ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on Wednesday apologised for remarks made by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Informa­tion and Broadcas­ting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan regarding Tuesday’s earthquake which left nearly two scores of people dead, hundreds of others wounded and many houses and infrastructure devastated in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

“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,” Dr Mazari said in a tweet.

“Since government means collective responsibility, I apologise 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 said in another tweet.

In a widely shared video, Dr Awan could be heard saying while speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad on Tuesday: “It’s a sign of change that even the earth has shifted. Even [the earth] does not want to accept this change, [which has come] so rapidly.”

Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, during a television programme on Tuesday night, had also apologised on behalf of SAPM Dr Awan.

Dr Awan also addressed the outrage her statements had caused, saying in a tweet: “We had been talking about the effects of social media. The earthquake struck suddenly and the attendees were worried. I made those remarks in light of [our conversation] in order to lift the spirits of the [scared] audience.”

In a video statement released on Twitter, the special assistant to the prime minister on informa­tion and broadcas­ting said: “A fabricated, baseless and negative report about me is circulating on social media and electronic media which is being labelled as [my] comment on the earthquake.’’

Dr Awan also went to Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday to see rehabilitation activities.

She said she had assured the AJK prime minister that the government of Pakistan was standing by the people of Kashmir in this hour of trial.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2019