Pemra Ban On Hamza Ali Abbasi
This is the Politically incorrect version :
Ramzan transmissions seem to generate a new controversy every year but we can safely assume that they have reached an all-time low, when death threats are being issued on live TV. Last year there was a huge outcry when game show hosts decided that giving away Human babies might be a fun idea. This year Amir Liaqat decided to star in his own mini movie version of Waar and took part in some crass mime about a suicide. Quite rightly, Pemra issued Geo a notice asking for an explanation. What any of this has got to do with the holy month of fasting is anyone’s guess; but these shows get ratings and because before Iftar there is some kind of religious bent to the program , we all sit back ,accepting that this is the best it’s going to get.
Anyone who doubts that statement needs to look no further than the way Actor Hamza Ali Abbasi has been banned from further broadcasts of his Ramzan show by PEMRA. Abbasi is well known for his outspoken views on politics and anything else that comes to his mind .Unafraid of controversy, his Facebook posts are the stuff of legend: taking stands against item dances, thanking the Afghan Taliban, and criticizing Nobel prize winner Malala Yusefzai , to name a few . He was also one of the few people actually taking notice of the starving children in drought stricken Thar and one of the few people demanding justice for the abused children of Kasur. The one time culture secretary for PTI is a populist, whose millions of fans love him not just for his role as Pyarey Afzal but the way he seems to stand up for what they perceive as traditional values. There is nothing the Pakistani public loves more than a Kharra Banda , one who speaks his mind and says hang the consequences, couple this with his film star good looks and his celebrity status has reached iconic levels. Abbasi started hosting Ramzan Hamara Eman with the promise that he would raise the tone of his show, that he would actually discuss subjects that were relevant to current issues, helping to both inform and educate.
Abbasi’s promise to open a discussion about why the Ahmadi community has been declared non-Muslim and touch on Pakistan’s controversial Blasphemy laws in the last two broadcasts of Ramzan was met with undisguised menace. Influential sunni cleric Maulana Kaukab Noorani’s discussion with TV ONE anchor Shabbir Abu Talib was an open incitement, declaring that if Pemra does not take notice of such “bakwas” ….”Iss qowm ki ghairat zinda hai “…. “Agar Qanoon Faysla nahi karey ga tho Mussalman khud karrey ga” and warning channels not to “interfere; in matters of religion or pay the consequences. One can only ask where this ghairatmund qowm is when you need them. Is this the ‘qowm’ that did zero for the starving children of Thaar? Did we see anyone of these “ghairatmunds” stand up for the children of Kasur? Were these the “ghairatmunds” who took to the streets when they learned about the monumental corruption exposed by the Panama papers? Oh, that’s right, they didn’t. It’s a strange, world when the only ‘ghairat’ people have is connected to TV discussions but not to actual injustice?
Is it the job of an Alim to make incendiary statements against a person they disagree with? Is this any way to honor the prophet Mohammad (saw), whose essence was kindness and compassion? Is this the spirit of the sacred month of Ramzan when Mercy and forgiveness fall from the heavens? It is easy to treat those we agree with well, how we treat those who differ with us is the true test of both our patience and our tolerance. In a sweeping move PEMRA has banned both Shabbir Abu Talib and Hamza Ali Abbasi from their respective shows. Right and wrong are not equal, inciting violence and hosting a discussion forum are two entirely different things and should not be lumped in the same category. Even if PEMRA has done this out of concern for Abbasi’s safety it has allowed the religious mafia another soft victory in their quest to control and dominate any freedom of thought. One of the basic principles of any free society is the ability to disagree with each other respectfully. No one had to agree with anything Hamza Abbasi said they just had to listen and put their own argument forward.
Hamza is not an easy champion of dissent, often as not he has sided with forces that now call him a kaffir. His Facebook posts are full of contempt for what he calls “ pseudo liberals “ , who in turn accuse him of hypocrisy for making a living off of the space and open society the efforts of those same liberals has provided . However in this case he is in the right and his courage in addressing these issues deserves the support of every reasonable individual. How is a society that cannot even tolerate a simple discussion about minority rights or the misuse of Blasphemy laws going to find a solution to these problems? So let us enjoy the mindless tafree or entertainment that the Maulana sahib has recommended for us and leave the thinking to him and his ilk. This is how power is consolidated in a small group of people, because they are the only ones permitted to negotiate it. This is how agency is snatched from free people, Just as in ancient Rome meaningless spectacles and games were set up to distract the masses while the real decisions are taken behind closed doors.