We all get irritated at our workplaces but we don't flip off our colleagues. Unless, of course, you're Punjab government spokesperson Attaullah Tarar who displayed some very uncouth behaviour in the Punjab Assembly on Monday.
Tarar, who is from the PML-N, was told to leave the Punjab Assembly during Monday's session chaired by speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. As he was leaving to chants of "go Tarar go", he turned and put up his middle finger, gesturing towards the opposition benches, while holding a copy of the Constitution in the other hand. Now we all know what the middle finger signifies and so does Tarar, so there's no question of it being an accident.
He also 'apologised' for the incident on Twitter but as an offhand afterthought.
"[The] speaker sent this force toward me to oust me from the house unconstitutionally. This attempt failed. I decided to leave the House in the interest of the public but as I was leaving expletives were used against me. In response, I turned to the opposition benches. If anyone was hurt by this, I am sorry. I was wrong," he wrote.
There's a lot to take issue with in his apology, starting with his justification and then moving on to "if anyone was hurt by this". An apology should be rendered without any qualifications. The issue isn't people feeling hurt by his flipping off the opposition, it's that the sanctity of the assembly was violated and uncouth behaviour was witnessed inside the hall. A true apology would start and end with "I am sorry, I was wrong".
People also took major issue with the fact that Tarar was holding a copy of the Constitution as he made the inappropriate gesture, considering it a double insult.
And with good reason. What could possibly have possessed a lawyer — a man who knows the gravity of the document he held in his hand while he carried out the lewd gesture — show his fellow assembly members the finger?
Some users didn't understand the justification of an eye for an eye.
Others rightfully believed that there is no justification for expletives. "A curse word is a curse word," wrote one user.
The people are right. There is no justification for using expletives of this nature, especially in the assembly. To have such little respect for the sanctity of the assembly and then to top it off by holding a copy of the Constitution of Pakistan while showing the middle finger is unconscionable. Whatever his personal feelings are about being ejected from the assembly, he should not have done what he did.
We're all too familiar with feeling angry or displeased but maturity and professionalism demands that you don't give in to those sentiments and resort to blatantly disrespecting other individuals and institutions.
We have seen many incidents of the legislature not being respected in the past by politicians on both sides of the benches and it needs to stop. If nothing else, they should respect the fact that the public elected them as representatives, not hooligans. We have enough uncouthness in the streets, we don't need it in our assemblies too.
Atta Tarar, the Punjab Assembly is no place for the middle finger