Pakistan TV Show Gives Away Babies

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 2 2013 4:48 PM

Pakistan TV Host Insists Giving Away Babies Live on Camera Is Not a Ploy to Boost Ratings

A popular television host in Pakistan is causing global controversy for his decision to give away babies on live television. Aamir Liaquat Hussain hosts marathon 12-hour shows during the holy month of Ramadan and is watched by millions. His show is a mixture of celebrity interviews, game show and giveaways (including hot meals) for the poor. And while he has long been controversial, many have criticized his latest stunt: giving away two baby girls to childless couples on live television. Hussain says he plans to give away a third baby soon, insisting it isn’t just a shameless quest for ratings, but rather an effort to help unite childless couples with needy infants and promote adoption.

"It is not like parents come in the show, and (we) deliver the baby like a prize. What prize? It is rubbish to say 'who wants to win a baby?'" he told AFP.

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The BBC talks to the new parents, and they sound ecstatic. The couples were vetted by a private charity that claims to have carried out the necessary, if quick, diligence. And while the program has caused controversy around the world, in Pakistan the show has mostly been met with relief that the babies were able to find a home consdiering more than 300 babies are found dead each year in Karachi alone.

“If we didn't find this baby, a cat or a dog would have eaten it," Hussain said during a broadcast before handing over a baby girl to happy parents. Still, one of the most controversial aspects of the effort is that Hussain and his production team aren't just scouring the city for abandoned babies, they’re also calling on families who can’t take care of their newborns to hand them over to the program, points out Reuters.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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