DR Firdous Ashiq Awan should have known better. As adviser to the chief minister of Punjab, she carries the weight and authority of the government on her shoulders. This official gravitas, mandated to her through the office she holds, demands an exhibition of grace, decorum, and above all, restraint. Sadly, Dr Awan showed neither when she unleashed her anger on an assistant commissioner accompanying her to a market in Sialkot.

In a fit of rage caught on tape, Dr Awan reprimanded the official, a woman, in a most severe tone for what she termed a dereliction of duty. This she did in full view of the cameras and the accompanying retinue of people. The officer preferred to walk away from this tirade rather than engage the enraged adviser. The subsequent outrage in the media, and a strong protest by the chief secretary, forced Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to summon his adviser for an explanation. After the meeting, Dr Awan held a press conference and defended her actions. If she was repentant, she did an admirable job of disguising it.

Read: No one appreciated Firdous Ashiq Awan disrespecting the Sialkot assistant commissioner

Whatever the merits of the case in this situation, Dr Awan had absolutely no right to publicly denigrate and demean an officer of the government. Decorum and decency demanded that she express her displeasure in private, and if needed, report the assistant commissioner to her superiors. By humiliating the officer publicly, Dr Awan undermined her authority as a member of the district administration and also violated her dignity as a citizen of Pakistan.

This has sent a very bad signal to the bureaucracy which in any case is under pressure as a result of the PTI government’s attitude. If the chief minister takes no action, he would be seen as condoning his adviser’s tirade. This will further demoralise the bureaucracy at a time when the government needs it to work with full diligence. Mr Buzdar should therefore reprimand Dr Awan for her coarse behaviour and make sure she tenders a public apology.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021


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