Jahil online

On 30th October 1947 Qaid E Azam the founder of Pakistan and the greatest leader we have ever said the following on reaching Lahore where several brutal acts were committed against minorities.

“We have, undoubtedly, achieved Pakistan and that too without bloody war and practically peacefully by moral and intellectual force and with the power of pen which is no less mighty than the sword and so our righteous cause has triumphed. Are we now going to besmear and tarnish this greatest achievement for which there is not parallel in the whole history of the world by resorting to frenzy, savagery and butchery?”

Alas we in Pakistan never heeded the words of our founder and we have been butchering, harassing and brutalizing the minorities in this country at any chance that was given to us to this day. The worst part is when people in our media and specially anchors take it upon themselves to indulge in discrimination and hate-mongering of the highest degree and bear no responsibility or lament for it afterwards.

One such incident has shocked me to the bone recently when on September 7th 2008 in a live show on Geo commemorating the 34th anniversary of members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community being declared non Muslim in Pakistan, Dr Aamir Liaqut Hussain a well known political figure, former state minister for religious affairs and self styled religious scholar made absolutely no attempt to stop his guests, Maulana Mohammad Ameen(a respected deoband cleric) and Dr. Saeed Inayatulla,( Naib Ameer and Patron-in-Chief of Madrassa Saulatiya, Saudi Arabia) when they referred to members of the Ahmadiyya Community as “kafir” (infidel) and maintained that anyone who holds beliefs as Ahmadi Muslims is “wajib-ul-qatl” (deserving of death). The guest panelists referred to the extermination of the members of the Ahmadiyya Community as incumbent upon all Muslims. Not only this but Dr Aamir went as far as to repeat this instruction several times and urge muslims to kill without fear. The video of this live transmission is still available on youtube for the world to see.

Aalim Online is a widely watched religious TV show which presents panel discussions on religious issues well as those pertaining to daily life on Geo TV and is hosted by Dr Aamir Liaqut Hussain. This program is aired simultaneously in Asia and Europe as well as the US on Geo’s frequency. In layman terms it is basically our version of Billy Graham and has been hugely successful in the recent times in gathering a following of millions of people who tune in to praise their own beliefs and pooh pooh anyone who does not toe the line. It is the brain child of Dr Hussain, who has acquired a controversial reputation. He has been known to portray himself as an extremely religious and god fearing man who is on air every night just because he wants to save our souls. However I wonder whose soul he was saving in the telecast mentioned above immediately following which two very prominent members of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan were murdered.

According to the information received via an Asian human rights organization, at 1:15pm on September 8, 18 hours after the broadcast, six persons entered the Fazle Umer Clinic, a two-story hospital at Mirpurkhas city and two of them went to the second floor and started pressuring 45 year-old Dr. Abdul Manan Siddiqui to come downstairs to attend to a patient in crisis. Dr. Manan left his office and descended into an ambush. He was shot 11 times and died on the spot. His private guard was also shot and is in a serious condition. A woman was also injured by firing. The killers remained at the hospital until the doctor was declared dead, then they walked out of the building’s front entrance. Police registered the killers as unknown.

On September 9, 48 hours after the broadcast, Mr. Yousaf, a 75 year-old rice trader and district chief of the Ahmadi sect was killed on his way to prayer in Nawab Shah, Sindh province. Yousaf was fired on from people on motor bikes, and sustained three bullet wounds. He died on the way to the hospital. The assailants had taken a route past a police station. No one was arrested.

I wonder who will bear responsibility for these murders, or bear the crux of the pain now being suffered by their families? Why this telecast was never censored or taken off air even after such an immense tragedy in its wake is anyone’s guess. Aalim Online continues to dole out zealousness coated in sickly sweet religious piousness and stays in its prime time slot because it perhaps generates revenue and ratings generous enough for people to look the other way?

Whatever the case may be this is by far one of the most intolerable incidents of media irresponsibility on naked display for world to see and a prominent example of journalism and broadcasting gone horribly wrong. We in Pakistan often make examples of the Shiv Sena and their hatred towards Muslims but where are we sleeping when Aalim Online goes on air? Perhaps in the same place where people use a religion whose very meaning is peace to go on a rampage of viciousness in the name of salvation.

As published in The Hoot on Oct 26th 2008

  1. It is easy to point fingers across the border when it comes to communal violence and religious persecution. We need to take a moment to realize how prejudiced we ourselves are.

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