The Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has slapped a fine of Rs 500,000 to Express Entertainment’s celebrity talk show Time Out with Ahsan Khan for using animals as props.

Lawyer Faizullah Khan Niazi, who filed a “self-explanatory” complaint before the regulatory body on behalf of Santia Gulzar against the TV channel and show announced PEMRA’s decision on social media and shared a copy of the order.

“PEMRA saw fit to accept my arguments and impose a fine on Express Entertainment for using animals as props for the purposes of entertainment in its show Time Out with Ahsan Khan,” wrote Niazi on Twitter.


“The Council of Complaints (CoC) [in it’s 106th meeting] upheld the rights of animals and stopped unnecessary pain and suffering being caused to them,” added the lawyer.

“The Council after hearing the matter was of the considered view that the treatment towards animals in this specific show caused unnecessary pain and suffering to the animals used as props in the show. Subjugating animals to such uncalled-for treatment is clearly prohibited under Article 4 and Article 9 of the Constitution of Pakistan,” read PEMRA’s order.

Abuzar Khan Niazi, who is a Managing Partner at Lahore-based Crown Law Chambers also shared the judgment on social media, saying that the “treatment metted out to rabbits has been declared illegal and unconstitutional”.

Chairperson Child Protection and Welfare Bureau Punjab and a Spokesperson of the Punjab Government Sarah Ahmad hailed the decision, calling it a “landmark judgement on animal rights”.

Earlier in March, Crown Chambers had filed a complaint before PEMRA against Express Entertainment and the show for using animals as props.

“The captioned TV show has broadcasted insensitive and reckless content committing negligence and cruelty towards animals by subjecting them to unnecessary suffering and thereby, also mentally disturbing the general public at large,” the complaint had read.

For one of its segments, Time Out with Ahsan Khan used rabbits as props. The segment features a series of multiple-choice questions and if the celebrity answers a question incorrectly, a rabbit is placed on their lap. While some may see this as a harmless act, celebrities like Maya Ali were seen screaming out of fear. The complainant felt that this causes distress to the animal and accounts as animal cruelty.

Meanwhile, Ahsan Khan while speaking exclusively to The Current responded to the controversy, saying: “Let me clarify. These rabbits are basically pets and the person who owns them brings them to the set. When they are on set, we make sure that they are well-fed and taken care of and are not facing any issues. They are not uncomfortable at all. The person whose pets they are keeps them indoors and they are very easy to play with.”

Araam say haathon main aa jaatay hain,” explained Khan.

The actor then said that being a pet lover he is very careful with the animals on set and cares for them.

“I myself am a pet lover,” said Ahsan. “I have dogs at home. I have cats. I also have parrots and hens and they are all like my own children. We try to provide them with comfortable environments. So naturally, we are very careful with the animals – all of us on set.”

He further said that after the show invited backlash for “using animals as props,” he and his producer decided to avoid it.

“My producer and I thought that if this is hurting people and they are not liking it, then we can avoid it. So we have cut out the segment in the last three to four episodes we’ve recorded,” stated Ahsan, clarifying that the ones which included the animals were shot before.

“Although this segment is one of my favourites because this is the only one in which we discuss general knowledge, which not only educates my guests but also those who are watching the show. Whoever gives a wrong answer has to hold the pet in their lap,” he shared. It is pertinent to add here that the male guests usually enjoy petting the animals but the female guests are scared of them and often jump around screaming when asked to hold them.

“We on our end have been very careful with handling them, but if some people don’t like it then we, including my producers and all can apologise to them,” concluded Khan. “It’s a mutual thing. If something is not right, we should look into it.”