Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan displayed uncivilised behaviour once again when she slapped fellow panelist MNA Qadir Mandokhel during a talk show recording on Express News. While we all know this is not the first time she has thrown a tantrum, it is apparent that her action will be appreciated by her seniors who seem to encourage their aggressive and foulmouthed spokespersons.
Last month, the ruling party supporters were defending the SACM’s public rebuke of Assistant Commissioner Sialkot Sonia Sadaf. This time too, they are suggesting that Mandokhel must have said something to provoke Firdous Ashiq Awan after which she resorted to violence. In the video message released following the incident, Awan claimed that the PPP MNA used abusive language against her family which is why she had to do what she did. She also said that she would take legal action against the PPP leader for what he said about her.
It must be stated clearly that violence cannot be justified on the pretext that one could not control themselves after hearing what the other person had said. If Dr Firdous had found Mandokhel’s remarks offensive and unfair, she should have asked the anchor to handle the panelist. She also had the option to simply leave the show as protest against her fellow panelist’s remarks. But she chose to slap him instead. Her behaviour not only shows that the ruling party and its representatives have become increasingly intolerant towards their opponents and will go to any extent to silence them, but it also sets a dangerous precedent.
How can one expect ordinary citizens to resolve their feuds in a civilised manner without resorting to violence when government officials are setting such examples? Moreover, we should not be surprised by the language used by supporters of the PTI on social media and the way they run hateful campaigns inciting violence against critics of the government because this is precisely what their leaders are doing.
Prime Minister Imran Khan must take immediate notice of this behaviour because it is bringing a bad name to his government and the ruling party. Such toxicity in the political discourse serves no one. By encouraging the use of force against political opponents and critics in this manner, the ruling party is doing a disservice to its own image.
Instead of adopting this approach, the government should improve its performance and let that improvement speak for itself. This is the only way they can salvage their declining popularity and image.
Government should ensure that its representatives who appear on media act and speak respectfully. It is about time PM Imran Khan broke his silence over this intolerant attitude of his ministers and advisers and put an end to this culture of bullying and abuse.