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Pakistan: Death On Reality Show

The death of a Pakistani reality show participant has been subjected to hot debate in the Pakistani Blogosphere. Saad khan was participating in a stunt, which was being shot in Bangkok, and that involved swimming through a lake while carrying 7kgs of weight. According to eyewitness accounts, Khan seemed to face difficulty and shouted for help before disappearing underwater.

The death was first reported on Twitter by a close friend and ex-colleague of khan which ensued a wave of reaction in many social networking sites. Farrukh, khan's friend, urged bloggers to unite and demand explanation regarding the accident that took the young man's life in a message on Twitter:

@Farrukh ahmed: 2 all bloggers: need your help in raising voice against a miserably organized game show arranged by Unilever which took the life of a good friend. Unilever is refusing to disclose the details / video footage of the event.

Later, an entry on Farrukh‘s blog unchained the details of the incident:

Apart from my personal account, Saad's death is becoming a closely guarded secret by the multinationals involved in the campaign of the show. Ironically, that has become the very reason of it being widespread internationally on blogs and social networking websites(…) with this post, I want to set some facts straight and publicize some questions that I'm sure would arise in your minds as well upon hearing the details of Saad's death.

Paksatire has come up with a satirical comic strip criticizing the role of mainstream media for not highlighting the case fairly. The message conveyed is that the mainstream media is allegedly under pressure from the corporate sector.

Satrical comic strip- criticizing lack of coverage of Khan's death, used with permission

Satrical comic strip- criticizing lack of coverage of Khan

Meanwhile the news of Saad's death slowly made its way to the mainstream media. Dawn reported the death along with explanations from Unilever, which did not accept any liability over Saad's death. In a guest post at All things Pakistan Sabeen Mehmud shares her personal experience of working with the corporate giant.

There was a lot of camaraderie and we got the opportunity to observe almost all the departments in action, practically as insiders.(..) The Corporation is a soulless machine, dedicated to the pursuit of profit. Vision statements, ethical guidelines, and corporate social responsibility programs are merely legal requirements that have no practical bearing on how companies do business.

Sabeen further elaborates on the issue of liability, making demands to bring the facts out to the open:

Having said that, I agree that the show that took Saad Khan’s life was in a completely controlled environment and the tragedy could have been avoided. It does indeed smell like a case of total negligence.

Dr. Awab Alvi at Teeth maestro has also posted a series of articles covering the accident, speculating negligence from the organizers end. In one of the recent posts he posted an interview with a co-participant, who claimed that the accident was avoidable and was caused by negligence of the organizers.

Max Robinson made comparisions between the reality TV shows all across the globe. He emphasizes the need for TV executives to bear responsibility in informing the participants regarding the risk factors involving particular stunts.

The circumstances surrounding Khan's death remain a mystery. As speculations rise nothing can be said for certain until any documentary evidence is produced. On my own blog I extended my concern on the various reality shows, that are frequently aired in Pakistan.

This incident also open doors to the world of freak reality shows in Pakistan where security measures are never considered. [..] The question now is regarding the creditability of these kinds of entertainment shows– least concerned about security measures – should we allow them to continue airing for the sake of entertainment and commercialism?

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