-Illustration by Faraz Aamer Khan.

It is fairly true that some people just do not learn the lessons. Maya Khan, the unprecedented queen of controversial morning shows, quite evidently remains one of them. Whether we talk about her endless stream of crocodile tears shed during the live transmission of her shows or her posse of women running after young couples, Khan certainly knows how to stir up sensation and ratchet ratings.

Khan, popularly known for running after people in the parks, was sacked after a social media campaign was launched against her. However, she was hired by another private TV channel soon for her sensationalism and controversies.

Her recent escapade, which involved converting a Hindu boy on live television, has angered many people. The show revolved around the ritual of conversion and people calling in to congratulate Khan, her team and Sunil, who was later, renamed Muhammad Abdullah.

When asked what motivated him to accept Islam, Sunil responded incoherently about his intentions. Most of his responses revolved around praising Sarim Burney Trust, where he works and supposedly received the courage to change his religion.

I am truly ashamed to have witnessed such a hideous mockery of the two religions. I am appalled to be a part of a society which hails such unjust and unethical practises and deeply saddened to know that minorities are blatantly marginalised on live television while the silent majority lives in denial.

It was ironical to see that not a single caller objected to this ridiculing of religions or safeguarding the rights of minorities living in Pakistan. I am positively sure that at this rate minorities will cease to exist in Pakistan.

It is rather disappointing to see that people such as Khan and Shahid Masood who are best known for gaining popularity through such shoddy tactics are being followed around like deities.

Amazingly, most of us fail to understand that spirituality and religion are matters of personal choices. Advertising and exhibiting religion is neither permissible in Islam nor is recommended by the ethical parameters of any progressive society. The bombardment of Ramazan transmissions featuring religious clerics, public and pseudo-religious scholars-cum-hosts that aim to question and reinforce the concept of faith, are nothing but promotional stunts to fool the public.

When will we learn? Why cannot we see that the only chance of our survival lies in tolerance and coexistence? Why cannot we respect other religions the way we honour Islam? How can a person who disrespects one religion, honour another?

The forced conversions and abductions of non-Muslims living in Pakistan are hushed-up whereas ‘victories’ such as the one we witnessed this week are publicised on national television, further intimidating and isolating minorities.

We talk about atrocities carried out in Indian Kashmir and the Gujrat riots but forget about the minorities who are living in constant fear of their lives, legacies and children. Khan’s show depicted the true picture of people because of whom the non-Muslims population in Pakistan is declining drastically.

Whether the conversion was forced or willful remains arguable, however, we all know how Pakistanis would have responded if a Muslim would have been converted on live television. The ensuing catharsis would have engulfed the entire country in a raging fire; however, the minimal reaction this episode has received just proves that we are a failed society.

Equally if not more, Pakistan’s media ethics are also to be questioned. The code of conduct which is found missing in most of the cases is one of the main reasons why such grotesque shows are approved for broadcast.

Who has given electronic media the right to disseminate such negative propaganda about religion? Is it not more important to address issues related to the suppressed minorities of Pakistan and broadcast messages of peace in harmony during Ramazan?

It is important to understand that unless we learn to live in mutual harmony, we will continue to suffer. The silent majority must rise and reprimand such media houses, producers and anchorpersons who entice masses to laud such medieval practises.

We saw a revolution on social media after Khan’s “chasing couples in park” fiasco and we must continue to raise our voice. The change will take time; however, it will also only be brought about by you.

 


Faiza Mirza
The writer is a Reporter at Dawn.com

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