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Ahsan Khan during an interview at the Holiday Inn Al Barsha, Dubai. Image Credit: Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News Archives

Pakistani actor Ahsan Khan has hopped into controversy due to the use of live rabbits for a segment on his TV show.

Express Entertainment, which airs the talk show ‘Time Out with Ahsan Khan’, has been fined Rs500,000 (Dh11,980) by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for using animals as props for the purposes of entertainment, according to reports.

Lawyer Faizullah Khan Niazi, who filed the petition on behalf of Santia Gulzar, posted a tweet with images of the Pemra order saying: “PEMRA saw fit to accept my arguments and impose a fine on Express Entertainment in its show Time Out with Ahsan Khan. The CoC [Council of Complaints] upheld the rights of animals and stopped unnecessary pain and suffering being caused to them.”

According to the order, the “format of the segment involves a series of questions and answers with known celebrities as guests, and, whoever fails to answer properly, is required to hold an animal or at times required to pile several animals such as petrified rabbits/pigeons etc on their laps as a punishment, causing distress not only to [the] animal but to the guests at times as well.”

“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,” Pemra’s order went on to read.

In an episode posted on Express Entertainment’s YouTube channel in March, actress Maya Ali can be seen cringing and laughing as a rabbit is placed on lap after she failed to answer a question correctly. The over one hour episode has more than 370,000 views. Other Pakistani celebrities who have been guests on the show — and gotten the rabbit treatment — include actors Humayun Saeed and Fahad Mustafa. However, not all episodes feature furry friends as far as we can tell.

London-born Ahsan Khan, 39, began acting at 17 and has gone on to star in TV and movie projects such as ‘Qayamat’ and ‘Chupan Chupai’.