6 May 2021
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Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan has admitted that the words she used to tell off Assistant Commissioner Sonia Sadaf in Sialkot over price gouging in a Ramazan subsidy bazaar were not right. If the spirit of the holy month is of self-reflection and forgiveness, then nothing exemplified it more perhaps than Firdous Apa’s live apology on national television Monday afternoon.Social media exploded on Sunday when a video of Firdous Ashiq Awan shouting at AC Sadaf was circulated. People quickly divided into two camps: those pro-civil service and those against.

“What happened to you?” asked SAMAA TV’s anchor in the pre-iftar transmission on Monday. “Yes, it was a ghair munasib jumla,” said Firdous. “But you are human and get angry and the environment there…” She referred to the sweltering heat, the anger of the crowd over the high prices and said that the government was being abused. The real issue was the bazaar’s organisation, she said. The AC sahiba was sitting in an air-conditioned car. “I was drowning in sweat, For me, the people’s anger and the Ramzan heat got to me.”In the video, Firdous was seen shouting at the AC over the quality of fruit being sold at the market. Watch the video here.“See along with all this you should keep in mind, that I am a representative of the people,” Firdous replied. “Not a product of the drawing room. I don’t sit in a drawing room and do politics.”Firdous was severely criticized and lauded in equal measure. Pro-PTI people felt that she was right to haul up the AC over price gouging. “If people are drowning in sweat for one kilogram of sugar, that is not the PM’s vision,” said Firdous. On the other hand, civil servants on Twitter condemned the harsh tone and said that Firdous could have conveyed her point differently. Others questioned whether it even made sense for district, deputy and assistant commissioners to still be doing the out-dated task of checking prices in bazaars in a free market economy. Who is Sonia Sadaf, the Assistant Commissioner in Sialkot? She has a Master’s of Public Administration from Cornell University, a BBA from the University of Arkansas and a BBA Honors from University of Central Punjab. She is a UGRAD Fellow, a Fulbright scholar and worked for the World Bank.

Abdul Gh Lone