Self-righteous Maya Khan and the Height of Irresponsible Journalism

By Sonya Rehman

Morning talk show host Maya Khan and her team behind ‘Subah Saweray Maya Kay Sath’ on SAMAA TV, stand for all that is bizarre, absurd and beyond mediocre regarding local, Pakistani morning shows.

Maya Khan

Recently, this week, a Youtube video of one of the show’s episodes went viral.

Live, the show featured Khan huffing and puffing through Bin Qasim Park – a public park – in Karachi, with her team; which comprised of a sizable number of women and men.

Racing through the park, out of breath and eager, the holier-than-thou host was out to catch unsuspecting victims – young couples – sitting on park benches to interrogate whether or not the couple were married, or, were dating.

Like frenzied, trigger-happy hunters, these idiotic women amidst throaty cackles began chasing (literally) frightened couples, some of whom began running towards the park’s exit. The host’s self-righteous comments, along with those of her minions were cringe-worthy and cruel.

“Suney PLEASE!” one of the show’s team members cried out to a fast-escaping victim, “Aap ka naam! Aap ka naam! Waldain ko dhoka maat dein!” (Translation: “Listen, PLEASE! Your name! Your name! Don’t hoodwink your parents!”)

With jerky camera movements (given that the poor sod of a cameraman was trying his best to keep up with the mad women), at one point, after chasing off a young couple, one of the women from the team yelled out: “We found a SHOEEEE!”

The absurdity of it all. If I were there, I would’ve picked up the darned shoe and whacked the dumb bird across her face silly.

Popular Pakistani blogger, Mehreen Kasana states in her fantastic blog post, ‘An Open Letter to Maya Khan:’

“Young people fall in love all the time. Sometimes they don’t – it’s just infatuation. Sometimes they do and they’re confused as hell and they still go out to understand the significance of the other. In the process, they pick a location like normal people do where they can sit down and spend time together. I’m sure you liked someone when you were in college. No big deal. See, girls fall in love pretty much every single day of the week and so do boys. Sometimes they make the right decision, sometimes they make mistakes. It’s called being human. But trust me, they don’t need a team of middle aged women hounding them down in public places to enlighten them about their decisions. And trust me, their mothers will handle whatever happens. No one asked you or anyone else to take the responsibility of scrutinizing them. See, what worries me a lot is when public figures like you with considerable influence on viewers morph into moral police. In a country like Pakistan where public vigilantism has exceeded levels of brutality, the last thing the youth needs is a team of moral watchdogs sniffing around for ‘impure’ behavior.”

While there are a number of Khan’s episodes uploaded on her show’s Youtube channel, I have absolutely no desire to watch them after viewing this particular episode.

Because personally, Khan has no credibility as a journalist, given the subject matter of her show’s episode, given how she allowed her team to harass and embarrass unwary people in a park, and given how she approached a couple in the park – coaxing them to talk – on the pretext that her microphone was off and that her cameraman wasn’t filming them. Pretty disgusting. Zero integrity as a journalist, Khan.

Mid-way during the video when the host and her minions sat down on one of the benches to catch their breath, a particular self-righteous hijabi (FYI: no disrespect to hijabis!) launched into a tirade – dripping with virtuousness – about how immoral it was for one of the men at the park to bring his fiancée to the park, and that if the couple really were engaged, then they ought to be meeting at each other’s houses and not in a (gasp) park! Of all places. A park. Yes, hijabi, as if the poor couple was dry humping in broad daylight in Bin Qasim Park. Impious, darling, I feel you. Scarred much?

In the comments section, a Youtube viewer rightly points out:

“In a country where extremism is on the rise, millions and millions of children are being sexually abused, there is rampant corruption, poverty, pollution, diseases and scores and scores of other problems…a country can ill-afford the likes of Maya and her self-righteous holier-than-thou attitude and yellow journalism. The last thing this country needs is aunties of the ghairat brigade.”

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