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Why Pak TV anchor Maya Khan is under attack

January 23, 2012 15:20 IST

A morning show host of a television channel has invited the wrath of hundreds of Pakistanis for trying to drill moral sense into young couples dating in Karachi's parks.

In a bid to perhaps shore up her ratings, Maya Khan, host of Subha Savera Maya Khan Ke Saath on Samaa TV, decided to chase couples dating in public parks on a January morning.

She included young and not-so-young women and two "analysts" on her mission to give an insight into the dating behaviour of couples and to comment on their body language.

While most couples made good their escape seeing a horde of women with cameramen approaching them, some countered them bravely.

"Do your parents know that you are here," Maya Khan asked a couple perched on a bench.

"Do you know what people think of couples who date like this? Do you know how bad it is for the reputation of girls to be seen like this," she charged.

Of the few couples "interviewed" by Khan, one said they were engaged. Khan's team was, however, not happy with their relationship status.

"Engagement is just a commitment. It is not a nikaah. It is not legal," pontificated one of Khan's analysts when she was asked to comment.

The only couple who Khan's team managed to shoot at some length told her that they did not owe her an explanation.

"We are not accountable to anyone except our parents," said a college-going student wearing a veil.

Khan's next question was: "Do your parents know you are here?" The student replied in the negative and Khan beamed as if she had just won a war.

Pakistani bloggers and Twitter users have slammed Khan's behaviour, asking people to boycott Samaa TV.

Some even asked the channel to take her off air and others said they intended to complain to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority about her "moral policing".

"Maya Khan is not crazy, she is evil," Tweeted lawyer and columnist Tammy Haq, asking people to boycott Samaa TV.

A blog on The Express Tribune newspaper's website generated tremendous traffic.

"See, girls fall in love pretty much every single day of the week and so do boys. Sometimes they make the right decision, sometimes they make mistakes. It's called being human," Mehreen Kasana said in her An Open Letter to Maya Khan on the blog.

"But trust me, they don't need a team of middle-aged women hounding them down in public places to enlighten them about their decisions. And trust me, their mothers will handle whatever happens. No one asked you or anyone else to take the responsibility of scrutinising them," Kasan wrote.

Comments in response to the blog are largely against Khan's decision to accost couples in the park.

"This is open violation of public privacy and human rights. What's the big deal if I want to go out to have a private chat with my friend or my girlfriend peacefully in a park? These kind of shows must be banned," posted a reader.

Some criticised Khan for not donning a veil before deciding to indulge in moral policing.

"Just suppose if Maya were in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, she would be punished for not wearing veil, thus if someone is herself/himself not perfect, so how they can change society. Dating is part and parcel of our society from decades and it cannot be eliminated in this way," read another comment.

Others compared Khan with another TV anchor, Meher Bokhari, whose diatribe against Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was blamed by some for his assassination by a police guard.

Ever since the show was telecast last week, a petition has been signed to take Khan off air.

Others have made public a video on YouTube that shows Khan singing and dancing with a man to expose her "hypocritical ways".


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