PESHAWAR: Rights activists and political leaders staged a protest in Peshawar on Monday demanding an apology from PTV for airing content “mocking” Pashtuns during its Eid transmission.
The protesters, who had gathered outside the Peshawar Press Club, also demanded that the state-run broadcaster should fire the staff involved in running a “humiliating” piece of poetry against Pashtuns on its show Hansna Mana Hai.
They urged the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to take necessary steps to stop racial profiling and stereotyping on national and private TV channels.
Awami National Party (ANP) Central General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain, leading Pashto scholar Dr Abasin Yousafzai and Dr Said Alam Mehsud led the demonstrators, who carried placards reading,“No to racism, no to intolerance, protest against PTV.”
The protesters warned that they would file petitions in court and also stage a sit-in outside the Parliament House if their demands were not met.
Jawad Hasan Jawad, a poet, through his verses in a comedy poetry segment of the show, had mocked bomb blasts in Pashtun areas. He also ridiculed Pashtuns and associated them with illegal trade.
As if that were not enough, the poet compared Pashtuns to sheep, saying, “They smell like sheep… bathing once a year.”
Shafeeq Gigyani, who played a leading role in organising the rally, said they were protesting against the stigmatising and stereotyping of Pashtuns from the platform of the national broadcaster.
“We are happy that PTV and federal government officials have taken notice and assured us that strict action would be taken against those who had allowed such content to be aired on national television,” he added.
ANP’s Mian Iftikhar Hussain said such humiliation could not be tolerated.
“This has been going on on private TV channels for a long time but we weren’t expecting PTV to air such content,” he added. “We have made sacrifices for the country in the fight against militants.”
Dr Abasin Yousafzai, while addressing the protesters, said the humiliating poetry was not humour, but racism.
“Who has given the poet [Jawad Hasan Jawad] the licence to mock Pashtuns on national TV?” he added.
Dr Yousafzai said the audience in the show were clapping and applauding the “so-called’” poet for making fun of Pashtuns and that should also be condemned.
Said Alam Mehsud, the chairman of Pakhtunkhwa Ulasi Tehrik, said the poet alone was not responsible for what had happened but all those around him including the PTV staff too were to blame for it.
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