Talk shows have always been controversial for their theatrics, but PTI leader Faisal Vawda went a step further when he brought a military boot to a show and placed in on the table during a live TV programme.
The federal minister’s theatrics aimed at heaping scorn at political opponents- particularly the PML-N- should be condemned. Vawda claimed that PML-N’s unconditional support for army amendment bills has shifted the party’s narrative from ‘give respect to the vote’ to ‘licking the boot’ just to protect their corrupt practices.
There has been immense criticism over the outlandish stunt as the TV anchorperson was unmoved and the military-style boot remained on screen for several minutes. Many questioned why the boot was allowed inside the studio of a renowned TV channel, while others considered it disrespect towards state institutions. The only person not embarrassed was Vawda himself, while other panelists, PML-N’s Javed Murtaza Abbasi and PPP’s senior leader Qammar Zaman Kaira, left the show in disgust.
Vawda appeared unapologetic saying that he was unaware of media laws. He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan was not pleased with his action but he stands firm on his statements. The victim was the TV anchorperson, Kashif Abbasi, whose popular show has now been slapped with a sixty days ban. The anchor denies that he was responsible for allowing the boot on TV but could have interfered to prevent it from being on screen for so long.
The ban imposed raises debate over PEMRA laws which suggest strict action against TV channels and the anchors while the guest who makes the controversial statements escapes any penalties. These laws conflict with the basic right to freedom of speech and expression, but restrict derogatory and frivolous statements against state institutions.
The regulatory body said that Vawda performed an unethical act while the anchor took the matter casually and cherished the incident. The blanket ban is rather unjustified as it impedes media freedom and should be lifted immediately. Journalists should be allowed to do their job independently while adhering to media laws and ethics.
Vawda is no stranger to controversy but by bringing a boot to a TV show he has also ridiculed the army by claiming its interference in political matters. It is an embarrassing moment for the PTI. The prime minister has restricted Vawda from appearing on any TV show for the next two weeks while anchor Kashif Abbasi is to remain off-screen for two months. Journalism once again suffers thanks to politicians.