It has hardly been one month since the cricketer turned politician Imran Khan took oath as Prime Minister of Pakistan, and his government has already started facing some controversies. The one month period is indeed not enough to give a final judgment on the Naya Pakistan’s performance. But, the decisions that the new government has made are enough to let the citizens evaluate where does it stand in term of tackling some serious issues. Unfortunately, Imran Khan’s government seems so weak to resolve such serious problems the country is facing and the recent racist ad being aired on TV channels is one such example. The under-discussion advertisement by Pubjab government which aims at spreading awareness against the terrorism and educating citizens on taking precautionary measures has ended up promoting bigotry.
Backlash Against the Racist Ad
The allegedly racist ad, that showed a Pashtoon nationalist leader speaking to the people as promoting hate speech faced a backlash from the people of all ethnic backgrounds.
Mohsin Dawar, an MNA from FATA and prominent PTM (Pashtoon Tahafuz Movement) leader shared this video on Twitter and called upon information minister Fawad Chouhdry for allowing such racist ad to go on air.
Shocked to see this ad from Punjab govt. Is a Pashtun in Punjab to be considered a terrorist even if he is a victim of terrorism & preaching non violence? This is racial profiling. PTI should resist being used like this. If its a compulsion, then come up with something plausible. pic.twitter.com/JpFQVTr2yK
— Mohsin Dawar (@mjdawar) September 15, 2018
Criticism from Twitterati
It was more likely for Mohsin Dawar to notice the ad because the politician is already struggling for the civil rights of Pashtoon people. But he was not the only one to slam government as there were many others who couldn’t resist criticizing the ad for the same reason.
Mr. Mohsin Dawar @mjdawar this irresponsible & deliberate attempt of Government of Punjab to further disintegrate Pakistani Nation is condemnable. All the Punjabis must denounce & ridicule such policies of divide & rule, in practice for the last 70 years.#Headlines #DailyJang https://t.co/I0t9kkmN1V
— BiLaL BuTT (@bilalbut) September 16, 2018
Why They Didn’t Show the Actual Terrorists
The Ad showed Manzoor Pashteen, a Pashtoon nationalist leader who is fighting for discrimination against his community. The critics asked why the ad didn’t show the terrorists like Ihsanullah Ihsan or TLP leader Khadim Rizvi who is popular for spreading hate through his fiery speeches. It was ironic that the man who was fighting for the rights of a particular ethnic group was branded as a hate monger, while there was no mention of religious extremists.
Shameful. Not just a Pashtun but Manzoor Pashteen is shown in this ad when hate speech is mentioned. Why not depict actual hate mongers like Khalid Rizvi or Ehsanullah Ehsan? https://t.co/kkRSg3tVaj
— Umber Khairi 💙 #FBPE #ProEu (@umberkhairi) September 16, 2018
And, people were asking why a man responsible for murdering innocent kids in Peshawar was spared while a human rights activist was depicted as spreading hate speech.
Need I understand more why he came on tv after murdering our kids. While Manzoor , Mohsin choices of Pashtun from Fata declared as hate mongers. Our citizenship defined by these choices of state. pic.twitter.com/Xk90PfgfsW
— Mona (@mo2005) September 16, 2018
PTI Government’s Inability to Remove the Ad
The information minister of Pakistan, Fawad Hussain said in a tweet that channels were directed not to air the advertisement.
This advertisement was immediately taken off as soon it was brought to our attn, it was aired hardly a few times before channels were directed not to air such advertisement. I urge people not to circulate this rejected version https://t.co/6wFtgbCsOl
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) September 15, 2018
But, according to Moshin Dawar, no action was taken as the advertisement was still being aired on news channels. In another tweet, he asked Fawad Hussain, “If you are not in control, then please tell us who is?”
Dear @fawadchaudhry, it is very worrying that despite your announcement, the ad is still being aired. If you are not in control, then please tell us, who is? Who do we ask to take down this insult to all Pashtuns, which is also harming the sanctity of public messages in Pakistan?
— Mohsin Dawar (@mjdawar) September 16, 2018
The racist ad is not the only controversy that Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan is facing. Recently, it was the economist Atif Mian’s removal from the Economic Advisory Council that made the government face the wrath of critics.
In Pakistan, racism and religious bigotry are mainstream issues, and the government needs to take robust steps to tackle them.