'Never underestimate power of social media': Twitterati welcome Chohan's removal over anti-Hindu remarks
Former Punjab information and culture minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan's highly problematic comments against members of the Hindu community on February 24 would have virtually faded into oblivion, had it not been for a tweet posted more than a week later by Pakistani human rights activist Kapil Dev.
"This is what we get in response to our love & patriotism for #Pakistan from @PTIPunjabPK Minister @Fayazchohanpti using derogatory words for #Hindus ... without realizing that #4million Hindus live here," Dev wrote on Monday evening.
Chohan, notorious by now for his blustering style of speech, was addressing an event in Lahore when responding to India's rhetoric in the aftermath of the Pulwama bombing, he conflated Indians with Hindus and used disparaging words for the religious community.
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The minister claimed that his comments were directed against Indians and not Pakistani Hindus, but as a video clip accompanying Dev's tweet of the derisive remarks went viral, Twitterati used the hashtag '#SackFayazChohan' to ask the government to take action against him and remove him from his post.
The pressure worked, and less than 24 hours later, Chohan was sent packing.
Soon after the announcement, Pakistani and Indian netizens took to Twitter to laud the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government for swiftly moving against their minister and more importantly, to underscore the undeniable power of social media in today's hyperconnected world.
"I am so glad & relieved. This is [the] power of tweeple," Dev tweeted after Chohan's resignation. "It all started from my single tweet & within 24 hours #FayazulHassan is sacked."
"Never underestimate the power of social media! One tweet can remove a minister from his seat," wrote Islamabad resident Ali Haider.
The PTI on Twitter said Chohan was removed from his post because "bashing someone’s faith should not b[e] a part of any narrative."
Journalist and former Dawn editor Abbas Nasir commended Prime Minister Imran Khan for the prompt action.
"Kudos to Imran Khan for sacking Fayyaz Chohan. Building a plural Pakistan will happen brick by brick. Let this be one of the first."
Columnist Mosharraf Zaidi termed it a "bold decision", saying it resonated with him and his like-minded friends.
"However, given that the stench of Faizabad still haunts our democracy, we should think carefully about the delicate balance all govts must tread," he wrote.
Journalist Azhar Abbas said Chohan's removal was "A huge step in the right direction showing zero tolerance for racism specially against minorities".
Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, lauded the people of Pakistan "for standing united against religious extremism and bigotry".
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah compared the accountability of public figures in Pakistan over their statements with those in India.
"In Pakistan a state minister is sacked for his remarks against Hindus. In India a state Governor isn’t even reprimanded for his public call to boycott & ostracise all Kashmiri muslims. We like to compare ourselves to Pakistan so compare this fact as well."
Journalist Beena Sarwar said the action against Chohan was something for Pakistan to be proud of and stressed the need to keep supporting a plural and inclusive vision for the country "beyond optics".
Journalist Murtaza Solangi said Chohan did not deserve to be a minister in the largest province of Pakistan in the first place.
His views were echoed by Ziad Zafar, who said the episode was a lesson in why "grossly unfit individuals" should not be appointed to key positions in the government.
Header photo: APP