Pakistan TV show gives away abandoned babies (VIDEO)


Pakistani couple Riazuddin (R) and his and wife Tanzeem laugh as they hold their adopted daughter Fatima at The Chhipa Welfare Association in Karachi on Aug. 1, 2013.


Asif Hassan

Pakistan's Riaz Udden and his wife Tanzeem received their infant daughter Fatima in a bizarre and controversial manner - on a television show watched by millions. 

The show's popular host, Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain, normally gives away the usual trinkets - bikes, phones, and so on - but on Wednesday he awarded the childless couple of 14 years a baby girl who had been abandoned in Karachi. 

"When the baby came into my arms on the show," Udden told the BBC, "it felt like another soul had entered my body, like an angel came. She has brought us so much peace. She means more to me than my own soul."

But while Fatima's parents are delighted at the addition to their family, the show, called Aman Ramazan, and its host are not without their critics, some who claim the adoption was a stunt to increase ratings, suggesting the spectacle was all about money. 

"If we didn't find this baby, a cat or a dog would have eaten it," Hussain said on TV.

His statement, while dramatic, is true in a way. According to the Edhi Foundation, a Pakistan welfare center, thousands of babies have been abandoned in Pakistan's streets.

The infants on television were rescued by the Chhipa Welfare Association, an nonprofit aid group in Pakistan that says all parents who received children had been vetted.

Hussain also claimed his show had no need of a ratings boost. "We were already top of the ratings before we gave away a baby," he added.

On his website the doctor describes himself as "truly a legend of this modern age. A man of many qualities, prominent scholar who possesses a pleasing disposition, veteran journalist whose name becomes synonymous with truthfulness and bravery in the field of journalism." 

However, according to Reuters, Hussain's university degree is a fake, and in 2007 he was forced to leave his position as junior minister of religious affairs after he said author Salman Rushdie had committed blasphemy, a crime in Pakistan punishable by death. 

And still, the show goes on. Another baby is expected to be given away soon. 

Watch part of the baby give-away here: