There has been a growing trend in Pakistan to watch and follow shows aired in US and India such as American Idol and then Indian Idol. Yesterday while watching ‘Pakistan Idol,’ started by a private TV channel, I was shocked when one of the contestants who was visually impaired was rejected based on his disability. This was despite the fact that all the three judges had praised his voice quality and singing capability. I am no music connoisseur but even I was impressed by his voice and talent. However, the three judges after appreciating and acknowledging his talent dropped the bombshell that because of his ‘visual limitations’ he was not good enough for the show, as if he was a commodity.

Could such a thing have ever happened on American Idol, the precursor of this show? The whole society would have been up in arms against the producers of the show and the judges. Are we trying to marginalize the disabled as not being good enough to rise and become Pakistan Idol, and this happened in the same week when we celebrated the day of the disabled!

My head hangs in shame for the parochialism of the so-called physically able but morally disabled producers and the judges of the show, and the general deafening silence of the society to our attitude towards these physically challenged but otherwise titans of our society. We must demand the producers of the show and the three judges to issue a public apology for their reprehensible behavior to these special people, and the chance for that particular contestant to be judged not on how he looks, but on how he performs.


Karachi, December 8.