GEO TV Blasphemy- Religious Concern OR Concern for TV ratings?

By Majed Iqbal- A morning Show broadcast on GEO television, an international broadcaster has come under intense scrutiny earlier this week after a Qawalli was controversially played for a ‘Celeb couple’ on their mock TV wedding, a new phenomenon for daytime Programming.

Ulama blasted the show as blasphemous when the lyrics of the Qawalli about the Holy Prophet, Muhammad (SAW)’s daughter and Son in law were made synonymous to the ‘celebs’ getting married. The hostess, Shaista Lodhi has been getting a grilling for allowing such religious boundaries to be contravened on her show and is now even thinking of leaving the country to avoid any physical harm.

Ulama have also declared watching GEO Television Haraam as a direct result of the controversial show after anchor Mubashar Luqman, from rival television network ARY picked up the story on his show.

It is without doubt that Pakistan has spiralled deeply into social chaos with the advent of the ‘Television boom’ which was given airtime during Musharraf’s tenure under the guise of his ‘enlightened moderation’. A vast array of private operators since emerged offering a plethora of Western mimicked programming that primarily served the interests of elite families who for one reason or the other seemed to be fascinated by all that is ‘Western’.

Such secularists have been at the forefront of painting Islam as the reason for societal stagnation in Pakistan today and have championed Secularism as the way forward. The programming on these networks are evident of this deep desire to make Islam detached further from people’s daily lives and reduce it to rituals that be limited to homes and places of worship. In fact, in such people’s eyes, Islam itself should be challenged under the philosophy of ‘Freedom of thought’ and ‘Freedom of Speech’. Anyone who is unable to stomach this is conveniently labelled as ‘Radical’, ‘Extreme’ or simply ‘backward’.

It is now evident that secularism doesn’t really protect the beliefs of people and such shows are desperate measures to climates the Pakistani nation with wishy-washy ideas about Islam and to spark debates on ‘Extremism ‘ against those who plan to challenge this.

The REAL debate is about the active deployment of secular values in Pakistan and its militant in its application.

It is also worth mentioning that ARY is no defender of Islamic ideas as it rests no differently in its Programming to GEO Television. The ONLY reason ARY took it upon it self to report the story on one of its Shows was to boost its popularity ratings. This has become the fundamental benchmark for all Television Networks, to win the ratings war.


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