The Trouble with NFP
Nadeem Farooq Paracha, or NFP as he seems to be known more commonly, is an ex-student activist, ex-music journalist, present liberal commentator who writes for Dawn. His pieces are ideologically democratic, secular, and leftist and in a nation generally devoid of liberal discourse, his is one of the louder voices.
I ideologically agree with NFP. Pakistan ought to be a liberal, secular democracy that protects the rights of all citizens and refrains from meddling in the affairs of neighbours for her own short-term gains. However, the more I read his work, the more I find that dude’s got issues.
His latest piece has him calling a Principal of some Islamic Montessori and castigating her for her narrow-minded view on her school’s admission criteria. NFP often reverts to this “conversation” focused style of writing, where some right winger is taught what’s what by his never ending wit. Sometimes he’s arguing with some kid who decided to tell him he hates him, or a roadside vendor, or a co-worker, or a friend. In short, it seems anyone who comes in contact with him ends up getting an ear-load of Liberal Anger ©.
Whenever one of these articles show up I can’t help but imagine two guys standing on the side of the street, one of them shouting himself hoarse claiming Zaid Hamid to be the second coming, and NFP standing next to him smugly smoking a cigarette and blowing smoke willy nilly. While the kid nears dangerous levels of dehydration-via-spittle, NFP probably scoffs a whole bunch and tells him about how Zia destroyed everything and that the kid is probably another urban-middle class-youth who doesn’t know any better.
And THAT is where the problem lies. NFP approaches his pieces with a smug superiority of believing he’s always correct. He isn’t telling us what’s right with his view-point, just what’s wrong with the one adopted by the right wingers. No one wants to be told that they’re wrong – and as long as you keep doing that from a perch of self-assured ex-liberal student activist satisfaction you’re not going to be able to get through to them.
NFP talks at his audience, instead of to his audience, and I’ve got to imagine that that alienates the same urban, middle-class, youth that he’s trying to wean away from the likes of Zaid Hamid. On the flip side, Zaid Hamid (loathsome as he may be) speaks to his audience, involving them in his plan of a falsified Greater Pakistan, and making them believe that his side is the one that is best for them in the long run.
So, NFP, I like you. I really do. But, please, connect with the audience. If some Auntie continues to castigate me for not praying and condemning me to eternal hellfire, I’m really not going to listen to her drivel. On the other hand if she tells me that the jumping jacks involved in our prayer will help me lose some weight, I might just actually listen a little bit.
So come on dude, you have access to a fairly large audience, convince them that our side is best for them. Not that they’re dumbasses.