A little over a month after he was barred from making any appearance on electronic media by a court, televangelist and TV host Amir Liaquat Hussain has launched an eponymous news website.
Called Amir Liaquat Hussain news (alhnews.com), the Urdu-language website, launched on January 14, features a wide array of news categories, including local and international, business, health, sports and entertainment news.
"If the voice is banned a 100,000 times, the picture is forbidden or even giving analysis on any programme is banned... the water carves its own path," says Hussain in a video announcing the launch of this new venture.
"It is a news site, an entertainment site... it is my website where I can say whatever I want with freedom."
Interestingly, the URL of the website given on Hussain's official Twitter page is aamirliaquat.com, however, the site appears to be banned in Pakistan as the following message shows up when one clicks on this link:
"The site you are trying to access contains content that is prohibited for viewership from within Pakistan."
The Islamabad High Court had last month instructed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to ensure that Hussain did not appear “on any TV channel or radio programme in any capacity for any type of talk, programmes, shows and advertisements” till further orders.
No stranger to controversy
Hussain, a former state minister for religious affairs who has been presenting since before 2007, is no stranger to controversy.
He resigned in November from Bol TV in a series of dramatic posts on Twitter, accusing his former employer of not paying his dues and pressuring him into levelling blasphemy accusations against various individuals.
Earlier in 2017, Pemra had slapped a ban on Bol TV's 'Aisay Nahi Chahlay Ga' programme, which Liaquat had hosted, after he levelled blasphemy allegations against kidnapped civil society activists and bloggers during the show.
Following the incident, lawyer Jibran Nasir had also filed a complaint accusing Liaquat of running a defamatory and life-threatening campaign against him.
Pemra later said it had received hundreds of complaints with regard to Liaquat's "hate speech".
Likewise, in 2016, Pemra had barred Liaquat from hosting Ramazan show 'Inam Ghar' on Geo Entertainment for three days following his June 6 episode, in which he had distastefully re-enacted the suicide of a girl.
In 2013, he had sparked outrage by 'giving away' babies to childless couples during live coverage of his Ramazan transmission. He defended his actions as "charity".
In 2011, a controversial behind-the-scenes video was released via social media showing the presenter using vulgar language and speaking crassly with his companions during different instances of his show.
In 2008, Liaquat was widely criticised after he hosted a TV show during which he, along with others, passed hateful comments against a minority community and discussed their murder as an act of religious duty. The show was followed within days of its airing by the murder of two people belonging to the said community.