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Thursday, May 23, 2024

PTI government apologizes for a controversial ad

News Analysis |

MNA’s Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leaders, recorded their protest over the controversial public service announcement of the Punjab government that reportedly carried racist undertones against the Pashtun community. Both leaders said the advertisement has hugely hurt the sentiments of entire Pashtun community. Soon after their speeches, defense minister, Pervez Khattak apologized to them for a racist ad. “This advertisement is akin to provoking the people,” Khattak said. “[We have] directed the Punjab government to immediately stop this advertisement.”

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi echoed Khattak’s sentiments, adding: “Targeting a particular community flares tempers, and we oppose all such measures.” Earlier PTM leader Mohsin Dawar tweeted and expressed his anger over the advertisement being plated in Punjab. “Shocked to see this ad from Punjab govt. Is a Pashtun in Punjab to be considered a terrorist even if he is a victim of terrorism & preaching nonviolence? This is racial profiling. PTI should resist being used like this. If it’s a compulsion, then come up with something plausible.”

Mohsin said,

In response to Mohsin, minister for information Fawad Chudhary tweeted and said that he had ordered the authorities to immediately take the ad down.  “This advertisement was immediately taken off as soon it was brought to our attention,” he said on Twitter. “It was aired hardly a few times before channels were directed not to air such advertisement. I urge people not to circulate this rejected version.”

For many people, the stance of the Punjab government was deplorable. The leaders of PTM are now part of the national assembly of Pakistan and have taken oaths to respect and protect the constitution of the land. In this situation, the airing of a racist advertisement is ‘condemnable’. Senior journalist Hamid Mir tweeted “PTI Embarrassed PTI.FATA MNAs @Aliwazirna41 and @mjdawar protested against a Punjab Govt advertisement in which some Pashtun leaders were portrayed as terrorists two Pashtun federal ministers Pervez Khattak and Sheharyar Afridi apologised in NA and promised to take action”.

The PTI government in Punjab and Center needs to be careful while dealing with leaders of marginalized social groups e.g. Pashtun and Baloch. These people have suffered a lot and are still facing some of the worst kind of challenges. Hence, some of their demands are unquestionably justified and need careful attention and political will to be addressed properly and resolved in time.

Read more: The Man Behind Imran Khan! – Maleeha Hashmey

Interestingly, in 2017 during a search operation, it was claimed that Punjab government was specifically targeting Pashtun community residing in Lahore. Pashtun students and leaders condemned the move and demanded authorities to take some serious step to stop what they called racial profiling of Pashtuns. At that time, PTI’s chief Imran Khan also tweeted and condemned the racial profiling of Pashtuns. In his tweet Khan wrote, “I strongly condemn the racial profiling of Pushtuns in Punjab.”

PM Khan needs to remember his words and is encouraged to turn his words into actions.