Determined to boost ratings this Ramadan, a Pakistani TV talk show host has been giving away babies live on air, British daily The Guardian reported  on Thursday.
Aamir Liaquat Hussain, one of Pakistan’s most famous television personalities, gave two abandoned baby girls to couples without children last month and plans to give away an infant boy this week.
“If we didn’t find this baby, a cat or a dog would have eaten it,” Hussain said during one broadcast. His audience applauded as he handed over one of the baby girls to her new parents.
“I was really shocked at first. I couldn’t believe we were being given this baby girl,” Suriya Bilqees, a new mother of a two-week old, told CNN . “I was extremely happy.”
Hussain’s show, Aman Ramzan, focuses on religious and social issues. He usually gives away prizes like motorbikes, mobile phones and land deeds to audience members who answer questions about Islam.
But this Ramadan, with fierce competition for ratings, Hussain has presented two families with babies.
The abandoned babies were rescued by the Chhipa Welfare Association, a Pakistani aid organization.
Ramzan Chhipa, head of the organization, saw it as a positive move.
“In a day or two, the next baby will be given away, God willing,” he told Reuters on Thursday.
“Our team finds babies abandoned on the street, in garbage bins -- some of them dead, others mauled by animals. So why not ensure the baby is kept alive and gets a good home?
“We didn’t just give the baby away. We have our own vetting procedure. This couple was already registered with us and had four or five sessions with us,” he added.
However, paperwork was not processed before the show and as adoption is not legally recognized in Pakistan the new parents will still have to apply for guardianship, CNN reported.
As well as working with Chhipa to find abandoned newborns, Hussain is advertising for babies directly.
“If any family cannot afford to bring up their newborn baby due to poverty or illness then, instead of killing them, they should hand over the baby to Dr Aamir,” a notice on his website reads.
Hussain’s controversial gimmick seems to have paid off. The show has proved extremely popular, breaking ratings records and may be extended beyond its Ramadan run, CNN reported.