I never really wanted to get into the whole Veena Malik debate on my blog, but something happened which made me realize that the issue is far greater than just one person and misogynist pricks are found everywhere; not just in Pakistan.
I was invited by BBC Asian Network to be part of a radio talk show on the why Veena Malik’s father has disinherited her on December 8th. I agreed to be on the show because it gave me opportunity to be on air with Veena Malik, who I find fascinating at so many levels.
The program started with the host Nihal (he is this really slow presenter who puts his listeners to sleep, I wonder why BBC hired him in the first place but I digress)asking Veena Malik how does she feel about being disinherited. She gave an appropriate response about getting her father to see her point of view eventually. He then took a caller, an army officer called Malik from Islamabad, who first refused to say salam (Muslim greetings) to Veena Malik because he thought of her as a vile disgusting creature who has insulted the her country (Pakistan) and her religion (Islam). He then went on to threaten Veena Malik (well indirectly of course) of dire consequences when she comes back. He also said that if his own daughter would have done something like this, he would have given it to her. This guy was given ample opportunity to engage with Veena Malik and they argued back and forth. As if that was not enough, he was allowed by the presenter to repeatedly insult the guest of the show, something I never expected on a BBC show.
Another female guest was allowed to ask Ms. Malik if she was a Muslim. When she said that yes, she is a Muslim and her religiosity is a private matter between her and her Allah, the caller was also allowed to mock Veena Malik.
In response to Veena Malik’s argument that she is part of entertainment industry and she will continue to do bold shoots to stay in the business, Presenter Nihal asked her a very pointed and leading question. He asked if Veena Malik is a Muslim and if she is asked to select between her religion and entertainment industry, what will she choose?
Now it was a very inappropriate question to ask in normal circumstances, but considering what has happened earlier this year –Salmaan Taseer’s murder – this kind of insensitivity was mind boggling and unprofessional. When the presenter turned to me to seek my opinion on Veena; I decided to point out his super unprofessional attitude and how his leading question can jeopardize his guest’s life. It was against journalism ethics 101 to put someone on spot and ask them to testify about their religiosity in hypothetical situations. Instead of responding to my objection in an adult and rational manner, Presenter Nihal took it as a personal offence and said something to the effect that he was right in raising that question as her Veena’s dad has already disinherited her. Before I could’ve responded to it, he cut me off and went to another person.
For starters,Veena’s dad disinheriting her does not give the present any right to mock and insult his guest in a manner that can put her life in danger. Secondly, his tone was accusatory when he was speaking with his guest and it was all good, but when a caller presented him with a genuine grievance, he cuts her off. That was real mature of him. Lastly, if he had allowed me to speak, I would have said that there should be some difference between him – a BBC presenter with a first world education – and Veena’s dad who, if I recall correctly, is a retired non commissioned officer in Pakistan army. Veena’s dad’s comments could be waived as something which is said in the heat of moment, but the comments of a supposedly responsible journalist who makes his living by talking to people and about people cannot be ignored that lightly.
I know it was a programme targeted towards the Asian Diaspora in UK and is not for your mainstream audience, but please, make an effort, and hire someone who is at least professional and courteous if not more.
PS: If you want to listen to it, you can do so for five more days here