A politician and a renowned television personality, who shot to fame hosting religious shows and conducting Ramazan transmissions on multiple channels, Aamir Liaquat Hussain passed away on Thursday.

No stranger to controversy in his years-long career in politics and the media, Hussain was born on July 5, 1971, in Karachi.

He was awarded a PhD degree in Islamic Studies in Malaya, Spain, in 2002. However, Hussain was embroiled in a controversy over the authenticity of his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees on several occasions.

His claim to fame is his stint as host of Geo TV's 'Aalim Online' — a religious programme that he began conducting in 2001.

In the years to follow, he hosted Ramzan transmissions and game shows on channels including Geo TV, Bol News, ARY Digital and Express TV.

He also ran a current affairs programme on Channel 24 called 'Mere Aziz Hum-watno'.

Political career

Hussain began his political journey in 2002, when he won the NA-249 seat from Karachi in general elections on Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) ticket. Two years after his election, he was appointed as the Minister of State for Religious Affairs as well as Zakat and Ushr Division in then-prime minister Shaukat Aziz's cabinet.

He resigned from his NA seat and the ministry in 2007 following a controversy over his statements on Salman Rushdie and the Lal Masjid stand-off.

Hussain had said during a television interview that Salman Rushdie should be killed for blaspheming the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in his book 'Satanic Verses'.

A year later, he was expelled from the MQM for violating party policy.

However, he later rejoined the party and was among the leaders who were arrested in August 2016 on charges of listening to, organising and facilitating a speech made by party founder Altaf Hussain in which he had railed against the military establishment and security agencies.

Hussain was taken into custody from his office on I.I. Chundrigar Road and later released by the Rangers after overnight detention.

After his release, he parted ways with the MQM, saying at the time that he would be quitting politics.

But on March 19, 2018, he again ventured into politics, joining the PTI this time around.

Addressing a press conference alongside party chief Imran Khan on the occasion, he had said: "I had earlier left behind siyah-sat (a dark trade), and now I am starting siyasat (politics)."

He was then elected as a member of the NA from Karachi's NA-245 constituency.

In October 2021, he again announced that he was resigning from his seat and went on to snub Imran on a no-trust vote in April this year that eventually led to the PTI chief's ouster.

Controversies

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.

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 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".

Likewise, in 2016, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulator Authority (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 2017, Pemra had slapped a ban on Bol TV's 'Aisay Nahi Chahlay Ga' programme, which Liaquat 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 over Liaquat's "hate speech".

In November 2017, 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.

Later that year, the Islamabad High Court had barred Hussain from making any television appearances till further notice on a petition seeking a complete ban on his appearances on television, social media and print media over allegations he had abused his influence to spread discord and hatred in the country.

The ban, however, was lifted in February 2018.

But in May 2018, Pemra had again banned him from appearing on any TV channel in Pakistan for thirty days after ruling that he had violated several sections of Pemra Ordinance in a TV programme.

The media regulator, in a notification, had stated that Hussain, during his channel's Ramazan transmission had "aired live, un-edited and without any delay" a video call from Gujrat wherein the caller had raised a controversial religious question.

The Pemra noted that Hussain had, "merely for creating sensation and in order to achieve maximum rating", created "unwarranted drama on the basis of religion and hurt the sentiments of different sects and public at large".

Tumultous domestic life

Husain's love life had also remained at the centre of the public's fascination. His last two marriages — and very public separations — dominated news cycles and social media chatter.

In April 2021, Liaquat battled rumours of getting married a third time after model Haniya Khan claimed to be his wife. At the time, he released a video denying the rumours, saying, "I only have one marriage, which is with Tuba."

In February this year, he again found himself at the centre of a controversy when he announced his third marriage to 18-year-old Dania Shah.

His announcement of the marriage had come just hours after his second wife, media personality Syeda Tuba, had announced on Instagram that her application for marriage dissolution had been approved by a court.

But last month, Shah also approached a court for the dissolution of her marriage with Hussain, alleging that he was a drug addict and used to torture her. The MNA had refuted the allegations levelled by Shah while talking to a private TV channel and on Twitter.

A few days later, a video — not independently verified but also not called fake by Hussain — was leaked that featured him in a state of complete undress in his home, allegedly after the consumption of an illegal substance.

Hussain is survived by two kids from his first wife, who he had divorced in December 2020 after marrying Syeda Tuba.

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