Aamir Liaquat Hussain, controversial Pakistani TV host, found dead at home
A controversial Pakistani TV host, televangelist and politician has been found dead in his home aged 50.
Aamir Liaquat Hussain, a former member of Imran Khan’s party, was found unconscious in his locked bedroom in Karachi early in the day. Doctors were called, but he was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.
It comes less than a month after Liaquat’s third wife – 18-year-old Syeda Dania Aamir – filed for divorce over being an abusive alcoholic who forced her to make pornographic videos with other men, he claims.
Liaquat was both a hugely popular and a hugely divisive figure in Pakistan – a former televangelist and minister of religious affairs who later hosted game shows in which he once gave babies away to childless couples.
Aamir Liaquat Hussain, a controversial Pakistani TV presenter and politician, has been found dead at home for weeks after being separated from 18-year-old third wife Dania (left and right)
Liaquat rose to prominence as a television evangelist in the early 2000s before becoming minister of religious affairs, then returned to television after being forced to resign in 2007.
Servant Javaid, who spoke to Pakistani newspaper Standsaid he knocked on Liaquat’s locked bedroom door several times in the morning, but got no answer.
He called the authorities, who forced the door and found Liaquat unconscious.
Javaid said Liaquat had complained of chest pains and mourned his marriage the night before, accusing his ex-wife of putting a “curse” on him.
Liaquat’s career started in 2001 on the popular Pakistani TV channel Geo where he hosted a religious show called Aalim Online which gained him a huge following.
The son of a politician, a father and a columnist mother, he got his own start in politics in 2002 when he won the election as part of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement party.
Liaquat was quickly promoted to Minister of Religious Affairs by then Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, a post he held until 2007 when he was forced to resign because he said British Indian author Salman Rushdie “deserved to die”.
He returned to TV, this time hosting a wildly popular game show called Ramazan, which aired in seven-hour marathon periods during the Islamic holy month.
During the shows, spectators were picked to answer questions about the Quran and were awarded major prizes such as motorbikes, washing machines, microwave ovens and refrigerators.
During a highly controversial series of shows in July and August 2013, Liaquat gave away babies to childless couples chosen from the audience.
Liaquat hosted a religiously themed game show Ramazan in which he handed out prizes to people for answering questions about the Quran – ever giving away babies (pictured)
The babies had been donated to the show by a charity they found abandoned in Karachi, and Liaquat insisted that the parents had been vetted.
Liaquat defended the episodes, saying the children were brought to him by a charity that collects abandoned babies from the streets of Karachi and that the couples had been vetted beforehand.
But, CNN reported at the time, the couples were not told in advance that they would have children during the show and were asked to sign all paperwork — meaning the adoptions were not legally binding.
He then revived his political career in 2018, winning elections for a second time as a member of Imran Khan’s PTI party, before splitting his ways with the body after Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote earlier this year.
Liaquat’s personal life was also turbulent. It’s not clear when Liaquat married his first wife – Bushra – but the couple were together long enough to have two children: daughter Dua and son Ahmed.
They divorced some time before 2020, with Bushra later revealing that Liaquat told her the news over the phone in December of that year while talking to his second wife – Syeda Tuba Aamir – whom he had married two years earlier.
Liaquat had grown embittered since his third divorce, hinting he intended to leave Pakistan ‘forever’ in social media posts
Pakistani marriage laws allow a man to divorce his wife without the wife’s consent or knowledge, after which he is free to remarry.
But the second union lasted only two years, with Tuba filing for divorce through khula — a split that the wife initiates — in February of this year.
Liaquat wasted no time remarrying, this time to 18-year-old Dania, whom he tied the knot later that same month.
But that marriage fell even faster when Dania revealed that she also filed for divorce through khula in May, after just four months together.
Dania tried to justify the move in a tearful Instagram video in which she accused Liaquat of being an alcoholic, a drug user, physically and emotionally abusive and prostitutes her for other men.
She claimed he was impotent and forced her to have sex with other men on video, which he would then distribute to people abroad.
If she refused, Liaquat would lock her up for days, she claimed. He also threatened to shoot her, strangled her and beat her in front of the servants, she said.
Liaquat denied all of the claims, but Dania said she had evidence she was willing to present at their upcoming divorce hearings.
Liaquat had returned to politics in 2018 as part of Imran Khan’s PKI party, but recently resigned when the leader was ousted in a confidence vote
Around the same time, photographs of Liaquat in compromising positions were also published.
Liaquat responded by uploading bitter posts to Instagram saying goodbye to his country and ex-wives, claiming they never cared about him.
In one such message, on May 18, he wrote: “In a while I will release my last statement about the filthy fiasco from the country of Pakistan and then leave forever.”
The news of his death caused an outpouring of grief.
The spokesman for President Dr. Arif Alvi wrote on Twitter: “The President expressed his condolences and… [prayed for the strength of] the family [to bear the loss]†
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari wrote: ‘Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain led a dynamic life from journalism to politics.
“He proved his mettle in various areas of life by writing and speaking.”
The National Assembly released messages of condolence from President Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Vice-President Zahid Akram Durani, who mourned his “sad passing”.