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Shocking TV interview haunts Dr Aamir Liaquat’s career
Daily Times Monitor
ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: President Pervez Musharraf’s favourite Islamic TV preacher, the minister of state for religious affairs, Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain, has finally shot himself, not in the foot but almost in the head, South Asia Tribune reported on Wednesday.
“The minister, who was already in trouble over his allegedly fake degrees scandal and his sharp criticism of the Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and is being replaced by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), despite all his denials, went on record in a TV interview last week and said Pakistan supported Iraqi insurgent leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and what he was doing to US forces in Iraq,” it reported.
“Aamir said this in an interview to ARY’s famous host, Dr Shahid Masood, on the subject of a fatwa (decree) issued by some Pakistani religious scholars recently, on whether suicide bombing was permissible in Islam. Aamir had been called to discuss the fatwa along with senior Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed,” it said.
“The young and inexperienced minister, a loud-mouth who offends listeners, said such ‘truthful’ things about Pakistan’s policy on jihad in Iraq and Kashmir and even so strongly blasted President Musharraf for supporting the US that ARY TV decided not to run the programme on popular talk show Views-on-News,” South Asia Tribune added.
Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, who was the other guest on the talk show, was shocked out of his senses when he heard the comments of the minister during the interview. He asked Aamir several times whether he was speaking in his personal capacity or on behalf of the MQM or the Musharraf government. When he was told that he was representing the government’s point of view, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed reportedly could not refrain from making the following remarks: ‘If this is what enlightened moderation of General Musharraf means, who in hell can oppose it. The MMA will fully support the MQM and Musharraf if this is the official policy’,” it said.
“The whole show became so ridiculous that ARY decided not to run it, but the tape immediately became a hot potato and was soon in tremendous demand from all interested parties,” South Asia Tribune reported.
Hafiz Hussain Ahmed confirmed the story of the censored TV show to South Asia Tribune. It quoted him as saying that he was shortly going to protest to the ARY TV Channel for not running the interview, as the minister had repeatedly said that it was the official government policy.
“The minister agreed with all the points that I raised and all the arguments for jihad that I made and concurred that it was jihad being fought by Muslims in Iraq and the Pakistani government supported it. I was so surprised that I told him on record that if this is the meaning of enlightened moderation of General Musharraf, we (the MMA) are with you and kon kambakht mukhalifat kar sakta hay (which Godforsaken soul can oppose it),” it quoted him as saying.
“ARY officials in Dubai and Islamabad refused to say why the interview had not been shown but Hafiz Hussain Ahmed said he would be protesting to the channel and urging them to release the tape as it would open the eyes of the world,” South Asia Tribune reported.
“When Hafiz Hussain Ahmed started asking questions about the interview, the secret service got wind of what had happened and immediately demands were made from the ARY administration to let the authorities have a copy of the dreaded tape,” it said.
“Surprisingly, the London headquarters of the MQM also got wind of what had happened in the interview and Altaf Hussain, who had already summoned Aamir Liaquat Hussain to London, also started looking for a copy of the tape,” it added.
South Asia Tribune quotes US diplomatic sources in Islamabad as telling it that they had heard about the interview and that they would like to hear the tape and what the minister had said about President Musharraf’s policy about suicide attacks by Zarqawi’s men on US forces.
It quoted sources as saying later that Pakistani authorities had informed the US diplomats about the contents of the interview and everyone might soon be watching the tape of the interview.
“Whether President Musharraf, Altaf Hussain or the US diplomats have received the cassette and heard Dr Aamir’s comments or not is not yet confirmed, but experts in Islamabad said it is only a matter of time that everyone concerned will hear what this outspoken minister had to say and then the chips would fall where they may,” it added.
South Asia Tribune quotes sources close to Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, who heard the minister in awe during the interview, as saying that the minister had become emotional while talking about jihad and suicide bombings and was grilled by the host of the programme, Dr Shahid Masood, who almost trapped him into making statements which no politician in such a high political position would make.
It quotes the sources as saying that Aamir had openly criticised President Musharraf for his pro-US policies and had fully supported the jihadis in Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir, but at the same time he had insisted that suicide bombings in Pakistan were against Islam.
“‘Anywhere, if there is one American soldier present, suicide bombing is permissible in Islam,’ Dr Aamir was quoted by these sources as having said on record. ‘There are times when the truth must be told,’ he added in one remark,” South Asia Tribune reported.
“The minister was the main sponsor when about 50 Pakistani religious leaders issued the fatwa against suicide bombings in Pakistan, which according to some analysts, was done to please President Musharraf. But in his exuberance the minister was caught on the wrong foot when questioned by ARY and Geo TV Channels about such attacks in Iraq and other places,” it added.
South Asia Tribune quoted sources in London as saying that MQM Chief Altaf Hussain had already been told by the army to name a replacement for the minister, as he had become too controversial and out-spoken in his remarks and it was difficult to keep him at the cabinet post.
“The London sources also revealed a shocking story about Dr Aamir’s brother, Imran Liaquat Hussain, who studied in Iran and later declared himself an ‘Ayatollah’ opposed to the clerics of Iran,” it said, adding, “Dr Imran was arrested in Iran and later came to Karachi where he took up a fight with MQM Chief Altaf Hussain and declared him ‘an agent of Iran, and a mafia don’. He also issued a fatwa calling for Altaf Hussain’s death and accused the MQM of Wall Street Journal’s journalist Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder.”
“He claimed that the MQM was getting funds from Iran,” South Asia Tribune said.
“In response to his statements in 2002, Altaf Hussain pressured his father, who was also a senior MQM leader to disown his son and Sheikh Liaquat Hussain did exactly that, saying the statements issued by his ‘Ayatollah’ son were stupid, misleading and provocative and he as his father had nothing to do with these views of his son,” it added.
“Imran Liaquat Hussain also has a website where he has numerous press clippings of his war against the MQM and its leader Altaf Hussain. He also supported President Musharraf in the 2002 referendum,” it reported.