A political debate on a Pakistani news channel took an ugly turn when leaders from opposing parties engaged in a physical altercation on live television. The incident occurred during a talk show on Express News featuring guests from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Argument Takes A Violent Turn
According to reports, the two leaders involved were PTI lawyer Sher Afzal Khan Marwat and PML-N senator Afnan Ullah Khan. During the show, tensions rose as the leaders traded accusations about the alleged wrongdoings of their respective party heads. The argument soon turned personal with both men hurling insults at each other’s families.
At one point, Marwat abruptly stood up and slapped Khan on the head. This seemed to unleash chaos, with Khan immediately retaliating. Video footage shows the PML-N senator wrestling Marwat to the ground behind the desk, out of view of the camera. For several moments, kicks and blows can be heard amidst the anchors’ pleas to stop the violence. Crew members rushed to intervene and eventually separated the brawling leaders.
PTI lawyer Sher Afzal Marwat and PML-N Senator Afnanullah Khan exchange blows on live TV in Pakistan; video goes viral
— WION (@WIONews) September 28, 2023
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Leaders Defend Their Actions
Following the outrageous incident, both men took to social media to defend themselves. Senator Khan stated he believes in non-violence but as a loyal party member, he felt compelled to retaliate. Meanwhile, Marwat accused the TV channel of hiding the full footage that prompted his assault and called for the complete video to be released.
مروت نے کل ٹاک شو میں مجھ پر حملہ کیا، میں عدم تشدد پر یقین رکھتا ہوں مگر میں نواز شریف کا سپاہی ہوں۔ جو پھینٹا مروت کو لگایا ہے یہ تمام پی ٹی آئی اور بالخصوص عمران خان کے لیے ایک اہم سبق ہے، کہیں شکل دیکھانے کے قابل نہیں رہیں گے، بڑی بڑی کالی عینکیں لگانی پڑیں گی۔😁 pic.twitter.com/si4jvyboeJ
— Senator Dr. Afnan Ullah Khan (@afnanullahkh) September 28, 2023
The video clip instantly went viral, sparking reactions from netizens. Many were shocked by the level of aggression displayed between elected leaders on live TV. Some found humor in the situation, creating memes about the “debate” style in South Asian politics. Others called for more civility in political discourse.
Questionable Political Culture
Unfortunately, this is not the first time government representatives have engaged in violence on Pakistani television. Physical fights and abusive language have become commonplace during heated debates. Critics have denounced this erosion of decorum and lack of discipline among political elites. They say such behavior normalization sets a poor precedent in the country’s fragile democracy.
The recent incident has intensified scrutiny on the need for greater restraint and improved standards from political opinion makers. There are concerns the repeated broadcasting of such scenes promotes disrespectful conduct as acceptable. Experts emphasize non-violence and emphasize that differences of opinion must be resolved through thoughtful dialogue, not brute force.
Role of Media
The media also faces criticism for fueling sensationalism under the guise of neutral reporting. Channels have been accused of chasing ratings over responsible journalism by pitting guests against each other. Some argue provocative hosts who stoke tensions between panelists should be sanctioned.
There are growing calls for stronger oversight and a code of ethics for current affairs programs. The focus should shift from theatrics to substantive, solution-oriented discussion on matters of national interest. Quality discourse on policy issues would better serve citizens than turning talk shows into literal punching grounds.
Going forward, the hope is both politicians and news media take the higher road. Progress depends on leaders debating ideas with wisdom and journalists upholding standards instead of stirring conflict. Pakistan’s future is shaped by those in positions of influence. The nation can only prosper if they exemplify the change they wish to see.