Obituary for Amir Liaquat Hussain

"I would only say that I liked his wit, naat khawani, and antics on the screen. What I disliked about him was his crossing of ethical lines on social, religious and political issues"

Amir Liaquat Hussain, a famous (or infamous, whatever you call him) TV personality and maverick lawmaker from Karachi, recently, stunned the country with his sudden death. When he was alive, he used his wit, and skills of engaging people on TV screen effortlessly, and built a huge fan following and an equally large section of haters. He mastered the fun of being in the media – for both good and bad reasons. And whatever the reason and whatever the reaction of the people, he never cared about anything. This is what made him a media man.

His sudden demise was received, what our newsroom’s favourite jargon for such occasions is, with shock by many, and joy by some others. Well, mourning is not an unusual reaction on demises. TV channels aired his death as breaking news and called his friends and colleagues to live transmission to highlight the aspects of Amir Liaquat’s life which are already known and those so far never unveiled. Talk show hosts also paid him tributes for ‘his services for the nation and religion’.

There was also no dearth of the people who did not hide their negative reactions for the late doctor. This lot was, however, restricted to social media as no newspaper and TV channel aired any negative commentary. The reaction of joy ensued a heated discussion, again on social media.

One oft repeated verse by the great saint poet, Mian Muhammad Bukhsh, comes to my mind for such occasions:

Dushman marey te khushi na kariya sajjna v mar jana

When the enemy dies, do not rejoice, near and dear ones will also taste death one day

Many social media activists came up with the cultural and religious values which require all of us not to talk bad about the deceased. Instead, they recommend that prayer for the peace of the departed soul be offered.

May Amir Liaquat rest in peace! May his family have strength and courage to bear the loss.

I have offered my prayers and I feel sorry for his family – widow Dania, two ex-wives and two children.

But the trend is changing fast that if a deceased has committed undesirable acts in their life, they must be discussed and publicized. So far my case in the case of Amir Liaquat Hussain, well, I would count myself neither a fan of him nor an ardent hater. I would only say that I liked his wit, naat khawani, and antics on the screen. What I disliked about him was his crossing of ethical lines on social, religious and political issues.

I remember I remained disturbed for weeks when the doctor converted a Hindu man to Islam on a live TV show. This rating mania has distorted our social fabrics, and Amir Liaquat Hussain was no saint. He also wanted high ratings, and media attention. And he is not alone in this race. Moreover, he put many people’s lives at risk through reckless ranting and talks. He wanted to remain in controversy and his haters provided him with fodder for his cause.

But this is just one face of his personality.

Another Amir Liaquat Hussain is unveiled by his friends. They are common people – naat khawans, singers, stage performers, writers, etc.

They say Amir Liaquat Hussain was a “yaroon ka yaar” (a man of friendship). Of them, many were just average performers, but Amir Liaquat Hussain patronised and groomed them, and today they are known figures of the country and are earning a respectable income for their families. They say that during their testing times, Amir Liaquat Hussain not only financially helped them, but also never ever mentioned those favours to them.

Long story short: though celebrating a death may be morally, socially and ethically wrong, but the death of a person who harmed the world or a large section of society, can be celebrated by expressing relief. One may mourn the death of Osama Bin Laden, but Americans may find relief and celebration in his death.

You may treat Amir Liaquat Hussain where he fits, according to your thoughts.