PTI minister Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday acknowledged that he came to blows with anchorperson Mubashir Luqman at a wedding in Lahore.
"There was a scuffle that broke out. A small fight broke out. In a fight, as usually is the case, he may have got one (slap) in, I may have hit one," said the minister during Geo News talk show "Naya Pakistan" on Sunday evening. This is the second such incident involving the federal minister; he slapped journalist Sami Ibrahim during a wedding in June last year.
Meanwhile Luqman, who had refrained from publicly commenting on the incident, submitted an application to register a First Information Report (FIR) against the minister, it emerged late Sunday night.
The Valima ceremony of Punjab Irrigation Minister Mohsin Leghari’s son, where the altercation took place, was held earlier in the day. Eyewitnesses told Dawn that PTI leaders Jahangir Tareen, Ishaq Khakwani and Chaudhry were busy in conversation when Luqman arrived. They said a vitriolic exchange of words took place between the two (Chaudhry and Luqman). The minister told Luqman that he would sue him for defamation.
"Chaudhry threatened Luqman that he would not spare him, then slapped and shoved him," an eyewitness said.
As the two scuffled, PTI leaders and some journalists stepped in.
The physical altercation was apparently over a video Luqman uploaded on his YouTube channel in which he and anchorperson Rai Saqib discussed TikTok stars Hareem Shah and Sandal Khattak, and videos allegedly involving Chaudhry and Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan.
The show claimed that the two girls had several videos of the science and technology minister and could release them any time. The show also claimed that the Punjab information minister had close links with the girls and had been introducing them to top political figures of the PTI government.
Luqman moves to register FIR
In his application submitted at the Model Town police station late Sunday night, the anchorperson said he was attending the event along with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Tareen and various federal ministers and provincial ministers.
Luqman said he was talking to his friends when Chaudhry attacked him along with 10-12 of his mussala ghundas (private guards).
"They subjected me to severe violence," he said, adding that after threatening him of serious consequences and of murder, they left the site of the incident.
According to Luqman, two witnesses had seen the whole incident.
He claimed that prior to this incident, the federal minister had called and threatened to have him killed if he did not stop his allegations.
In his application, Luqman said a case should be registered against Chaudhry and the others. While his application has been submitted, the FIR has not yet been registered.
Fawad defends himself
Fawad first confirmed the scuffle on Twitter and later while talking to Geo News.
"I am a minister but that doesn't mean my respect can be allowed to be tarnished like this. It can't be that anyone should be able to accuse us and then we should be told not to react."
In response to whether he thought he did the right thing, Chaudhry said: "Of course. It was my right. When you level such allegations anyone will react."
Chaudhry denied reports that he had guards around him during the alleged brawl. "People who know me know that I don't roam around with guards. In Islamabad I am alone and here too I was alone," he said.
When the host pointed out that this was the second time Chaudhry had slapped someone and asked whether it was a case of poor impulse control, the minister said: "Others criticise too. But Ibrahim and Luqman, can you honestly say they are journalists? They are all in the profession incidentally."
"Everyone has a tolerance level. I face a lot of criticism. But I have not even blocked people on Twitter," said Chaudhry.
He said that he had complained to the prime minister's aide on accountability, Shahzad Akbar, about Luqman's show and had also called the director general of Federal Investigation Agency's cyber wing, but did not get the desired response.
When the talk show host expressed concern over the fact that a minister had been unable to move the relevant organisations for a response and what that means for the common man, Chaudhry said that was what the PMRA (Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority) law had been established for.
"But the problem is, the army says they will do their own accountability, the judges say the same, and the media also says they will make their own laws and do their own accountability.
"So then the politicians are left to do this."