Aisam and Faha’s separation carnival: The blame lies with us

Published: July 16, 2012

At what point does someone become famous enough, that we feel entitled to an unrestricted access to their personal lives? PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Pakistani tennis star Aisamul  Haq Qureshi and his wife Faha Akmal Makhdum decide to separate having failed to develop an understanding between each other over the course of their eight-month marriage.

First thought: Aisam, the tennis dude, loves milk (no pun intended).

Second thought: Eight months! Who the hell walks away from a marriage in just eight months and that too in Pakistan?

Third thought: Something scandalous must have happened. Must find out what.

I felt pretty ashamed at my personal train of thought when I first heard of Aisam and Faha’s separation, but once I went online to see what the media coverage was like; well, let’s just say I felt like I was cruising on a moral high ground that Jinnah would definitely have been proud off.

The Pakistani news media is accused of many things; poor standards, terrible reporting, poor grasp of the concept of what breaking news actually means, its inability to properly edit blogs, but a superfluous amount of sensitivity isn’t one of these things.

The breakdown of any marriage is a sad event. Most people would agree that it is very personal, and something that should remain between the parties involved, free of any salacious speculation. However, it doesn’t help matters when instead of merely reporting the event or simply ignoring it, the media decides to make a carnival out of it, rendering it preposterous with sound effects that dramatise every little thing and headlines like “Aisam aur Faha ki jori nakam!” (Aisam and Faha fail as a couple).

The goal here appears to be ‘strive to extract as much perverse pleasure from the event by maximising tabloid value’; anything that attracts viewership like locusts is fair game. As long as it doesn’t peeve the good people at Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) ofcourse.

One wonders if the middle management of news organisations were ever accorded the same lack of privacy, and their own personal lives were analysed with the same microscopic precision, would they be so cavalier? How would they feel if their personal tragedies were reported with the same level of glee? It’s easy to say that celebrities themselves encourage the media’s attention, but it isn’t quite that simple. Really, it isn’t.

Do all sports stars, models, actors or anyone granted some minuscule vestige of celebrity status automatically forgo their right to personal privacy? Must their highs and lows be recorded, analysed and disseminated to the teeming masses at a pace that would put Aisam’s serves to shame? Isn’t there any point, any at all, where we just gracefully butt out of their lives?

At what point does someone become famous enough, that we feel entitled to an unrestricted access to their personal lives?

I am sure that none of us, baring those who are attention hungry, would enjoy such intrusion in our private lives. After all, no one wants to beat their own drum about their divorce, break-up or whatever else they are going through.

Having said all that, one of the things that struck me about the “breaking news” reports, was the impressive amount of footage available on Aisam and Faha’s nuptials from the previous year. If celebrities (aspiring or otherwise) gladly grant the media access to their most intimate moments/spectacles, can or to be piercingly honest, should one really feel any real sympathy for them? Did their dreams of becoming famous hold too true?

At some level, it is we, the consumers of media news that are to blame for this sudden uprise of the gossip girl element of papparazi’ing our idol’s personal lives. Whether we prefer to admit it or not, we enjoy hearing all the feisty details of their lives, and the more dramatic the better. By our readership and following, we encourage our news outlets to provide us with the kind of news that awakens our mind on those one sleepy mornings in a way that a perfect cup of chai just fails to do.

Let’s face it, we’ll all be talking about the Aisam-Faha separation around the water cooler today, and we’re not better people for it.

Do Aisam and Faha as human beings deserve the amount of attention the disintegration of their marriage is getting, absolutely not. But we can’t just lay the blame on the media to make ourselves feel better. They just did their job, perhaps too well for our own comfort.

Do you think media coverage of Aisam's separation was unethical?

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Read more by Murtaza here or follow him on Twitter @ManMadeMovement


Murtaza Ali Jafri

A Karachi based banker who writes cultural satire

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Zaza

    I have done my Masters in Mass Communication and at Masters level we had a course titled ‘Media Laws’ which taught us things like defamation, slander, libel etc. so one thing that I’d like to point out here is Aisam’s father’s statement “that this news is false” this does not make any sense to me. Had it been false then there would have been statements like “I am going to sue the xyz channel….since there is no truth” or “this is a defamation case etc.” but nothing of that sort crossed our eyes/ears.

    Moreover, I know the tennis star’s family personally. He is my cousins cousin and one thing is for sure that this is one attention hungry family who are always craving for media’s attention which successfully portrays them as Pakistan’s first family like we have the Bachans as Bollywoods first family.

    Geo News had clearly written “source:family” Recommend

  • Sane

    people who make them public will have to face situation like this. Their marriage was a breaking news and the ceremonies were aired on media. That was enjoyable for both and their families. Then definitely their separation with all speculative aspects would also be in public. However, media still need to know as what BREAKING NEWS is. Even downpour in any city is a Breaking News in electronic media.


  • Disgusted

    People complain about gossipy aunties and obnoxious neighbours who like to churn the rumor mill and scrtuinise each and every piece of gossip, but the way I have seen some of our leading twitterati and news outlets behave yesterday including some of the most educated and sophisticated media personalities I have realised they are no better. Shame on their cheap tacky behaviour, making a hoohaa out of what is essentially a private unconfirmed affair. Do those who are whipping up such a gossip storm have the guts to undergo the same kind of scrutiny? If so than tweet away.Recommend

  • Rana

    Expectations, requirement, obligations:

    Women domain: Love, security, attention, loyalty & respect
    Men domain: Respect, love, loyalty & attention


    Women domain: Love, security & respect
    Med domain: Love, attention & respect

    No compromises and point of separation:

    Women domain: Loyalty & Attention
    Men domain: Loyalty

    Bottom line: please be loyal and pay due attention, before entering into the phase of no reconciliation.Recommend

  • SS

    I think the fact that we don’t have a separate ‘entertainment’ news channel means that our ‘regular’ news channels get to cover gossip and the like. The entertainment industry greatly thrives on gossip regarding celebrities and this is not a Pakistani phenomenon – the news channels are only responding to the demand for gossip, our demand. The ‘news industry’ is relatively new in Pakistan and will learn over time. We as an audience will mature over time (some of us at least), and celebrity gossip may not interest us as much.
    The talk around the water coolers (at my office) today was more about how the media covered the rumored divorce rather than the reasons for it. If that’s the case elsewhere, perhaps we are already on the path to greater sensibility. Recommend

  • THE

    Aisam or whoever was responsible for his wedding arrangements, made his wedding a media circus. I remmember all the “live coverages” of his wedding and really hated it at the time. I am really enjoying the “live coverage” of his divorce proceedings now just because people who are attention seekers should get a message now, that if you invite the media into a life event as important as your wedding then be ready for the media to be present at all the other life events that you have!! The only other wedding that I can remember the media giving live coverage to was Malik’s wedding with Sania and I am sure we would be the first ones to hear of their breakup as well.
    Did anyone hear anything on the same scale of other sports players life events? Did we get live coverage of Afridi’s wedding? oh no we didn’t !!
    Think about the results of your attention addiction. That’s the moral of the story.Recommend

  • salman

    I wonder when Aisam would be in news for winnning wimbledonRecommend

  • kanwal

    thats very unfair. We live in the age of probably the best tennis players ever. He is working hard. Win or loose, he is our hero. Recommend

  • AR

    These are real people, going through a painful time. Leave them alone.
    Imagine yourself, your child or your brother/sister going through this ordeal and have some compassion.Recommend

  • Amna Kausar

    Haha, ‘Aisam loves milk’.

    Very well-said! Recommend

  • Naila

    Aisam im single!!!!!!! :DRecommend

  • Murtaza

    Aisam is not capable enough to win wimbeledon. Moreover, he is in age of 30s and ranking approximately among 200, if he could not get in top 100 by age 30, you expect him to get in top 30 to qualify for wimbledon :D

  • Ch Allah Daad

    When celebrities use media for their projection and involve us (the consumers) in their lives, we have every right to find the truth. It does not remian a personal matter. Faha gave a reason for her divorce and once again trying to fool us. The reason she told us that Aisam did not give enough time is not true. During eight brief months, she spent first two months with him in Lahore and rest of the time he often visited her in England. So, this reason is a lie. Faha started giving us the reasons, therefore she must tell us the truth. This will help other innocent girls looking for Aisam.Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    Aisam’s family allowed media to cover wedding ceremony. Now we shouldn’t hue and cry if media makes sensational news out of what-ever-happened-b/w- the-couple. Why they part ways, I believe its due to the cultural difference since there’s hell of a difference between life style of Lahore and London. Recommend

  • danish

    Hahaha…aisam wht happenad with you?Recommend

  • Marium

    Well written Jafri…If only our media had ethicsRecommend

  • Hasan

    I agree, someone’s misery was portrayed in a pathetic way. I wonder how the poor man must be feeling IF he was watching the news. Ironic is the fact that Geo is ‘taking the leap’ in making the ‘code of conduct’ (GEO ASOOL) and spreading it across the country. Hypocrites.Recommend

  • saeed

    kind surprise , No one blaming Zardari or government . Recommend

  • Wanderer

    One should not sympathize so much with the victim as far as media coverage or publicity stunt is concerned.. all this happens when there is a consent available from “publicized” party.
    Yes, divorce is not a ceremonious event but these days everybody encash their activity through a much freedom provided media, and every body knows that is a trend we are following from the west.
    Their reality shows and celebrities real life are covered in much similar way and above all since Aisam and his family is not having any problem over the publicity why you people are getting all riled up? Recommend

  • asghar binibrahim

    Rana’s experience is really appreciable:

    Expectations, requirement, obligations:
    Women domain: Love, security, attention, loyalty & respect
    Men domain: Respect, love, loyalty & attention
    Women domain: Love, security & respect
    Med domain: Love, attention & respect
    No compromises and point of separation:
    Women domain: Loyalty & Attention
    Men domain: Loyalty

    Bottom line: please be loyal and pay due attention, before entering into the phase of no reconciliation.

    Here I can draw the attention of my daughter-like FAHA to be very very religious minded just to safe yourself from being the rightful owner of the Fire (Hell). Be alarmed that Satan ever tries his utmost to draw a separation-line between two most loving couple. I am fully confident that you both love each other so much, and that is why Satan is using his the most blunt weapon of ‘non-confidence’ to achieve his destined goal. Please be patient a little more and you will see Asaimul Haq in you lap soon ‘Insha Allah’. You are always in my prayers.Recommend

  • asghar binibrahim

    I second the experience of Rana above.

    Faha! Your anxiety shows that you love Asaimul Haq so much, and eight months long period of his being away from you is not tolerable. In fact, Satan has picked up this point of ‘eight months separation’ and is trying his utmost to get you both separated using his the blunt-most weapon of ‘non-confidence’ merged in you for Asaimul Haq. Please give defeat to Satan and be patient a little more and you will see your ‘love’ in your lap soon. You are always in my prayer – baiti Faha – only a little more.Recommend

  • sajid

    I read on the news that Faha was communicating with the media through FB. So I was curious and checked out her Fb page. Whoever runs that page can barely write english properly which is surprising for someone who spent their entire life in Europe. And through a little use of grey matter you could tell that it was fake or at least very unreliable. Yet our media was using it as their primary news source.

    Though that’s not what annoyed me. What really irked me was how many people had commented giving Faha marriage advice.
    Comments like” Faha ji aisam ko mat chorain. Biwi to salon apnay shohar ka intizar karti hai.” Or ” Faha Divorced larki ko koi nahi pochta. Aisam ko mat choro.”

    How many farigh people are there in this country who just sit there randomly giving marriage counseling to someone they don’t know at all on facebook of all mediums. Seriously everyone in our country is so over obsessed with some one Else’s life not just the Aunties or uncle’s but everyone of us. Maybe if those hundreds of busy bodies instead of giving marriage counseling or finding appropriate hadiths relating to etiquette’s of marriage spent half of their time doing something productive we would be in a much better place right now Recommend

  • Masood

    I am just wandering when are we going to stop talking about celebs personal lives?Recommend

  • Ameer Mirza

    You are right. In my view, media is nothing to do with such issues like marriages. Its totally personal.

    Ameer Mirza

  • Sarah B. Haider

    What’s the big deal. Shadi, bachay, talaq are all part of life. (unless people consider these celebs their worshiping idol)Recommend

  • http://quark9999 Raheel

    Hi to all my friends. Firstly I was expecting this type of news when I saw Aisam marrying a British Pakistani girl. Born in Lahore, and lived in Model town and then spent many years in U.K for my studies I have a very detailed idea od british born pakistanis and traditional pakistanis born in pakistan mentality. Both mentalities are af far as two opposite corners of a river or even a sea.
    A pakistani husband can not see her british wife in a swim suit or enjoying in a bar with her offfice colleagues on saturday nights, no matter how open minded the husband is. Similarly a british born female does not want to live away from the freedom she enjoys in her life before marriage, for example, drinking, partying and friends.

    I am not talking about who is right or who is wrong I just want to say the a pakistani man, a normal decent, can not afford to see his wife going out with her male friends.

    I have also seen some successful marriages of british girls with pakistani boys but usually it will end up in divorce.


  • A.

    You are an idiot. Most British Muslims are actually very religious minded especially the ones that import spouses from Pakistan. They don’t drink or wear swim suits most of them at least.

    We were not a part of this marriage and we don’t know what happened so how can you say that Aisam was not deserved by Faha or Faha was a bad wife or vice versa. Only pass your judgement if you know what actually happened and in this case you don’t so stop making generalizations about British muslims. Recommend

  • Sabeen

    It is sad when a marriage falls apart. Sadder when it becomes a public spectacle. Yes, fame has its perils but I truly believe that no sane person no matter how famous or attention hungry wants to make their failed relationship available for public comment and speculation. Perhaps it is only fair that the couple be left alone to deal with what is already most likely a very uncomfortable mess.Recommend


    too much of aisam breakup storyRecommend

  • Fizza

    I think wedding have always been a social event. We invite all known people to our marriages, don’t we? But do we invite all these people on divorce. Allowing someone or inviting someone, even media, to your wedding ceremony don’t give them licence to get involved in the divorce. Just a thought. Apply it to you and you’ll get the answer.Recommend

  • Omair

    Bro don’t take side of Western-Born Pakistanis. I’ve also faced such situation. In west either Pakistanis are too religious or too open minded, you rarely find one in the middle. I know the Pakistani girls especially the type of guys they like.Recommend

  • Dante

    The blame may lie with you but don’t drag me into it. I don’t watch TV so I’m not a consumer of media.Recommend

  • Asad


    A marriage invites people to gather and share the happiness. A separation does not…Recommend

  • Naureen

    Hmmmmm interesting .. Keep going ppl getting to read a healthy argument after reading all the indo-pak comments on u tube that’s besides the point .. Welll I haven’t really followed their story so closely the question remains is the divorce thing all true… Wudnt it b wrong to say where there is smoke there is fire indeed.Recommend

  • Mohsin Bashir

    Overall Aisam is such a nice guy. Women do this to get cheap fame. He is the Hero of Pakistani nation. Recommend

  • http://expressribunal shaukat ai chughtai

    Why the ceremonies were aired? Does the Tennis Star was so important that the TV channels spent huge amount of money? In any case, if the marriage was unsuccessful, media had no right to defame the bride. We all must condemn role of media in this regard.Recommend

  • SS

    We must banned Dual Nationality,it has been a curse for Pakistan.Recommend

  • amna

    if media is intruding in their personal life then they should not allow media to cover their marriage cerimony too.they publicized everything themselves .if they want to keep every thing personal and private then they should nt talk about their perosonal lives on media….Recommend

  • Umer

    cant find Bina Shah on twitter? Where is she?Recommend

  • James Simpson

    very Good post Thank you!Recommend

  • a.ahad


    what the hell reason was???????? damn aisam ……………………….i hate him……… why he married with faha if he cant continue it ……..


  • Sara

    Why dont pakistani media spends sometime on something productive?I wonder why dont they air they some programs which could benefit the young genration who instead of wasting their time by watching and discussing others lives should concentrate om their future.Recommend