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FAISALABAD: The ministry of science and technology has responded to allegations that Minister Fawad Chaudhry slapped journalist Sami Ibrahim, saying the incident should not be treated as a “clash between two institutions but as a conflict between two individuals”.

Mr Ibrahim had reportedly filed a complaint at the Mansoorabad police station in Faisalabad, accusing Mr Chaudhry of slapping him at a wedding on Friday night. A copy of the reported complaint — that is circulating on social media and was retweeted by Mr Ibrahim — alleged that Mr Chaudhry had slapped the journalist and cursed him without any provocation. It also accused the minister of threatening him.

Mr Ibrahim, president of Bol News, said anchorpersons Arshad Sharif and Rauf Klasra as well as Federal Investigation Agency director general Bashir Memon were present on the occasion when the minister along with his aides allegedly attacked him. Mr Ibrahim, however, did not mention the reason that led to the brawl.

The ministry’s statement on Saturday said Mr Chaudhry reacted after another person tried to wound his self-esteem. The response did not state the nature of the minister’s reaction.

“To term a patriotic Pakistani and government office holder as an agent of [enemy agencies] is contrary to moral and journalistic ethics,” it said.

“Along with protesting against [Chaudhry’s] actions, [people must] also ask Sami Ibrahim why he trampled over a patriotic Pakistani’s self esteem,” it added.

Meanwhile, the minister had to cancel his press conference at the science foundation office after journalists protested his attitude towards Mr Ibrahim. The media persons wore black armbands in protest.

They chanted slogans against the minister and the government and said such conduct would not be accepted. The latest dispute appears to be a result of a video broadcast by Mr Ibrahim a few weeks back. While in the United States, he appeared on TV to claim that Mr Chaudhry was conspiring to divide the ruling Pakistan Tehr­eek­-i-Insaf at the behest of the Pakistan Peoples Party. He did not say what was the basis of his claim, which was strongly denied by the minister.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2019