Express network’s latest hire : The unholy Cash cow!

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Dear express media group,

I want to express my grave concern over the hiring of Dr. Amir Liaqat Hussain as president and head of religious affair programs at your august Organization. I bring this up not as a distraught audience but as a proponent of minority rights as well.

My views are resonated by many a cognizant tweeple across the board.
Jibran nasir tweeted:

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Whereas Nadeem paracha chirped in his signature sarcastic tone:

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On commercial grounds ostensibly it seems a good deal for both parties ( the express media group and Amir Liaqat) in reinstating him for a second stint, since he is known for his shenanigans of commodifying the holy month of Ramadan. Where as on the mere basis of merit i don’t think any channel should have given him a chance to host during ramadan in order to uphold the sanctity of the holy month.

With the cat already out of the bag as far as Geo tv is concerned, i don’t think there is any doubt left as to how instrumental Dr. Amir Liaqat was in positively leading the religious mind set on media screen during his tenure at Geo. Rather than developing a sense of unity amongst various sect, he created more fissures. In the past He has spread venom against minorities. In one of his religious programs his vitriol ( fatwa against ahmadis) led to the murder of members of the minority community in interior Sindh. Eventually the top echeloen at Geo (Imran Aslam) had to apologise in public for his naivety.

Not only his indifference towards minorities coupled with his antics on tv screen (which entails poor impersonation of SRK) are repressible, infact his sincerity and loyalty towards his own Organization are highly dubious as well. Finding an opportune moment, Amir Liaqat ditched Geo tv in troubled times to mint money during Ramadan through another channel.

But the onus lies onExpress tv as well.

As if there was no better professional administrator or a religious scholar of higher pedigree left in Pakistan that recruiters at Express media group opted for him. As an outsider i see the hiring of a controversial figure like Amir Liaqat Hussain at Express tv as a blotch on the channels’ otherwise enviable reputation. One wonders if monetary benefits, ratings and ROI are the key indicators in hiring procedure of our media groups. Having an abysmal loyality quotient, it is highly likely that the Doc will say Adieus to his new found employer, when the going will get tough for the channel.

Even his administrative and managerial expertise were found wanting at Geo where anti army invective was broadcast live for hours but he didn’t intervene to stop that media howler carried out by his Geo management.

In hindsight It seems as if local media industry has not learned any lessons from the recent Geo episode that led various electronic media outlets into a fit of cannabalism. I can vividly recall that when Geo hired the Doc for the second tenure, a handful of conscientious journalists and anchors voiced their reservations. Sana Bucha for one did resign in protest.

For the moment though It seems as if Express TV is taking full leverage of the fact that doctor Amir Liaqat is amongst 500 most influential muslims across the world and exploiting it wonderfully as a marketing gimmick to their advantage.

Looking forward, One can only hope that in order to safeguard its brand equity and goodwill Express Media group will rein the doctor in, so that he doesn’t make mockery of religious norms in coming Ramadan by turning religious programs into Neelam Ghar and animal circus.

Yours sincerely,
A distraught viewer

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The Pakistani Saga

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Recent developments in Pakistani society has led me to the conclusion that the ongoing orgasm of schadenfreude is not only restricted to local media industry — which has resorted to cannibalism through mudslinging and nitpicking — In fact it has engulfed all spheres of our society.

Farzana Parveen and Doctor Ali Mahdi are the latest casualties — One a helpless pregnant lady and other a hapless Ahmadi doctor; both victims of defeatist mind set.

These recurrent tragedies call for a postmortem of our societal norms in general.

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Robert Bolt’s epic play “A man for all seasons” seems to epitomise the prevailing societal norms in Pakistan to the core. I reckon our society runs rife with the characters of Lord Thomas More, Richard Rich, Thomas Cromwell and King Henry VIII. Analysing each is pivotal.

Take the case of Lord Thomas More, the protagonist in the play. He comes across as a conscientious and devout to his faith Pakistani. Periodically he wrestles between his moral uprightness and moral turpitude. Just like any regular Pakistani, he is forced to bend rules under rampant corruption, a gift of inept system.

On one instance just to safeguard his guiding beliefs, Thomas More is seen as finding legal loopholes in the constitution after being wrongly accused as a traitor by state machinery (King Henry VIII and his aides) — Liberal and outspoken Pakistanis from civil society including a number of journalists, social activists and some politicians can correlate with the tag of a “traitor” for staying steadfast to their set of values.

Then there are the likes of Richard Rich, who are always on the look out to cut corners and get worldly means even if they had to stoop to slander and smear campaigning, merely to settle old scores. Juxtaposing the scenario, we observe that not a single day passes by when an Ahmadi or a christian doesn’t get wrongly accused on account of blasphemy by an opportunist like Richard Rich.

Next in line is Thomas Cromwell, who has vested agenda. He covertly works to lure the strayed Richard Rich into his bait. Thomas Cromwell is a mentality that incites the arson attack on girl’s school van in Panjgor, Baluchistan, triggers the shooting of Malala Yousaf Zai and provokes family members to stone pregnant Farzana Parvin to death in bright daylight. Thomas Cromwell is not part of the mob, in fact he incites Mob mentality across the country.

Another highly eccentric character is that of King Henry VIII. He is portrayed as a flirting romanticist and at the same time a despotic dictator who toys with the constitution, religious norms and people’s fates — merely to grind his own axe.(To put things in the play in perspective, King Henry VIII resorts to religious reforms solely to marry Anne Boleyn. This leads to a reformation movement that turns the religious landscape in the country topsy turvy).

Throughout history, the shenanigans of a myriad of political leaders in Pakistan have stacked them with the likes of King Henry vIII.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a hitherto secular, drafts a constitution that ostracises minorities from the social fabric, summons the second islamic conference in Lahore and forms an Islamic Bloc to entertain his cheeky ambitions of becoming the leader of Muslim world. That changes the socio politico landscape of Pakistan for good.

Bhutto’s nemesis Zia Ul Haq is no different to King henry VIII either. In quest of the holy grail, he abets Americans to outsmart the communists in Afghanistan by engendering militancy. He virtually takes Bhutto’s Islamisation campaign to the next level by leveraging cold war to his own advantage. he drafts the Haddood ordinance and tightens noose over the minorities by reinforcing the blasphemy law through the infamous ordinance XX.

All of these character are still playing their part virtually according to the script in Today’s Pakistan, that has been officially turned into a confused milieu. The only difference is that the likes of Lord Thomas More are getting scant with every passing day. Where as unscrupulous Richard Rich are being empowered by the Thomas Cromwell mafia of the society.

On the other hand King Henry VIII every now and then, finds a way out to bend rules with utter impunity in order to safeguard his personal interests.

As far as Rule of law and Justice are concerned, well they are attributed with slang like RIP in the land of the pure.