Firdous Ashiq Awan, the special assistant to the Punjab chief minister on culture, is often in the news for off the cuff remarks and verbal fights, such as when she yelled at assistant commissioner Sonia Sadaf, but she this time she's in the news for going one step further and resorting to slaps to get her point across.
She and the PPP's MNA Qadir Khan Mandokhail appeared on the talkshow Kal Tak, hosted by journalist Javed Chaudhry. The debate veered into dangerous territory when the guests began insulting each other with direct attacks and resorted to using expletives.
What started as a discussion about the government's performance and excessive loadshedding in parts of the country turned into a shouting match over the recent train collision in Sindh's Ghotki, which claimed the lives of 65 people. It then escalated to physical violence when Awan slapped Mandokhail.
The video spread like wildfire on Twitter where #FirdousAshiqAwan was trending at number one on Thursday. Netizens were quick to point out that this was the second time the government official had been caught "misbehaving" on camera, and that it was not okay.
Shahbaz Taseer thought Chaudhry's reaction was a whole mood.
Some thought the responsibility fell on the host, who could have intervened to stop the matter before it got out of hand.
While others deemed her incompetent and unfit for the role of a public representative.
Her actions were humiliating, they said, and an apology was due.
But Twitterati enjoyed the meme fest that resulted.
The incident was bound to happen, if actual issues were being discussed for once, they said.
An apt title, really
The arguments here vary. Some people believe Chaudhry should have jumped in way earlier to diffuse the situation and stopped it from escalating to the point of violence. It was his show and his responsibility to moderate the conversation. Standing by with his hands on his hips didn't help anyone.
But while talkshows can be breeding grounds for personal attacks and heated debates, at the end of the day, it is the responsibility of government servants to behave appropriately on national television. Resorting to physical violence — regardless of the reasons behind it — is never okay. It's about time politicians step up their game and strive to become better representatives for the people they pledge to serve.