Pakistan’s top TV cleric gives babies away in hit Ramadan show

Pakistan’s television wars have intensified in the battle for Ramadan ratings with the country’s most controversial TV cleric giving away babies on his prime-time show.

Aamir Liaquat Hussain has presented two abandoned babies to childless couples so far during Islam’s holy month.
His show’s heady mix of charity, piety and kitsch have made it a hit with viewers but also brought accusations that he is using religion to generate headlines.

In an episode broadcast last week, Mr Hussain stunned the studio audience by promising the gift of a baby.
“This is the beautiful girl who was thrown on pile of garbage by somebody. See how beautiful and innocent she is,” he said, showing a baby girl to the camera.

He then introduced a shell-shocked couple who were handed the baby by the head of a charity that rescues abandoned babies.

The tearful wife described the child as a “gift of Ramadan” before her husband described their frustration at not being able to have children.

“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,” he said.

The spectacle was repeated for a second time this week.

The babies were presented by Muhammad Ramzan Chhipa, who runs the Chhipa Welfare Association.
“We have lots of babies that are just abandoned, left in the garbage or other dirty places,” he 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.”
He declined to discuss how the couples were vetted but said they had previously approached his organisation to adopt children.