An apology is not enough, Aamir Liaquat must be fired

ET: Social media is once again flooded with outrage at ‘Dr’ Aamir Liaquat – our nation’s foremost televangelist. During an episode of his morning show Subh-e-Pakistan, aired on Geo TV on December 22, one of Liaquat’s guests, Syed Arif Shah Owaisi, used inflammatory language to accuse the Ahmadi community of being responsible for terrorism in the country including the Peshawar attack.

To no one’s surprise, Liaquat applauded the cleric’s hate speech. On December 27, an Ahmadi was shot dead in Gujranwala. Such a sequence of events is not new to Liaquat’s television career. In September 2008, he promoted similar hate speech on his Geo TV show which was followed by the murders of three prominent Ahmadi leaders within two days of the broadcast. Neither Geo TV nor Liaquat ever apologised for their role in the incitement of anti-Ahmadi violence.

Unfortunately for them, such blithe indifference is no longer possible in post-Peshawar Pakistan. Following a nation-wide uproar, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued a show-cause notice to Geo. Moreover, the channel issued a ‘clarification’ on December 30, apologising for the editorial lapse. The statement is available on Geo’s website. Several members of the civil society, who wrote to the channel’s management team, received personal replies assuring us that Geo is taking necessary steps to strengthen their editorial review process. These are all very positive developments and Geo should be commended for responding to the concerns of the public.

However, it is hard not to dismiss these steps as mere PR damage control tactics when the channel continues to let an unrepentant Aamir Liaquat continue with his program without so much as a hint of an apology. Not only that, the official ‘clarification’ released by the channel leaves much to be desired. The statement notes that ‘a comment made by a guest’ during the morning show ‘violated the network’s code of conduct’.

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