LAHORE: What appears to be a sign of growing intolerance for tough media queries among Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government’s ministers, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, who holds information and culture portfolio in Punjab, too expressed annoyance over a journalist’s question and lectured him on “media ethics” at an event hosted by Jamaat-i-Islami here on Tuesday.

The minister was talking to the media after attending an event held to pay tribute to JI former emir late Qazi Hussain Ahmed when a journalist sought his response to comments made by party’s sitting chief Sirajul Haq, who had said the PTI government was not making any efforts to turn Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state -- Riyasat-i- Madina -- as prime minister calls it.

The question seemed to have touched a raw nerve of the minister, who responded in a harsh tone, saying the media had become so “inconsiderate and provocative” that it neither considered an occasion, nor sensitivity of the matter and kept asking negative questions.

“I am here to honour late Qazi Hussain Ahmed. Is it an occasion to ask questions that may fan political differences? You should not misuse freedom and develop sense of responsibility,” he retorted.

The journalists, however, maintained that Mr Chohan was the one who started his routine political harangue, showing usual refrain for the opposition, calling it a “thief” and “corrupt”. The media query was only in continuation of what the minister was already saying, they argued, demanding retraction of the comments by Chohan and seeking an apology. The minister, however, left without obliging the media.

A couple of days earlier, PTI federal minister for water Faisal Vawda had also taken the journalists on in Islamabad for asking, what he considered, “provocative question” during a press talk.

Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, Senator Sirajul Haq said although elections had been held in the country and the people cast their vote with new hopes and expectations, the situation had only worsened.

Praising Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Mr Haq said that the late JI leader fought against the political system based on injustice and exploitation throughout his life. He said the JI workers and leaders were following in the footprints of late Ahmed to unite the masses against feudal lords who were a symbols of oppression and tyranny.

He said that the “oppressive and corrupt ruling mafia” had taken all political parties as hostage and were protecting their selfish interests by changing parties.

Haq said the JI wanted to end the hold of “corrupt elite” and establish the system given by the Holy Quran and the Sunnah that would save all citizens from the slavery of others and end exploitation.

He said that Pakistan and the Muslim world needed an ideological leadership, which always looked towards Allah Almighty for help and guidance and not the IMF. “It should be a leadership in whose words and deeds there should be complete harmony and that would truly act as a spokesman for the Ummah.”

He said that late Qazi Husain Ahmed had all these qualities.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2019