Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid
Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid Image Credit: Twitter

Islamabad: Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid a day after calling the residents of Lahore ‘the most ignorant and stupid’ people in a live TV show, retracted her statement and apologised for her remarks.

In a statement issued late Wednesday Dr. Rashid said being a government minister as well as a doctor she was upset over people’s indifference to the coronavirus that “despite our repeated cautions and warnings, people were continuously violating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) announced to check the virus spread.It is because of such listless attitude that the provincial government had to impose a strict lockdown in 32 residential localities of Lahore for two weeks”, she said during the live programme.

Backlash from ‘N’ politicians, Lahore’s residents

Dr. Rashid’s statement invited the wrath of the main opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that has its stronghold in the provincial metropolis and the party’s spokesperson as well as a number of leaders criticised her for calling people of Lahore ignorant and dumb.

Former Federal Minister and PML-N’s Member National Assembly Khawaja Saad Rfique outside the Accountability Court while responding to Dr Yasmin Rashid’s statement said she herself was an ignorant person. “It doesn’t match the status of a government minister to have uttered such words for the people when their lives and livelihood were adversely affected by coronavirus.” said Rafique. “Because of the government’s confused and unclear policy, coronavirus has made inroads in almost every family and household of Lahore. It is unfortunate that under these circumstances instead of coming to their help, she is issuing such irresponsible statements,” he added.

Spokesperson for the PML-N Marriyum Aurangzeb and Punjab Assembly Member Azma Bukhari also criticised Dr. Rashid for giving such a ‘negative’ statement. “She has lost three times to PML-N candidates in National Assembly elections that is why her saying so is a sign of her frustration”, said Aurangzeb.

A resident of the city Uzera Shah cautioned ‘Lahoris’ to remember the lady and her words and remind her of her impoliteness towards Lahore when during next elections she comes for votes at their doorsteps.

Some of Lahore’s youth agree with her

Whereas Dr. Rashid faced criticism over her statement there are quite a few voices in her support too. Samreen Sheikh on her Twitter account referring to her words “Lahoris are weird people,” said she took them as a compliment.

However, while talking to Gulf News a number of residents of Lahore said calling Lahoris ignorant and stupid was not fair as the government itself was not clear in handling the virus.

“First they imposed lockdown, then the Prime Minister opposed it and relaxed restrictions on certain businesses and now once again they are enforcing it”, said Ayesha Khan, a student of the National College of Arts (NCA) Lahore.