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March 6, 2019

Chohan removed over derogatory remarks against Hindu community

Top Story

March 6, 2019

LAHORE: Punjab Information and Culture Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan was removed from his ministry on Tuesday over his objectionable remarks against the Hindu community.

Syed Sumsam Bokhari, former state minister for information in the PPP era from 2008 to 2013, is likely to replace Chohan as the new information minister Punjab.

Chohan, who has literally been the most controversial cabinet member of Punjab since the PTI government came to existence in August 2018 and always remained in headlines for his objectionable remarks, either against stage actresses or journalists, was asked to resign by Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar in a meeting held on Tuesday. 

The Punjab government had to take the decision after Fayyaz Chohan’s remarks against the Hindu community drew the ire of his own party leadership, including Shireen Mazari, Naeemul Haq as well as other parties and civil society.

The remarks were made by Fayyaz Chohan on a day while Hindu community around the world was celebrating the festival of ‘Shiva Ratri’ which added to the criticism of the PTI government.

An explanation was called from Fayyaz, who met chief minister to clarify his position over the issue. However, on the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the CM sought resignation from the provincial information minister. “The PTI Punjab government has removed Fayyaz Chohan from the post of Punjab Information Minister following derogatory remarks about the Hindu community,” said the official tweet by the Punjab government. “Bashing someone’s faith shouldn’t be part of any narrative,” said the tweet. “Tolerance is the first and foremost pillar on which Pakistan was built,” the official tweet said. The decision of removing Fayyaz Chohan from the Punjab cabinet was welcomed by politicians of the Hindu community across the divide. The parliamentarians belonging to the Hindu community of Pakistan stated that targeting someone’s religious beliefs couldn’t be encouraged and the decision taken by prime minister deserved applaud.

Dr Mahesh Kumar, a PTI MNA, while talking to The News, hailed the decision of Fayyaz Chohan’s removal from office. He said the decision taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan was highly praiseworthy. Lal Malhi, the PTI MNA from Umerkot, while expressing similar views, said the remarks by Chohan had greatly disturbed the Hindu community of Pakistan, which had always sided with the country through thick and thin. He added that it was also more painful for the patriotic Hindu community of Pakistan which was celebrating the festival of ‘Shiva Ratri’ and the timely decision taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan had proved that the PTI strictly believed in respect to the people belonging to all sects, segments and religions.

Agencies add: Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar Tuesday accepted Fayyazul Hassan Chohan's resignation. The minister decided to tender his resignation after apologising for his anti-Hindu remarks as he faced severe criticism from senior members of his party and social media users.

Buzdar summoned Chohan at the Punjab CM House and asked him to tender his resignation. "The Punjab CM sought an explanation from Chohan regarding his anti-Hindu remarks. There were complaints against Chohan earlier as well, owing to which he was issued warnings," the sources said.

Chohan said in his apology, "I was addressing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian armed forces and their media not the Hindu community in Pakistan. I apologise if my remarks hurt the Hindu community in Pakistan. My remarks were in no way directed at Pakistan's Hindu community."

Chohan said, "I will respond befittingly to whoever looks at my nation with a dirty eye. Every last drop of my blood is for my nation."

Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday expressed displeasure with Fayyazul Hassan Chohan’s remarks over anti-Hindu remarks and said derogatory statement against any minority is not acceptable.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan Naeemul Haque, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and several others had slammed Chohan over his remarks. "Absolutely condemn this. No one has the right to attack anyone else's religion. Our Hindu citizens have given sacrifices for their country," Mazari tweeted.

"Hindus of Pakistan are as much part of the fabric of the nation as I am. Remember the flag of Pakistan is not just green... it’s not complete without the white which represents the minorities," Umar wrote on Twitter. Premier's special assistant said the PTI government "will not tolerate this nonsense.

"The derogatory and insulting remarks against the Hindu community by Fayyaz Chohan, the Punjab information minister, demand strict action. The PTI govt will not tolerate this nonsense from a senior member of the government or from anyone. Action will be taken after consulting the chief minister," Haque tweeted.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal also took to Twitter and said, "Pakistan proudly owns the white in the flag as much as the green, values contributions of the Hindu community and honours them as our own."

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said Pakistan values its minorities as well as contributions of the Hindu community. Taking to Twitter, the FO spokesperson said, "Pakistan proudly owns the white in the flag as much as the green, values contributions of the Hindu community and honours them as our own."

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