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No excuse for bigotry

The senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership has responded to a clip of Punjab Information and Culture Minister Fayyaz Chohan going on a vile tirade against the Hindu community by removing him from his post. This is the right move, as to not reprimand the former minister for his hate speech would amount to indifference to Pakistani Hindus at best and encouragement of bigotry at worst. Although Chohan later clarified that his remarks were aimed at the Indian media and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime in New Delhi, this is no justification for such belligerent chauvinism. The leadership in Pakistan must maintain a dignified stance in the face of the ongoing hostility from New Delhi. Failure to do so will only result in the further marginalisation of religious minorities in Pakistan and weaken this country’s narrative regarding the present spat with India. It should not be forgotten that there are 4 million Hindus in Pakistan and that all of India is not Hindu either.
It must be asked, however, why Chohan would think he could get away with such hateful statements in the first place. The senior PTI leadership should have made it clear to party members from the very start that their as representatives of the party and the federal government they need to conduct themselves in a proper way and uphold the constitution of Pakistan that guarantees equal rights to all citizens regardless of their faith. Chohan had previously come under fire in September 2018 after passing disparaging remarks about stage and film actors — which were particularly disconcerting coming from a culture minister. Chohan should have been warned then and there that he would have to check his conduct.
Additionally, this episode comes days after the very public quarrel regarding Pakistan Television between Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Political Affairs Naeemul Haq. Though not related to bigotry against any particular group, that event also showed that certain members of the PTI simply do not know how to conduct themselves in public arena.



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