Pakistan bans TV host for hate speech targeting missing activists

Aamir Liaquat Hussain hosts a programme on Bol TV. In the past, he has been at the centre of controversy for giving abandoned children to childless couples and hosting anti-Ahmadi Islamic radicals. His comments can provoke violent reactions against those calling for the return of five missing intellectuals.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – The Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (PEMRA) has banned Aamir Liaquat Hussain, a high-profile television host, from appearing on television.

The media regulator said it has received "hundreds" of complaints against the broadcaster accusing him of hate speech against five intellectuals and activists who have gone missing in the past few weeks. Instead of obeying the ban, he appeared in a video. Now the TV station risks losing its license.

Aamir Liaquat is not new to excessive and improper behaviour. In 2008 he dedicated an entire show to exploring the beliefs of the Ahmadis, a minority in Pakistan that is considered heretical. During the programme, two Islamic scholars said all followers of false prophets are "worthy of murder."

In 2013 Liaquat caused a lot of controversy when he handed out abandoned children to childless couples on his show.

Recently, during the broadcast of the Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga (It is not acceptable) programme on Bol TV, he accused Professor Salman Haider and the four missing Lahore bloggers of insulting Islam, a crime punishable with death in Pakistan.

His allegations against the activist bloggers are serious as the mere suspicion of blasphemy can evoke a strong reaction from a section of organised religion in Pakistan, with victims being attacked and in some cases lynched by angry mobs.

Increasingly, many believe that the five intellectuals were seized by the police for publishing comments critical of religious extremism and radical elements in the government and the armed forces. For his part, the broadcaster cast doubts on this, claiming that the five had “defected to India”.

Liaquat also attacked others in the entertainment business and social activists, saying that many in media and civil society are "non-Muslims", "infidels," "enemies of Islam" and "Indian spies".

Separately, Rawalpindi police on Thursday registered a case against Liaquat under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) for indulging in hate speech and threatening the life of activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir, a lawyer and a leading advocate for the five missing intellectuals.

In a statement, the All Pakistan Newspapers Society also expressed “profound concern over the incessant trend of unscrupulous outbursts of baseless allegations and hate mongering on a satellite channel against journalists, publishers and editors of newspapers”.