In the Defense of the Ramadan Game Shows

Source: Dawn

Ramadan, the holy fasting month, is here. My personal fervor or lack thereof for the festival aside, you are bound to get caught in its whirlpool if you are living in Pakistan.

It does not matter whether you fast or not, you need to follow a certain eating pattern for the most part due to the society around you. One way or the other, you cannot avoid Ramadan no matter how hard you try. And just like the eating patterns, the piety is infectious too.

But just like everything else such as mass hysteria on the roads, another factor infectious about it is a sense of festivity and entitlement.

Born out of this market need was the showmanship of Geo Network’s original Aalim Online, Aamir Liaquat Hussain. With Aamir Liaquat, Reality TV entertainment meets religiosity. He took it a step further in the recent years by branding the Ramadan Transmissions and turning it into an extravagant variety show. Even more recently, he turned it into a giveaway fest loaded with corporate sponsors big and small who saw their image going with his “circus.”

Yes, “Ramadan circus” was what Islamabad High Court Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui referred to his show. He considered this gambling an abomination and blasphemous in an “Islamic Republic” that was supposed to safeguard Islamic tenets in a Shariah sanctioned society. He even insisted that the title of Islamic Republic should be removed from the state of Pakistan. What else could you ask for?

Perhaps Justice Siddiqui is one of those self-proclaimed “True Islam” purists who believe that religion should be practiced in its supposed authentic state, unaware that the monolithically solid idea in their perception is nothing more than an abstraction. They are not aware that these religious ideas have become cultural and have evolved. Even the Prophet himself could not have stopped them from evolving. He is not aware that people don’t just want to but will practice Ramadan on their own terms.

Justice Shaukat Siddiqui – Source: geo.tv

The judge makes a fool out of himself by threatening to ban Fahad Mustafa Tunio, Aamir Liaquat, and Waseem Badami for life, wonder what that means in the glossary of Pakistani justice. Are these the guardians of democracy, free speech, and freedom of the press in this country? Are these the authoritative figures who cite the superiority of the Constitution every second hour? We must not share their hideous, anti-freedom, authoritarian, totalitarian views. It would even be a duty to resist this stupidity which is a far more ridiculous spectacle than the TV circus it condemns.

In the day and age when the worst form of state censorship of journalism has returned, we have a judge that wants to worsen the censorship on the media. While there is little doubt that

Before our self-righteous hate of commercialism becomes too out of control, we must not forget that people always complain about not having free handouts during the holy month. Now that someone has come up with that, we have a problem with it. This is what freedom is about and it is manifesting itself into this. And then again what’s the harm? Even if a very small pool of people are being given electronic appliances, and occasionally motorbikes and cars randomly? It is not going to end world hunger but it is certainly not contributing to it. It only creates a bunch of jobs people like Justice Siddiqui believe the government is supposed to create.

Ramadan is a festival of gluttony after all. It is only appropriate that it should be celebrated with greed.

A New, Compromised PTI

Source: Samaa.tv

Today has been a fascinating day by all means.

Who would have thought they would see a day when Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain would be sitting right next to Imran Khan and would announce joining the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI)?

Others would say it is not a surprise considering Aamir Liaquat Hussain’s career on the hawkishly pro-establishment Bol Network after his exodus from Geo TV and MQM. This can be said for the reason .

Aamir Liaquat Hussain obviously has no shortage of his haters. While I personally thought that his Geo TV leaks showed more of his human side, it also shed light on the hypocrisy of his self-righteousness as was the focus of most people analyzing them. As a matter of fact, that revelation had actually liberated Aamir Liaquat Hussain, making him more sarcastic, more fearless, and far more caustic and candid in his approach to his public conversation. As if he was almost relieved that the cover of his “holy religious figure” was blown.

Though what you can argue about Aamir Liaquat is that he is a survivor who knows how to make the best of every situation, or at least to make a lot of money. Seeing Aamir Liaquat Hussain should not be such a big surprise on his part. It is not something that is beyond him. Actually, he has been at it before. However, it does reflects on the PTI which claims to set very high moral standards for themselves. Though one thing that has come off as a constant with this party is that the only wrong they think in this world is financial corruption.

Still, this development hit a number of influencing PTI followers hard who would not have imagined in their wildest dreams that someone like Aamir Liaquat will join the party. Many people who would go to great lengths to defend the party and its morally uncompromising stance are backing off. Salman Ahmed of Junoon is just one example.

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However, Imran Khan is finally showing signs of going beyond his brand of politics of uncompromised principles, which probably means he is taking the upcoming election very seriously and he better. Particularly in the Senate elections in which he believes he scored by preventing having a Senator elected from either PML-N or PPP, (which is not much of an achievement as the Supreme Court had already grounded the party affiliation of the PML-N candidates) while working with the PPP in terms of getting the vote to the same candidate for the position of Chairman Senate. However, with all the talk of the military establishment behind all their recent Senate moves, and not being able to say no to Aamir Liaquat Hussain is a factor that still casts a shadow of doubt over the softening of their stance.

There is little doubt that the PTI can hardly do anything to counter the PML-N juggernaut unless they make an electoral alliance with the PPP in the parliament. And they should try whatever possible legal tactic to do so, even when it comes to welcoming people like Aamir Liaquat Hussain in the party.

The number of people who passionately defend PTI is falling sharply. Obviously, there are still diehard Imran Khan fans, even I have him as a childhood hero, so yes they are going to stick no matter what but as long as he is heading the party.

What is Common Between Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain

Source: Dawn/aamerliaquat.wordpress.com

Source: Dawn/aamirliaquat.wordpress.com

What is common between Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain?

Both of them divide the public opinion drastically about themselves, with half of the population loathing them, while the others adoring them. But the popularity factor is rather true for Aamir Liaquat Hussain, as most people dislike the Maulana for his devious and Machiavellian politics. At least on this side of the Indus river.

But seriously, what is common between them is religion. Well not really. Who in Pakistan is free of a connection to religion?

What they actually have in common is the religious background and how it has held them back from achieving their ambitions, while offering them success at the same time. But this success is largely due to their personal modified talents, instead of any genuine religiosity.

Both Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain are sons of clerics, alright, religious scholars is the more politically correct job title. This fact immediately sanctioned both of them with the duty to follow the footsteps of their respective fathers. Both were laden with the heavy responsibility to continue propagating the holy faith.

While many would deem religious background an advantage, for these two gentlemen, it has been nothing more than a handicap apparently. Not only has it prevented both these individuals from achieving a lot more, but it has also kept them bound in a cage, especially Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman. Being condemned to live with a beard for all their lives.

Even though Aamir Liaquat still is an actor and an entertainer and probably nothing more, he cannot openly pursue a career in acting and dramatics because of his religious background and career. He only started wearing that beard on the insistence of his adoring audiences. While most people, secular and religious, would consider his pursuit of acting inappropriate any way, I actually find it tragic.

This gets even more tragic for Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman who is condemned for life to live like a cleric. While I believe that he is actually secretly not religious, there is little doubt that he would be tempted by the lifestyle of his peers and must be greatly conscious of his handicap. Furthermore, I get the impression that his beard and religious leaning are the greatest hurdles to his becoming the Head of State of Pakistan.

So what if Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is referred to as the father of the Taliban? Was Zbig Brzezinski also not involved in collaborating with Pakistani forces in arming and preparing them for Afghan Jihad? So what if he could possibly be accused of the deaths of thousands. Is that not true for Henry Kissinger as well? Statecraft demands a little sacrifice every now and then.

Getting back to Aamir Liaquat, his religious rhetoric is drenched with melodramatic theatricals, and it moves people doubly because it concerns faith. His love of theatrics is all but obvious and his religious show is a living testament to that. Most of the people attack him for his personal morality and feeding lies to the public, but they cannot deny that his innovation in religious broadcasting has become a popular trend.

He is a brilliant showman and perhaps even a megalomaniac, which is evident from the elaborate sets that his wife helps him set up. What he is actually doing is telling the world that he is capable of building his own theatre, with its own million rupee stage and with him alone enjoying all the spotlight. And that he can buy crews and even audiences. And that it’s all about money and that there is nothing wrong with it.

Source: New York Times

Source: New York Times

Most of the people were mad at Aamir Liaquat Hussain for his Geo TV leaked video. I actually developed some respect for him after watching it, except for the infamous misogynistic rape joke. It showed his human side and probably that is how a reckless drunk actor would be behaving in between scenes, no matter how immoral it looks. At least it was far less profane, lethal and immoral than his on-screen religious preaching.

I would have had more respect for him had he manned up and admitted that it was indeed him saying all that. But since he is in the business of lying hypocritically, that is religious preaching and TV evangelism, he had to attribute the clip to certain “camera tricks and advanced dubbing techniques”. His sheepish, embarrassed, insincere apology almost gave out that he actually believed people knew he was lying. But then again, only the prophets are incapable of committing sins.

With Chaudhary Shujaat – Source: Express Tribune

Speaking of sins, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman may get all those votes for promoting a militaristic Deobandi Islam under the white-black striped Jihadi flag, but that largely undermines his personal skill and talent. Like the MQM, he always is at the forefront of negotiations for government formation.

As a matter of fact, he mostly wants to be at the forefront of negotiation of any sort. He has this longing to be a diplomat and a statesman. He has this megalomaniac urge to have his name written down in history books for something great. He wants to go beyond being a politician.

It can be estimated conservatively that Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain are probably both psychopaths. That’s alright, most interesting people who have something to offer to the world are. And let us, the highly-judging moralist audiences be not such hypocrites ourselves. We all have that morality on-off switch.

But it is indeed an interesting study, and the beauty of the high drama of life that such powerful individuals can become so helpless when bound by the unchallengeable walls of the fortress of Islam that they swear so passionately by.

It’s as ironic as the lives they lead. As the lives we lead.