Pakistani politician and controversial televangelist Aamir Liaquat Hussain will play slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an upcoming film, according to reports in the Pakistani media. Hussain, who hosts a religious programme and is a Pakistan Tehkeek-e-Insaaf legislator, said in the television show Naya Din on Samaa TV, “The film is on Burhan Wani. I am playing the role of Burhan Wani. I don’t consider myself a hero, but Burhan Wani was definitely a hero for the Kashmiri people.”
Burhan Wani joined the Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen in 2010, rose to be its divisional commander, and soon became a local legend. He was killed at the age of 21 in 2016 by security forces. Wani’s death sparked violent protests and retaliations and is seen as a defining moment in the history of the Kashmiri insurgency.
The Pakistani film on Wani will be directed by actor Ayub Khoso. In an interview on the Naya Din show, Khoso said, “The production shouldn’t be one which shows a Kashmiri fighter and shows him romancing and him singing songs and his lover prancing around him. I don’t want that, we’re going to make a clean, issue-based film based on the Kashmir cause.”
Aamir Liaquat Hussain, who is 51 years old, joined Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 2018. Hussain previously represented the Muttahida Quami Movement in Pakistan’s Parliament from 2002 to 2008, but was later expelled by the party. He joined PTI and re-entered Parliaament by winning in Pakistan’s general election in 2018.
Hussain has frequently sparked controversy for his hardline remarks and television stunts. In 2017, he was asked by Pakistan’s media regulator to apologise for hate speech after he accused liberal activists, bloggers and journalists of blasphemy and treachery on his TV show Aisay Nahin Chalega.
“In September 2008, Liaqat dedicated an entire episode to exploring the beliefs of the Ahmedis, a Muslim sect which has been declared as ‘un-Islamic’ by much of the orthodoxy,” BBC said in a 2012 article on the rise of televangelists in Pakistan. Two of Hussain’s guests said on the show that anyone who associated with false prophets was “worthy of murder”.
“Within 24 hours of the broadcast, a prominent member of the Ahmedi community was shot dead in the small town of Mirpur Kass,” the BBC report noted. “Twenty-four hours later Khalid Yusaf’s father, another Ahmedi community leader, was killed by two masked gunmen.”
Hussain hands out gifts on his show, including babies. “On one show during Ramadan, he brought two abandoned infants from a welfare organisation onto his live show, where they were adopted by two couples,” BBC noted.
Hussain has earned frequent bans for his incendiary television content. He won an appeal against a ban from appearing on television in Pakistan’s Supreme Court in 2017. In 2018, he created a row after posting derogatory and sexist tweets about Pakistani politicians, including Sherry Rehman.