament of the country. These principle rights are enshrined in the ideology of the founder of the nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah, they said.
While strongly condemning the remarks passed by the Punjab’s information minister, the party said that such statements are private views of a very few ignorant individuals and do not represent the thoughts and feelings of the true majority of Pakistan.
The meeting declared that the Hindu professionals are a part of all major departments of in Pakistan and PML-N believes that like other essential constituents of the bouquet that is Pakistan, the Hindu community should foster further in its contribution towards a better more prosperous Pakistan.