Televangelist Aamir Liaquat has repeatedly incurred the ire and disgust of the public, political figures and the judiciary over his consistent rhetoric peddling bigotry, misogyny, hate-speech and downright foul-mouthed invectives through his shows. Recently winning the venerated vocation of an MNA on PTI’s ticket, the controversial TV-personality has come under fire for bringing his tasteless rhetoric into political circles to ridicule and demean contemporaries and members of the opposition.
Where the Supreme Court has taken up the mantle of rectifying the ills in our socio-political matrix, a move that resonates all around is the issuing of a show cause notice to Mr. Liaquat for alleged contempt of court, with the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarking “that such people should not be in the parliament”.
The CJP has voiced a concern that many people in and out of the polity have raised; “A person who does not know what to say at a public forum, should he be in the parliament?” However, where the chief justice has deliberated suspending the notification of Liaquat’s recent electoral victory, the fact remains that he has been democratically elected under the people’s mandate; the MNA-elect’s behaviour, while juvenile and repulsive, can be chastised and held accountable under the rule of law, yet if it comes to the matter of courts manicuring the make-up of the parliament, such an undertaking runs the risk of being labeled as a contravening of judicial powers into actively restructuring the polity. Not only that, if action against Amir Liaquat is grounded by ineligibility for parliamentary office based on his historically prejudiced, chauvinistic and vulgar behaviour, such remedial action can just as well be enacted on the motley of elected members that have expressed similar views and invectives.
Such vitriol and juvenile behavior, indeed, has no place in the parliament and stands to subvert the inviolability of the office of a parliamentarian. Where swift action has to be taken to curb such conduct and set an example against it, the democratic process also cannot be superseded. While Amir Liaquat’s flippantly offensive and crude behavior deserves contempt and criticism all around, suspending his victory would set a problematic precedent for the judicio-political balance.
As Mr. Liaquat comes into the parliament on PTI’s ticket, the onus should be the party itself - one that now bears the political spotlight- to repudiate Mr Liaquat’s conduct. Given Mr. Liaquat’s affinity for inciting controversy, his affiliation with the party will surely prove to be a thorn in the party’s side.