Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan

Lahore: Information and Culture minister of Punjab province of Pakistan Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan was asked to resign on Tuesday following his anti-Hindu remarks. The minister’s remark — that Hindus are a cow urine-drinking community — was criticised by senior party leaders and the minority community in a Pakistan whose Prime Minister Imran Khan is desperate to project a tolerant image of his.

Chohan was, later in the day, removed from his post.

Geo TV quoted sources to report that Chief Minister of Pakistan Punjab Province Usman Buzdar summoned Chohan at the chief minister’s residence and asked him to resign.

Sources said the chief minister of Punjab sought clarification from Chohan for his anti-Hindu remarks.

Sources said complaints about Chohan had been received before this, for which he had been warned in the past.

Earlier, Chohan had apologised after his colleagues in the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government and social media users slammed him for his comment.

Chohan said he was not targeting Pakistani Hindus but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian armed forces and the Indian media. He said if his comment had hurt the Hindu community in Pakistan, he would apologise. “My comment was not against Pakistan’s Hindu community in any way,” he said.

A politician of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Newamul Haq said that the government of his party would not tolerate remarks targeting any community.

Federal minister of human rights Shirin Mazari and his colleague in finance ministry Asad Umar condemned Chohan’s comment too.

Umar tweeted, “Hindus of Pakistan are as much a part of the fabric of the nation as I am. Remember the flag of Pakistan is not just green… its (sic) not complete without the white which represents the minorities. Quaide Azam’s whole struggle was for a country free of discrimination.”

Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal tweeted, “#Pakistan proudly owns the white in the flag as much as the green, values contributions of the Hindu community & honours them as our own.”

According to government estimates, there are 73 lakh Hindus in Pakistan. However, the community says that more than 90 lakh Hindus live in the country. This is the largest minority community in Pakistan.

Most of the Hindus in Pakistan are settled in the Sindh province, where they share culture, tradition and language with the Muslim community and yet are reported to live as second class citizens of that country, with hundreds fleeing to India whenever the opportunity arrives.