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Smokers’ Corner: Groovy patriots


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This just has to be the ‘preachiest’ generation of young Pakistanis ever. On TV, in social media and even in drawing rooms, young Pakistanis are proudly out in numbers advocating ‘positive thinking’ to the cynics, calmly ignoring the fact that a cynic may just be a sceptic (like most rational human beings).

But, you see, rationalism is bad because it may amount to one repressing his or her emotions.

A very unhealthy thing to do. It can turn a person, not only into a cynic, but, horror of horrors, unpatriotic, which, in Pakistan’s case, can then lead him to become an agnostic, or, God forbid, an atheist.

In which case positive thinking must dictate affirmative action: Kill the fools.

Of course, you must understand that this logic is usually and entirely based on assumptions.

Positive thinking demands it. After all, investigating the facts behind the assumptions can be a time-wasting exercise that makes Jack, Jimmy or Junaid a very dull, introverted boy on his way to becoming a cynic and (thus) a positive case for elimination.

The let’s-be-positive crowd is a weird lot. Not that I’m all that normal, but they’re weirder, even though they might not look it.

Brought up on those amazingly unhinged tales of sword and sorcery (‘Pakistan Studies’) at school, they then plunge into those ‘building self-esteem’/self-improvement' seminars and books that are basically the corporate yuppie strain of that New Age nonsense about personal aura, positive vibes, et al.

Nevertheless, the swords-sorcery-meets-let’s-be-positive-generation will shower you with great admiration if you unthinkingly and animatedly nod to whatever positivism is trending on Twitter or Facebook. No, you’re not a sheep but … okay, you are a sheep but, like, so what? Right? Right.

They will shower you with love if you agree with their positivism. Especially if the positivism is about being positive in one’s condemnation of what is not positive. Such as the oh-so-arrogant display of individualism.

Don’t you hate such so-called individualistic displays of negative thinking and arrogance? Always trying to look and sound different. Always trying to tell us that suicide bombers kill more people in Pakistan than drone attacks. And that accountability against corrupt people should not only include politicians, but military men and the judiciary too. And that Tariq Ali has started to sound like a man who got out of the jungle after decades thinking that the Vietnam War was still on. Or that the TTP were a 21st Century reincarnation of the Viet Cong.

One is ‘paid’ (by a ‘foreign hand’) if he disagrees with the positivists and patriotic if he agrees. This swords-and-sorcery-meets-let’s-be positive-generation leapfrog’s from Mohammad Bin Qasim to the ‘be positive’ corporate guru of the month in a matter of a single sentence.

Take for instance how many of them responded to the UK court’s verdict on the three Pakistani spot-fixing cricketers. In 2010 when the spot-fixing scandal broke, positive thinking dictated that the cricketers must be supported because both international and local (negative) forces were most probably behind this event as well.

And thanks to many of our positive media personnel it seemed that for a while, Salman Butt, Muhammad Amir and Muhammad Asif, were about to become the male equivalents of Aafia Siddiqui (remember her of the ‘I shot the sheriff’ fame?).

But, alas, a little more than a year later when the three were proven guilty in court and sent to prison, all hell broke lose.

No, there were no rallies against the ruling or condemnation of the verdict. Instead, people began burning the three cricketers’ effigies, cursing them for disgracing the country’s name.

So the negative old me decided to tweet a question: How come there are stones and curses for a spot-fixer but rallies and rose petals for certain pious killers? Remember Mumtaz Qadri?

As the positivists came rushing in (on Twitter) to condemn my negative question, I kept on wondering how come so many Pakistanis and the media are ready to pour out and passionately demand that certain corrupt cricketers or politicians be lynched, but then the same people shower praises on self-appointed defenders of the faith who commit murder? And how the positivists look the other way when some other self-appointees in this respect go about their business of blowing up mosques, shrines, schools and markets?

But, then, I understood. Why disturb one’s healthy positive aura and vibe with awkward questions. Why complicate things. I mean, all this might lead to negative thinking thus cynicism, thus unpatriotic thoughts and perhaps even atheism, no?

One should be positive. Especially about his country, its nuclear arsenal and especially the fact that we are ready to eat grass for our precious bomb. Or rather, the poor are ready to eat grass for it. An entirely positive thing to do.

So it is our duty to sympathise with the poor grass eaters and hang a few politicians, eliminate a few cricketers, censure a few journalists and make peace with extremists so as to at least keep the price of grass affordable for the masses who, inshaallah, will one day vote in hoards for a Mr Positive par excellence in the next election. It’s beside the point that positive thinking also dictates that democracy is a sham and only a modern-day caliphate is the answer to all our problems.

Ah, that felt good. Yea, man, check out my positive vibes. Like, groovy — in a Mohammad bin Qasim kind of a way, of course.

Comments (39) Closed

Haroon Jun 23, 2013 09:47am

I kept on wondering how come so many Pakistanis and the media are ready to pour out and passionately demand that certain corrupt cricketers or politicians be lynched, but then the same people shower praises on self-appointed defenders of the faith who commit murder? And how the positivists look the other way when some other self-appointees in this respect go about their business of blowing up mosques, shrines, schools and markets?

So true!

Mody Jun 23, 2013 11:00am

N.F.P., mate i am reading your master pieces since quite a while and i agree every bit of what you write in your columns ......i am surprised that Media trying to manipulate things in our Desiland aka Pakistan.... Please your attention required to write about this thing and also our Desi people karnamas in foreign countries..where they create the bad name of our Desiland..... our passport losing respect day by day and nobody is taking notice of that A very sad and disapointed Desi In Far East.....

Sry Jun 23, 2013 11:19am

I think Paracha sahib needs to reflect on where this generation came from; he frequently ridicules and criticizes young folks for being too conservative and bent towards religion, but fails to recognize that like all humans, we were raised by our parents/guardians, who belonged to NFP's generation!

He talks about cultural neurosis in Pakistan, implying that people have gone, basically, half-mad in this country. And if we, young people, are the pinnacle of this religious-cultural insanity, then NFP should look to do more than just 'blame the victim'. Why not analyse the faults of people precedng us, you know the ones who set the stage; but that would require self-criticism, a category where old leftists fail as miserably as Jamati's

Ali S Jun 23, 2013 11:19am

The answer to "why is there so much hate for disgraced cricketers / politicians but praise for murderers in the name of faith" lies in the question itself. The key word being "faith". Since at least two generations back, this nation has been systematically brainwashed into switching off its brain's critical thinking department whenever religion comes into play, because God forbid they accidentally question too much, get carried away by themselves, leave the folds of Islam, and become wajibul qatal (and just to be on the safe side, I also have to add that I'm a practicing Sunni Muslim - see what I mean?) Your last article brilliantly addressed this neurosis that has now seeped into our urban middle-class' mainstream thinking.

This kind of passivity naturally clears way for certain elements who manipulate this line of thought (ultra-right clerics and radicals) to steer the national discourse into a very dangerous direction. The social media positivism that you describe (and as a PTI voter I now realize that the whole 'Naya Pakistan' campaign was very much a part of that) is a counter-measure to this passivity, so the urban middle-class victims of this neurosis don't feel completely depressed and subdued.

Anwar.S Jun 23, 2013 11:53am

Thanks for addressing pertinent issues. Completely agree with you. Sadly dominant majority will overtake the few sane voices that are still around.

Nony Jun 23, 2013 12:27pm

we know a liberal leader who agreed to create a country on the basis of religion and did so, another after him who agreed to declare a minority sect as non muslim and did so and then we have my name is khan, and i am with taliban. all foreign educated with totally liberal outlook of their personal life but wanted to establish a truely religious country for rest of us.

Wasif Jun 23, 2013 01:36pm

Well, what can one say except we must pay our respects and pray for Zia - over and over. The decade of indoctrination has left us so numb that we are incapable of rational thinking. One cab guise our distasteful approach towards society and life in as many metaphors as NFP is capable of conjuring up on a weekly basis, but they are all founded in a fundamental problem of intolerance that was so meticulously and thoughtlessly engrained in our minds by the zia regime. Hopelessly, one sometimes has to wonder that it may take an entire generation who were born and raised in this 80's and 90's to loose influence over society and life for our national mindset to change. The generation of positive thinkers and lame duck excuse makers (your's truly included) has to be neutralized for any hope of positive change. As for the generation(s) before that; there is really no hope.

XL Jun 23, 2013 01:41pm

You can still blog in Pakistan, thats surely a positive! May your tribe increase. Best Wishes

Nadeem Ullah Jun 23, 2013 02:08pm

Well, sir, good article, well pointing out the quickly changing views of our people :-) But one thing, you did the same mistake of taking only one thing, in this article, to be causing the poor to eat grass: The atomic power. Is that really the reason of poverty here?

I think it (the atomic power) is cheaper than the amount of money the defaulters owe to the power companies, than the amount of money laundered by the politicians, than the amount of money the loan defaulters owe to our country, than the amount of money spent on constructing politicians' palaces (Raiwind palace, Bilawal houses, etc. etc.?), than the amount of money the rich owe to the country in the form of income tax,...and than the amount of money wasted in corruption of our politicians & bureaucracy.

Oh, am sorry, looks like I am not positive enough by saying this bitter reality !

Masood Jun 23, 2013 02:15pm

The Positives or the Negatives are different with every one. A person viewing positive for an issue but for the other person it might be Negative. Religion is always primary and will remain on top for a true Muslim and it is sensative matter hence if state doesn't control peoples who criticize the sensative issue or say against the religion then this type of things happens like Mumtaz Qadri case. Even myself having sympathy for himself compare to the person who has been killed by himself.

fida sayani Jun 23, 2013 02:43pm

My friend Mr. Paracha, Will appreciate if you give this article to the staff of DAWN for their reading, at-least this will help in publishing of my comments in the daily DAWN. I know most of my comments are outspoken but this is what Jinnah would have appreciated, if he was alive today.

Nauman Jun 23, 2013 02:48pm

In Pakistan, I find the two most positive 'pick-me-up' words used are:

"Inshallah", "Mashallah"

In board meetings, a 'positive' who is trying to bring across a point in an otherwise cynical and tense situation is calmed down "Sab kuch theek hai.......sab kuch theek hai... koi nahin, ghar ki baat hai"

And then there are cranks who would make you believe that in Pakistan they had never been asked to bribe anyone "Alhamdo-lillah". It only happens in India or Tehran.

Capt C M Khan Jun 23, 2013 02:50pm

NFP if you sow NEEM you cannot excpet to get RICE out of it. This Vibrant generation is different to their parents. From the past 30 years they have been barinwashed into beleiving THEY ARE CORRECT AND THE WHOLE WORL IS WRONG. After school text books they have been BOMBARDED with JAMAAT after JAMAAT. Now there is only SELECTIVE condeminations from them...never mind Pakistani Passport values goes down...never mind Pakistan becomes another Afghanista/Somalia...Hey these guys are very POSSITIVE ABOUT THAT FOR SURE.Sad.

khan Jun 23, 2013 03:21pm

Sir you are doing your job. I have no idea about social media, i have no twitter or face book like accounts. one question can a protest be arranged in pakistan by social media against TTP who are killing thousands of innocent people every year in pakistan (in mosques in grave yards in bazar every where)

Abbastoronto Jun 23, 2013 03:37pm

You can not talk yourself into progress.

The only way to start thinking positive is to get knowledge - of material and spiritual world. Islam is accepting reality and making the best of it. All Muslim rituals - universality, prayers, fasting, charity, hajj is about knowing reality around yourself and finding most rational solutions to it.

You are only as good as your God. Knowing the true god is the way to build positive thinking, not reading Dale Carnegie books about how to win friends and influence others. It is not helping America, and it will not help Pakistan.

Tas Jun 23, 2013 03:36pm

I must say that your articles are really thought provoking, extremely pertinent and daring for a country like Pakistan. Good luck,keep it up.

Tas Jun 23, 2013 03:36pm
Tas Jun 23, 2013 03:38pm
Ahmed Jun 23, 2013 04:16pm

hahahaha man that made my day, thanks NFP

sanjay mittal Jun 23, 2013 04:21pm

Well said! Crony patriotism is probably my term to define people who are willing to the muck by talking positive about their cronies!

Baber Khan Jun 23, 2013 05:37pm

The usual NFP ranting!

arvind Jun 23, 2013 05:44pm

@Abbastoronto: Sir,you are again giving those very positive vides, which NFP has ridiculed in this article.Were you also the one who found rationale in the heinous act of Salman Taseer's killer.I think you don't get the point.Its people like you who talk of a reality check & then go about giving vague & often cotradictory solutions.

Double Sorry Jun 23, 2013 06:11pm

@Sry: You think he will heed your advice and write about a solution instead of crying, well, you are not in surprise, because he won't. Wait for 4-5 days maximum and you'll see another article with the same tone and even paraphrasing from his pervious articles. It's been couple of years since NFP has been "creative" and churning out jaw-dropping, awesome, mind-boggling "different" articles.

And possibly this comment won't publish. Oh well. It doesn't matter either way.

Masood Hussain Jun 23, 2013 06:56pm

Your logic has spilled over the brim and too difficult to clean the floor.

Vikki Jun 23, 2013 06:57pm

@Abbastoronto: Toronto mein rehkar bhi Fundamentalist mentality..............aab-o-hawaa ka bhi koi farq future......

pathanoo Jun 23, 2013 07:06pm

It is a shame that a creative , clear thinker, courageous honest man with the highest integrity is not making policy decisions for Pakistan which would be lot better if it were. But, you are contributing immensely though the only unfortunate part is that you are missing the masses who can not or do not read English news. Excellent article as usual from one of the BEST OF PAKISTAN. KEEP WRITING, NFP.

George Jun 23, 2013 07:50pm

@Ali S: Sorry, Pakistanis are not the only people who is obsessed with their faith. In general, majority Muslims are obsessed, and paranoid with their religion.

ram pershad Jun 23, 2013 08:40pm

it is so nice article..............but i have observe and happening also in the society everyone is writing article,reading article but nobody is acting on it means are our leaders not aware of whatever happening in country ,why they are not taking any action against these issues................

Dearborn Iffy Jun 23, 2013 09:29pm


"You are only as good as your God" Sounds like Chaudary Shujat Hussain running out of ideas after PML-Q got a thrashing in the election.

pathanoo Jun 23, 2013 09:34pm

@Abbastoronto: Now that's a Good One. Nay, it is the GREATEST I ever heard......."You are only as good as your God." That takes the cake even for a convoluted, confused mind of your's, Dear Abastoronto. I know the books you have been reading......"Abul Ala Maddudi's." With a mind like your's what else could you be reading.

Tahir A Jun 23, 2013 09:49pm

@Nony @Capt C M Khan @Pathanoo

Thank you guys (assuming you are all guys - I have to be careful these days) for your lovely and constructive comments that have come across over the past months / years. I have enjoyed reading them and gaining something good too Jun 23, 2013 10:54pm

@George: Absoloutely true jay komertah Jun 23, 2013 10:53pm

Absoutely true

Ali S Jun 23, 2013 11:18pm


I've lived in Toronto for 6 years myself, and seeing you so often here on Dawn's comment sections with these kind of views has made me wonder: do you by any chance live in the Thornhill neighbourhood?

Trine Jun 23, 2013 11:28pm

@Abbastoronto: "You are only as good as your god." So true and the whole works is seeing the goodness of your god in the actions of your countrymen.

S Sharma Jun 24, 2013 12:49am

NFP .. your writing is fine - but What's wrong with Pakistan can be summed in two words .. Imran Khan

this mixedup jiglo has become a sage and a national "asset" not much different than hero worship of Indira Gandhi and her criminal progeny in India ...

Same people same disease -- Will the twain survie? India has bought time; Pakistan has lost time, almost all of it.

Nasiroski Jun 24, 2013 01:50am

@Masood: With all due respect, your faith is your personal matter, and state has no business in controlling individuals thoughts about "sensitive matters". Islam or any reasonable religion for that matter does not allow crushing of public/personal opinion on any matter including religion itself. If Islam is the best religion it is because Tolerance is one of it's top virtues as practised by Mohammed SA himself (sunnat books are full of them if you care to read).

Nasiroski Jun 24, 2013 02:07am

@Abbastoronto: Nice "positive" cliche' about Islamic rituals, just as hollow as the rest of statments you make, but unfortunately you have lost touch with reality due to your positivity. Unfortunately you don't even belong to the young generation but people like you have lot to do with leaving this generation astray.

Syed Jun 25, 2013 02:00pm

i may not be mr. positive but i would love to see some polticians being accounted for. Top of the list Mr. A. A . Z