News / Arts & Entertainment

Babies Given Away Live on Air in Pakistani Talk Show

A childless couple kisses their newly adopted daughter, Fatima, whom Pakistani television talk show host Aamir Liaquat Hussain gave them on his show, as they sit at the Chhipa Welfare Association office in Karachi, Aug. 1, 2013.
A childless couple kisses their newly adopted daughter, Fatima, whom Pakistani television talk show host Aamir Liaquat Hussain gave them on his show, as they sit at the Chhipa Welfare Association office in Karachi, Aug. 1, 2013.
Reuters
Pakistani television is showing what many call its most controversial content yet in a ruthless quest for ratings: a talk-show host who gives away babies live on air.

Aamir Liaquat Hussain, a bespectacled 41-year-old with a neatly trimmed beard, gave away two abandoned infant girls to childless families last month and plans to give away a baby boy this week.

“If we didn't find this baby, a cat or a dog would have eaten it,” Hussain proclaimed during one broadcast, before presenting a tiny girl wrapped in pink and red to her new parents. The audience erupted with applause.

Aamir Liaquat Hussain, host of the Geo TV channel program "Amaan Ramazan", gestures while asking participants questions during a live show in Karachi, July 26, 2013.Aamir Liaquat Hussain, host of the Geo TV channel program "Amaan Ramazan", gestures while asking participants questions during a live show in Karachi, July 26, 2013.
x
Aamir Liaquat Hussain, host of the Geo TV channel program "Amaan Ramazan", gestures while asking participants questions during a live show in Karachi, July 26, 2013.
Aamir Liaquat Hussain, host of the Geo TV channel program "Amaan Ramazan", gestures while asking participants questions during a live show in Karachi, July 26, 2013.
Hussain is one of Pakistan's most popular talk-show hosts. During his marathon broadcasts he cooks, interviews clerics and celebrities, entertains children and hosts game shows.

He usually gives prizes like motorbikes, mobile phones and land deeds to audience members who answer questions about Islam.

But at the beginning of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, when television stations battle fiercely for ratings, Hussain astonished Pakistan when he presented two families with babies.

“We were told that we had passed all the interviews and had been selected to adopt a baby,” said Riaz Uddin, 40, an engineer. “We got our baby on live TV.”

The abandoned babies were rescued by the Chhipa Welfare Association, a Pakistani aid organization.

“In a day or two, the next baby will be given away, God willing,” its head, Ramzan Chhipa, told Reuters on Thursday.

While the Chhipa teams scour the garbage dumps and other sites for discarded newborns, Hussain is also appealing for babies directly.

“If any family cannot afford to bring up their new born baby due to poverty or illness then instead of killing them, they should hand over the baby to Dr. Aamir,” a notice on his website reads. The children would be given to deserving couples on air, the notice said.

The show's producers did not return Reuters calls seeking comment. It was not clear if poor families wishing to keep their children would also be helped.

Fighting for viewers

Many Pakistanis expressed disgust that abandoned babies were being given away in what they see as an attempt to boost ratings. Chhipa insisted thousands of people wanted a baby and all potential parents were properly vetted.

The true outrage, he said, was the poverty forcing families to abandon children.

Hussain's show is one of many such broadcasts. The Pakistani media has flourished over the past decade or so following the liberalization of the industry, particularly broadcasting, after decades of tight state control.

Now, instead of battling state restrictions, presenters fight for audiences and advertising by seeing who is most outrageous.

Recent episodes include a female anchor stalking couples in a park to challenge their morality, and a news program which once ran a live broadcast showing a staff member bleeding to death in an operating theater after he was shot in a riot.

Even among this company, Hussain stands out. In 2008, he hosted scholars who called for the deaths of Ahmadis, a persecuted religious sect in Pakistan. Within a day, two prominent Ahmadis had been shot dead.

The year before, he had to resign from his post as junior minister for religious affairs after denouncing author Salman Rushdie for blasphemy, a crime punished by death in Pakistan.

Since then, his university degree has been exposed as a fake and a video showing him making crude jokes with clerics between takes of his show has leaked onto YouTube.

“There is nothing they won't do to get viewers,” said  comedian Sami Shah. “If I was a cynic, I'd say this can only end badly. But since I'm a realist, I'll say it's already ended terribly.”

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Singer Leyla McCalla takes up not only the guitar, but the banjo and cello to perform songs from her new disc, “A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” music that mixes the Creole rhythms of Haiti with the French Quarter flavor of New Orleans on this edition of "The Hamilton Live."