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Pakistani TV host who died 12 days ago won’t rest in peace. Fans force court to exhume body

Aamir Hussain gave away babies to childless couples on TV, delivered religious sermons, issued frequent abuses and fetched high ratings for TV channels.

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New Delhi: It’s not even a fortnight since PTI leader and Pakistani TV host Aamir Liquat Hussain died, and he is already back in the news. Just like his life, Hussain’s death is also turning into a whodunit controversy. His fans wouldn’t have it any other way. A court in Karachi has ordered the exhumation of his body on 23 June and post-mortem examination in order to determine the cause of his death amid concerns raised by his fans.

Elected MP in 2018 on PTI’s ticket, Liaquat also served as the Minister of State for religious affairs under Pervez Musharraf’s regime from 2004-2007. But it’s the other public role, of being a TV host, that kept Hussain in news and closer to controversies. He gave away babies to childless couples on television, delivered religious sermons, issued frequent abuses and successfully fetched high ratings for TV.

Now his death has Pakistan hooked. In less than two weeks after being buried, Liaquat will be back from his grave. The family had earlier denied autopsy on the body.

A petition was filed alleging that Hussain’s sudden death had raised suspicions among his fans, adding that he might have been killed over a property dispute. Certain conspiracy theories doing the rounds claim that Hussain’s X-ray suggested his bones were broken. However, these reports remain unconfirmed.

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The Express Tribune reported, “The police had also presented a report in court stating that the police surgeon could not ascertain the cause of death till an autopsy was performed. Abdul Ahad, a citizen, had filed a petition in the judicial magistrate’s court regarding the post-mortem, stating that Liaquat died under “mysterious circumstances” and determining the cause of his death was important as the deceased was a lawmaker and a TV host.”

According to Dawn, Hussain died in his house in Karachi’s Khudadad Colony. He was brought dead to the hospital after his health deteriorated.

“Karachi East Zone DIG Muquddus Haider had told Dawn that there appeared to be no injury marks on his body.”

Meanwhile, Liaqat’s former wife, Bushra Iqbal, took to Instagram to tell the world that it was the TV host’s heirs, Ahmad Aamir and Dua Aamir, who had refused his autopsy. Liaqat’s burial was delayed as the police had initiated an investigation into the death. But the matter was settled after his heirs gave their statements before a judicial magistrate.

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The controversies

In 2018, Liaqat’s TV shows were banned by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) over concerns of hate speech. Months before, in December 2017, he was banned by the Islamabad High Court from appearing on Television “till further notice”.

Abid Hussain of BBC Urdu remembered Liaquat in an article, summing up the deceased’s personality: “His antics on his game shows evoked admiration and disgust in equal measure. He’d hand out prizes but was equally at ease delivering religious fatwas and issuing sometimes inciteful, sometimes false statements against journalists and others. Expletive-laden monologues were mixed with sermons on Islamic values on his programme on Geo TV, arguably the most popular religious show in Pakistan’s TV history.”

Having married thrice, Aamir’s marriage and love life were also public affairs. Barely a month before his death, Hussain’s 18-year old wife had filed for a divorce, accusing him of domestic abuse and being a drug addict.

A news report on Hussain’s death in Dawn said: “Hussain’s love life had also remained at the centre of the public’s fascination. His last two marriages — and very public separations — dominated news cycles and social media chatter.”

Hussain joined GeoTV in 2001 where he hosted Aalim Online, a religious programme which became quite popular in Pakistan. Soon enough, he hosted Ramazan transmissions on both Geo TV and Bol News. The last show he hosted was also ‘Bol House with Amir Liaquat’. To all his broadcasters, he fetched strong ratings.

While his fans have welcomed the court’s order to find the truth, Pakistani actress and singer Bushra Ansari appealed not to give more pain to Liaquat’s children. In an Instagram post, she wrote: “We all are in pain due to the sudden death of Aamir Liaquat but social media has contributed a lot to tarnish his image. Please forgive him. Why anyone would kill him.. he was already dying. Do not give his children and him more pain.”

Calling the order of exhumation “extremely distressful”, Hussain’s second wife Syeda Tuba Anwar took to Twitter and expressed disagreement.

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