Of morning shows and blasphemy

On May 14, 2014, Geo’s morning show Utho Jaago Pakistan aired the live morning show-marriage of Veena Malik and Asad Bashir. It was as loud as any other wedding on television–perhaps a bit too loud because of the bride’s celebrity status. But, being a celebrity wedding, it would go in vain if any controversies didn’t arise from it. The controversy was fueled by none other than ARY’s Mubasher Lucman in his show Khara Sach with Mubasher Lucman in which he accused Geo and Shaista Wahidi of blasphemy. I wasn’t surprised since this was not the first time Lucman accused someone of doing anti-religious activities. What shocked me, however, was the level Lucman could stoop to just to undermine Geo.

The allegedly blasphemous qawwali glorified the marriage of Hazrat Ali to Prophet Muhammad’s daughter Bibi Fatima al-Zahra. Mubasher Lucman had a field day with it; it was Eid for him. Now, I am not a supporter of Geo and trying to defend them, but the last time I checked, ascribing the attributes of a revered and holy figure to someone is rife in our culture and is not exactly considered blasphemy. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand that the qawwal was not calling Malik, Bibi Fatima or Bashir, Hazrat Ali, he was implying that the ambience was the same as that of the marriage of these two Companions of the Prophet (please note that it wasn’t even in the slightest way possible same as them). These are called metaphor, personification and hyperbole, techniques that poets have used for centuries without getting accused of blasphemy.

I take my hat off in Geo’s petty efforts to increase their ratings. What in the world is the point of marrying an already married couple on national television? And can’t they bother to check for any objectionable content before they do anything? It just shows mediocre planning. And Lucman is reaching new levels of pseudo-intellect every day to undermine Geo. Who, Lucman sahib, would dare to ‘blaspheme’ intentionally on national television, given the kind of law that we have against it? Wahidi has got enough brains to understand that. But Geo was quick in their response: they apologized immediately and convinced ulama to forgive them which, I think, is fair enough. Would Lucman have left ARY if this program was aired on his channel? I would have loved to see his reaction if that happened. Would he, then, have campaigned to ban ARY?

Why has the media forgotten their role in the wake of this rat’s race? Do they not know the difference between liberalism and sensationalism? I am not defending any journalist or channel; I am just saying that mistakes do happen. It is what being human demands of you. No one is free of shortcomings. Mubasher Lucman may have his own. The fact that Geo has apologized should be enough for everyone to accept that this was just like any other blasphemous act in the past: a controversy out of nothing. This should not be turned into another Hamid Mir episode.