Firdous Ashiq Awan vs Sonia Sadaf

Firdous Ashiq Awan (L) and Sialkot Assistant Commissioner Sonia Sadaf exchange words over quality of fruit at a Ramazan bazaar in Sialkot.–File photo

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan’s act of shouting and swearing at Sialkot Assistant Commissioner Sonia Sadaf during her visit to a Ramazan bazaar earlier this week caught mainstream and social media’s attention immediately.

In a 30-second video circulating on social media, Firdous, who holds the portfolio of special assistant to Punjab chief minister on information, can be seen indulging in a heated argument with Sonia, who allegedly failed to ensure removal of rotten fruit from the temporary market set up by the local administration to supply edibles to people at discounted rates in the holy month of Ramazan. Sonia is initially seen trying to calm down the powerful CM aide and then leaving the place as the situation spirals out of her control.

Whatever may be the reason for Firdous’ outburst, it cannot be justified or endorsed in any circumstances. A people’s representative is not mandated to bully a public servant for any reason — personal or political. On the face of it, it appears to be an attempt to show to people that their representative is fighting hard for their rights and that public servants are not doing what is required on their part to protect people’s interests amid the ever-rising rate of inflation in the country.

The mainstream and social media are abuzz with speculations as to why Firdous targeted the Sialkot AC in the public. Some people are of the view that Firdous might be trying to settle a personal score with Sonia after the latter refused to accommodate the former at some point. Some are of the view that Firdous simply did what she has been hired to do in Punjab, where the Buzdar-led provincial government is being seen as one of weakest governments in history of the province. Another group of Firdous critics believes that the heavyweight from Sialkot was just showing her power to impress her voters and supporters.

Yet another section of people believes that Firdous was trying to copy former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, incumbent president of the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). And there are some who believe that Firdous’ outburst is the result of the frustration caused by the PTI government’s failure to deliver in the last three and a half years.

However, Firdous is not the first Pakistani politician to indulge in such an act publically. Former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif used to pay ‘surprise visits’ to different public places and facilities and suspend government officials on the spot over ‘negligence’ or ‘poor performance’. This practice of Shehbaz would render the entire local administration useless because the chief minister would assume the role of the local government officers. Such tactics of Shehbaz were more often aimed at gaining political mileage in a country where people are usually impressed by such actions.

The act of Firdous has put the ruling PTI and the Punjab government in an awkward situation. So much so that people from Firdous’ own party are not defending her act and some are even advising her to step back on this issue. As Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has heard both Firdous and Sialkot AC Sonia Sadaf personally and ordered an inquiry into the incident, the provincial bureaucracy has put its weight behind the government officer.

Punjab Chief Secretary Jawad Rafique Malik has called upon Firdous to apologise to Sonia Sadaf. Also, a number of Sonia’s batchmates and colleagues have come forward in her support and shared her pictures at work on social media. However, it remains to be seen who is held responsible for the incident and if any action is taken on the basis of the ongoing inquiry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *