Hindus in Pakistan will be celebrating Holi in two weeks with its symbolic victory of Good over Evil, Light over Darkness and, as Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi put it last year “knowledge over ignorance” — if only someone would tell Fayazul Hassan Chohan that.
When Punjab’s illustrious culture and information minister isn’t taking jibes at politicians and their families, he targets religion.
The uninformed information minister also seems to believe that Hindus only live in India.
“Hey you cow urine-drinking people, listen up,” he said at a recent press conference. He was presumably addressing India. “We are Muslims and we have a flag, the flag of Maula Ali’s (AS) bravery, the flag of Hazrat Umar’s valor (AS).”
You don’t have that flag, it isn’t in your hands, he said. What this flag has to do with anything is beside the point.
Don’t operate under the delusion that you’re seven times better than us, he added. He also told India, they also shouldn’t operate under the delusion that their “geography” is bigger than Pakistan’s. “What we have, you can’t have, you idol-worshippers,” he said in a video that has gone viral on social media.
What Mr Chohan seems to be unaware of is that at least 1.6% of Pakistan’s population is Hindu. In fact, Hinduism is the second largest religion in Pakistan.
According to an estimate by the Pakistan Hindu Council, there are more than eight million Hindus living in Pakistan. Most live in Sindh.
The PTI has at least seven Hindu members of the National Assembly and four minority members in the Punjab Assembly.
The Punjab Assembly Handbook has a section on the Code of Conduct of its members but it says nothing about their behaviour outside the House. They can’t eat or drink in the assembly or read the newspaper but they can do whatever they like outside it.
SAMAA TV’s Islamabad bureau chief Khalid Azim Chaudhry said there is no specific law telling ministers what they can and cannot say. They are, however, governed by the laws of Pakistan.
Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code is particularly relevant here. “Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” are punishable under this offence.
Anyone could file a case against the minister for making these statements for “outraging” their religious feelings and insulting their faith. If he were convicted, he would automatically no longer be eligible to be a member of parliament under Article 63 of the Constitution.