LAHORE - Following a derogatory statement against the Hindu community and strong public outcry on the social media, Punjab Minister for Information Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan was on Tuesday forced to resign, notwithstanding his apology to the minorities living here in Pakistan.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar summoned the minister in his office Tuesday afternoon and asked him to resign forthwith. The chief minister later sent Chohan’s resignation to the Punjab Governor who accepted the same without any delay.

According to sources, member Punjab Assembly Samsaam Bukhari is most likely to be elevated as new information minister very soon. Before joining the PTI, Samsaam served as Federal State Minister for Information during PPP’s last tenure in power. Samsaam Bukhari also had a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar on Tuesday evening. Sources confirmed that Samsaam was most likely to be sworn in as minister in the next few days.

In a video message posted on his twitter account, Punjab Chief Minister’s official spokesperson Dr Shahbaz Gill said that Chief Minister was extremely annoyed with the minister over his offensive statement against the Hindu community. The chief minister has also apologised to the Hindus for Chohan’s statement, he said, adding that Punjab government had completely disowned the statement by its minister.

“Hindus living in Pakistan are as much Pakistanis as the Chief Minister himself. They also have equal rights like other Pakistani citizens,” CM’s spokesperson remarked.

Gill further stated that Punjab Chief Minister had expressed his extreme displeasure in his meeting with Chohan and asked him to leave the ministerial portfolio right away.

Chohan had earlier denied reports that Punjab Chief Minister had sought resignation from him. Following his meeting with the Chief Minister, Chohan had taken the stance that the Chief Minister had just sought an explanation from him and that he had clarified his position on the issue.

Before being summoned at the Chief Minister’s office, Chohan had apologised for his statement saying that his remarks were meant only for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian army and its media. He said all minorities living in Pakistan had equal rights. “My remarks were in no way directed at Pakistan’s Hindu community,” he clarified.

Chohan’s statement invited criticism from all segments of society. PTI leaders and opposition parties in particular demanded his resignation for his controversial statement. Prime Minister Imran Khan also showed his displeasure and directed Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar to seek his resignation. Prime Minister reportedly said that such remarks against the minorities were not acceptable in any way.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Finance Minister Asad Umar and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Naeemul Haque are among the senior PTI leaders who condemned the statement coming from a provincial minister.

In her tweet, Dr Mazari said: “Absolutely condemn this. No one has the right to attack anyone else’s religion. Our Hindu citizens have given sacrifices for their country. Our PM’s message is always of tolerance & respect & we cannot condone any form of bigotry or spread of religious hatred,”

Also, Chohan came under heavy fire in the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday morning. Opposition staged a token boycott of Assembly proceedings to register its protest.

PPP’s Hassan Murtaza labelled Chohan Pakistan’s Narendra Modi and a target killer. “No one including the politicians, the journalists and the minorities is safe from him,” he said, adding that government should do something to shut his mouth forever. Opposition members also demanded his resignation for his anti-Hindu remarks.

Prosecution Minister Ch Zaheeruddin and Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Ijaz Masih disowned Chohan’s statement on the Assembly floor terming it minister’s personal opinion.

It may be mentioned here that Chohan is the third PTI minister to have resigned though on varying charges during the last six months. The other two ministers who had resigned earlier were Azam Swati and Aleem Khan.

PAKISTAN HONOURS ITS HINDUS: FO

Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammed Faisal on Tuesday acknowledging the valued contributions of Hindu community said the country honoured them as their own citizens. “Pakistan proudly owns the white in the flag as much as the green,” the Spokesman said in a message on Twitter, referring to the flag’s white colour representing non-Muslims (minorities) and green the Muslims of the country.