CFD Delegation meets President Geo TV to deliver protest letter regarding hate speech on Aamir Liaquat’s show
A delegation from Citizens for Democracy (CFD), comprising Uzma Noorani, Naziha Syed Ali, Adam Malik, Hasan Javed and Noman Quadri met with Imran Aslam, President Geo TV at 1600 hours PST, Thursday January 8, 2015 at Geo TV, Office in Karachi. The meeting was arranged to deliver a letter of protest to the management of Geo TV regarding Aamir Liaquat Hussian’s show “Subh-e-Pakistan”.
As mentioned in the letter, Mr. Liaquat in his show on Monday December 22, 2014 allowed the clerics who were invited, to use derogatory language against the Ahmedi community labeling them as enemies of Pakistan, blasphemers and “root cause of terrorism” in the country.
Mr. Aslam apologized for the incident and said that Geo TV has responded with a public apology regarding the incident. The management of Geo TV considers this a mistake which shouldn’t have occurred and assured the delegation that they have taken reasonable in house measures to prevent such an incident from happening again in future. He further said that the management will make sure that a delay of 30 seconds or more is included in his program when he conducts it live. Mr. Aslam informed the delegation that he has spoken to the representative of Ahmedi community in London to apologize. He said that the Editorial Committee of Geo TV will now take greater care while vetting the guests invited in the show.
The delegation suggested that in order to exercise better Editorial control, his shows should be pre-recorded rather than being aired live.
The scanned copy of the said letter with Mr. Aslam acknowledging the receipt is uploaded here with this post and the verbatim text of the same is pasted below:
January 8, 2015
Mr. Imran Aslam
In episode of Geo’s Subh-e-Pakistan that aired on December 22, 2014, contained highly derogatory statements against the Ahmadi community by some of the clerics invited as guests on the show. They labeled them as enemies of Pakistan, blasphemers, and “the root cause of terrorism” in the country. By doing so, these clerics have not only illustrated their complete disregard for inter-communal peace and harmony, but they have also brought Geo into disrepute.
Article 153-A of the Pakistan Penal Code prescribes punishments for inciting “by words, either spoken or written … enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities”. Can there be any doubt that what was uttered on the programme in question was anything other than hate speech?
As multiple incidents have proven in recent years, accusations of blasphemy are no less than an invitation to murder in the climate of vigilantism that prevails in Pakistan. Each one of us bears a responsibility to ensure that NO Pakistani, whatever his/her faith, is rendered vulnerable to discrimination or violence as a result of our words or actions.
Moreover, it is reprehensible that such words were spoken without any effort by the host, Amir Liaquat, to challenge the cleric or steer the discussion in another direction. On the contrary, Mr Liaquat nodded in affirmation and led the applause. It was a shameful display of bigotry in which an intolerant majority closed ranks against an already stigmatized and persecuted community.
It must be mentioned here that a young Ahmadi man was shot dead just five days after the airing of this episode, even though some might claim that we cannot say with any certainty that the offending episode acted as direct catalyst for the murder. In 2008, after Ahmadis were termed Wajib-ul-Qatlon an episode of Mr Liaquat’s show Alim Online, two Ahmadis were shot dead within 48 hours.
Members of Citizens For Democracy would like to place on record their outrage and disgust at the manner in which Mr Liaquat has, through his television pulpit, furthered the divisive discourse that has poisoned our society and set Pakistani against Pakistani.
Television has become an extremely influential medium and those associated with it must discharge their duties with responsibility. While we acknowledge that he has condemned extremism and sectarianism on several occasions, Mr Liaquat clearly believes that the Ahmadi community lies outside the purview of tolerance and coexistence. We consider it highly reprehensible to vilify and defame any of the religious communities that all contribute in their own way to make up a diverse, pluralistic Pakistan.
In order to prevent a recurrence of such incidents, the Geo management must undertake the following measures:
- Have a time delay on live programmes, including religious ones
- Properly vet potential guests before inviting them on shows
- Instruct presenters/anchors to intervene immediately in situations that may incite hatred between communities
- Refrain from using the term “Qadiyanis” to describe Ahmadis, which the latter consider highly derogatory
- Issue a warning to Mr Liaquat that such a situation must not recur on his programme
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