In an attempt to win the war for ratings during Ramadan, Pakistan's top TV cleric has started giving away babies during his prime-time show. So far, Aamir Liaquat Hussain has presented two childless couples with babies that were abandoned. During an episode last week, Hussain shocked his audience by showing a baby girl to the camera and saying that he was going to give her away.
“This is the beautiful girl who was thrown on pile of garbage by somebody. See how beautiful and innocent she is,” he said.
Muhammad Ramzan Chhipa, the head of Chhipa Welfare Association, then handed the baby to a couple who had been unsuccessfully trying to have children. “We have lots of babies that are just abandoned, left in the garbage or other dirty places,” Chhipa said. “Often we just find the bodies so our message that we make is to tell people to bring their babies to us, don’t just leave them.”
The wife called the baby “the gift of Ramadan.” Her husband talked about the couple’s struggles. “These 14 years were full of hardships, people asked to go for second marriage but I remained patient and also asked my wife to be patient,” said the husband.
Hussain ran a similar gimmick on his show this week, The Telegraph reported.
Bina Shah is a writer who works close to where the show is filmed. She said that the stunts were just examples of what shows will do to drive up ratings in a hugely competitive market. “It just speaks to the commercialization of everything in Pakistani society including religion,” she said. “And giving away the baby stunt on television was the worst violation of media ethics I can think of.”