Pakistan sacks provincial minister for anti-Hindu comments

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan’s government sacked a provincial minister on Tuesday for making offensive comments about Hindus, amid easing tensions with India after the two nuclear-armed neighbors came to the brink of war last month.

Punjab provincial Information Minister Fayyaz Chohan referred on Monday to Hindus, who number more than four million in Muslim-majority Pakistan, as “cow urine drinkers” in a highly charged speech against India.

The statement was immediately condemned on social media and by senior members of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as hurtful to the country’s Hindu minority.

Chohan later said his comments were aimed at India and not Pakistani Hindus.

The federal government “has removed Fayyaz Chohan from the post of Punjab Information Minister following derogatory remarks about the Hindu community,” the PTI said on Twitter.

“Bashing someone’s faith should not be a part of any narrative.”

Pakistani politicians in the past have not been penalized for making offensive statements about minority communities.

Chohan himself has previously been criticized for making derogatory statements about other minorities and about women.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated dramatically last month, after an Indian air strike on what it said was a militant group that had carried out a suicide attack in the Pulwama district of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14.

The situation began improving after Pakistan last week released an Indian pilot who had been shot down in an aerial dog fight, in what Islamabad called a “goodwill gesture”.

Reporting by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Gareth Jones