Punjab Information Minister, Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan, speaks to the media during a visit to Governor House in Lahore, in this file photo. (Photo courtesy of PTI Punjab)
Pakistan has sacked an outspoken provincial minister for making derogatory remarks about the country’s Hindu minority amid tensions with India in the aftermath of a Feb. 14 terrorist attack on Indian soldiers.
Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan, a Punjab minister for culture and information, was asked to resign after his comments caused outrage.
Speaking at the Lahore Press Club on March 4, Chohan called Hindus “idol worshippers and cow urine drinking people.”
Although the minister later clarified that his comments were aimed at the Indian government, several members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party took to social media to demand action against him.
The comments came amid tensions between Pakistan and India triggered by a Feb. 14 suicide bombing by Jaish-e-Muhammad, a militant group India says Pakistan is harboring.
The bombing reportedly killed about 40 Indian troops.
Naeem ul Haq, a political adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan, said the government could not tolerate Chohan's behavior.
“The derogatory and insulting remarks against the Hindu community by Fayyaz Chohan the Punjab Information Minister demands strict action. The PTI government will not tolerate this nonsense from a senior member of the government or from anyone. Action will be taken after consulting the chief minister,” Haq said in a statement.
The PTI also issued a statement condemning the comments and announcing Chohan’s sacking.
“[The] PTI Punjab government has removed Fayyaz Chohan as Punjab Information Minister following derogatory remarks about the Hindu community. Bashing someone’s faith should not be a part of any narrative. Tolerance is the first and foremost pillar on which Pakistan was built,” it said.
This was not the first time Chohan has courted controversy.
Last year, Chohan was forced to apologize for making offensive remarks about two well-known stage actresses who appeared in photos which he found “vulgar.”
Rights activists hailed Imran Khan’s government for taking prompt action against Chohan.
“This is unprecedented. The government has sacked Punjab Information Minister Fayyaz Chohan for anti-Hindu hate speech. Thanks Imran Khan,” Kashif Chaudhry, a rights activist, said.
“Kudos to Imran Khan for sacking Fayyaz Chohan. Building a pluralist Pakistan will happen brick by brick. Let this be one of the first,” Abbas Nasir, a former editor of Pakistan’s English daily Dawn, tweeted.