Insensitive Remarks on Earthquake: Twitter schools PTI’s Firdous Ashiq Awan

Dr. Awan’s insensitive remarks irked the public. She made fun of a tragedy that has claimed the lives of over 20 people. More than 300 are injured. Will she apologize?

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Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan on Tuesday issued uncalled for and highly insensitive remarks about the earthquake in Pakistan. She left many confused with her insensitive quip about the earthquake that left, over 20 people dead and injured more than 300. Social media slammed Dr. Awan for her insensitive remarks and demanded her resignation.

The minister made these comments at a ceremony. She was smiling and trying to entertain the audience while she made fun of the earthquake.

PTI Punjab government has removed Fayyaz Chohan from the post of Punjab Information Minister following derogatory remarks about the Hindu community.

As the tremors were felt across the country, the PM’s assistant compared them to the ‘Tabdeeli’ of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government. “Land has expressed by moving and shaking that change has come,” she said.

In a tweet, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari called it “shameful and unforgivable”.

“The Information SAPM’s remarks on the earthquake were insensitive, absolutely inappropriate and most certainly had nothing to do with govt viewpoint. Human suffering can never be made light of, said Dr. Mazari.

She further apologized since the responsibility in a parliamentary form of government is collective. “Since Govt means collective responsibility I apologize for the shock and hurt felt by the SAPM’s insensitive and inappropriate remarks on the earthquake and her jocular tone on an issue of human suffering,” she wrote on Twitter.

However, after a backlash on Twitter, the special assistant said she made the comment to lighten the mood as a wave of panic had run across the hall due to the intensity of the tremors.

Prominent columnist Benazir Shah also expressed her grief and said: 19 people dead, 300 injured. And this is what Firdous Ashiq Awan has to say.

Ali Salman Alvi, journalist, and blogger, also slammed Dr. Awan. “Firdous Ashiq Awan casually jokes about the #earthquake, without realizing that it could bring a devastating tragedy. This is beyond deplorable. The special adviser continues to act as a loose cannon. Shameful and insensitive,” he said.

Journalist Ihtisham Ul Haq demanded her resignation and maintained that Pakistan needs a better person to be represented. “Firdos Ashiq Awan must resign, Pakistan deserves a better face with some sense,” he wrote.

Ali Moeen Nawazish called it the real change.

This is not for the first time that a minister issued insensitive comments. Former Punjab Minister for Information and Culture Fayyazul Hassan Chohan was also sacked by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar a day after he made derogatory remarks against the Hindu community in a gathering.

Read more: Chohan faces severe backlash for derogatory remarks against Hindus

Pakistani journalists, civil society and public intellectuals took to Twitter and demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan, chief of the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, to sack him for his behavior unbecoming of a minister. Citizens on Twitter maintained that Pakistan is for all and nobody has the right to hurt the feelings of any community.

The decision to remove Chohan was also announced in a tweet by the ruling party on its official handle. “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.

It is yet to be seen how the senior leadership of the PTI deals with the situation. It is worth noting Fawad Ch. was the minister for information but later on the PM replaced him with Dr. Awan.