More than a host

Aamir Liaquat Hussain will be remembered for his ability to connect with the man on the street

More than a host


V host and politician Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain, who rose to eminence with his show, Aalim Online, in the early 2000s, left for his eternal abode on June 9.

Hussain was born on July 5, 1971, in Karachi’s Khudadad Colony to Shaikh Liaquat Hussain and Mehmooda Sultana. He had only one sibling, Imran Liaquat.

Hussain attended Liaquat Medical College, Jamshoro, and received his medical degree in 1995.

He did not have an easy childhood. His mother was jailed for political reasons and that left a mark on him. He did well at school and regularly participated in extracurricular activities, winning the Best Debator of Asia Award hosted by the International Youth Congress of the United Nations.

Hussain started his media career with radio. After a short stint at the PTV, he joined Geo in 2001.

His show Aalim Online became very popular and he quickly became a household name. He was also responsible for popularising Ramazan transmissions.

The doctor turned TV personality contested a National Assembly seat on a Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) ticket in 2002 and won. In 2004, he became the minister of religious affairs in the cabinet of then prime minister Shaukat Aziz.

In 2005, he urged the religious scholars to issue a fatwa against suicide bombings. He also introduced a bill that was passed.

The same year he lost his mother and that drove him into a shell for a while. In a bid to get himself back up, Hussain set up a welfare foundation in his mother’s name. The Mehmooda Sultana Foundation made several contributions to the welfare of the needy. From providing LPG to life-saving food assistance and monetary aid, the MSF supported several families through its Choolha Ghar initiative.

ALH resigned his NA seat in 2007, citing religio-political differences with the then policymakers. However, he remained in the public eye through his TV show. Hussain, at times, faced controversy because of the show. Most of his colleagues remember him as a team leader and a person who tried to mitigate problems, says Ali Imam.

ALH touched many lives in his brief years in this world. He was a resolute person and loved to be around people. He was a showman who knew his audience well.

“He held frequent meetings to settle the issues between religious parties and always remained composed. Perhaps he was putting up a brave face for all of us,” says Imam.

In 2009, ALH lost his father, the MQM deputy convener to dementia.

Hussain knew the secret to keeping the public glued to screens. Live Ramazan transmission (2010) was his idea. It broke the rating records of his previous shows. Subsequently, many channels followed suit.

Several privately-owned TV networks wanted Hussain to join them. He was a ratings magnet, after all. Wherever he went, he took his entire team along. When a TV channel refused to take his entire team aboard, ALH left the office and never returned.

Hussain used the platforms at his disposal to spread his ideas. He tried hard to reunite Geeta, a hearing-impaired young girl, with her family in India through his Ramazan transmission.

In 2015, he became the president of Geo Entertainment. Around the same time, I joined Geo as an associate producer and photographer. I found him a people person. He loved to talk to people and enjoyed cooking for friends and those close to him. His hot chocolate and fried chicken (Aamir fried chicken) were my favourite. He was a happy-go-lucky person who loved indulging in constructive consensus building and discussion.

Hussain joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in 2018, and was elected to the National Assembly as a PTI candidate from NA-245 in the 2018 general elections. On October 4, 2021, he resigned from his National Assembly seat and also left the PTI.

ALH touched many lives in his brief years in this world. He was a resolute person who loved to be around people. He was a showman who knew his audience well. He never wanted to be alone. The only time he preferred to be alone was when he was researching a topic. An eloquent speaker, he made many friends.

Over the last seven years, I saw him gain increasing popularity and suffer some losses. He had an eventful life that ended abruptly. Aamir Liaquat Hussain is survived by two children.

He will be remembered for his ability to connect with millions of people through his shows.

The writer is a TV producer and PR specialist. She has worked for various TV channels for 12 years. She tweets at @AsadGhania

More than a host