Pakistanis have no dearth of curse words to fling at each other at the best of times, but one of the most vitriolic terms in vogue today is the word ‘liberal’. The word is used by itself and in various combinations — liberal fascist, pseudo-liberal — in order to shame and silence an opposing point of view in heated debates about anything from Pakistani society and religion, to the formation of Pakistan and its ideology, to the war on terror. Yet, most people who do so, have no basic understanding of what liberalism really is, and in fact, are confusing it with other concepts in a way that is both ignorant and embarrassing to observe.
First of all, Pakistanis think of a ‘liberal’ as one who drinks, uses drugs, enjoins promiscuity and wears inappropriate clothing. But this is actually a ‘libertine’ — ‘a dissolute person, usually a person who is morally unrestrained’. The most famous libertine in history was probably the Marquis de Sade and while I doubt that anyone in Pakistan could match his debauched lifestyle, anyone who “spurns or ignores accepted morals and forms of behaviour sanctified by larger society” (from Wikipedia) is called a ‘liberal’ incorrectly.
A ‘liberal’ is not the same as a ‘libertarian’, someone who adheres to the political philosophy that individual conscience and individual choice is the highest of all principles. They are individualist, distrust state power, and idealise free market capitalism. This movement believes that all services should be privatised and that taxation is a form of theft. Pakistanis, out of whom only two per cent pay tax, seem to have perfected this tenet of libertarianism to a fine art, but our sense of individual conscience and choice is woefully underdeveloped by contrast.
So what is a liberal and what is liberalism, really? The dictionary states that liberalism is “a political orientation that favours social progress by reform and by changing laws rather than revolution”. The worldview of liberals is guided by the principles of liberty and equality in society and liberals generally espouse the concepts of constitutionalism, democracy, free and fair elections, equality between men and women, races and religions, human rights, state protection of minorities and the free exercise of religion.
Liberalism, born in the Age of Enlightenment, has been a powerful force for change in the world; both the American and French Revolutions were inspired by liberal philosophy, monarchies and dictatorships have been overthrown and replaced by democracies, and liberalism has challenged the ideologies of both fascism and communism. More recently, liberalism as a political movement has fired the revolutions of the Arab Spring, but Pakistanis deny and fight the historical impact of liberalism on our own political and historical heritage, when in fact the liberal concept of protecting liberty and individual rights was a major factor in the creation of Pakistan.
Now, the phrase ‘liberal fascist’, as empty as it is oxymoronic, a term that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, as the principles of liberalism — equality, justice, liberty — are completely at odds with the concept of fascism, which is a form of extremely authoritarian, intolerant right wing governance that takes away the civil rights of its citizens and uses force and violence to compel them into obedience. Perhaps a ‘liberal fascist’ is someone who wants to force their liberal viewpoint on those who disagree with them, but the very essence of liberalism is that it cannot be forced on anyone.
The other phrase, ‘pseudo-liberal’, is slightly less nonsensical than ‘liberal fascist’. In its current usage, Pakistanis use this term to mean a ‘fake’ liberal — someone who claims to be a liberal but in fact believes in and supports a less tolerant political ideology. What they probably really mean is someone who practices what has been termed ‘illiberal liberalism’ or ‘selective liberalism’. This means that a person holds double standards in their liberal worldview; for example, someone will espouse the right of Palestinians to have their own separate state, yet does not support the Kashmiris in the same aspiration.
The lesson to learn from this examination of the word ‘liberal’ and its Pakistani permutations is that Pakistanis are discussing political concepts without knowing what they really mean and conflating them illogically with social, religious, and moral ones. Instead of being proud of Pakistan’s struggle to espouse liberal values, we’ve turned the word ‘liberal’ into something to be ashamed of, and for a country whose intelligentsia claims to be so politically engaged, this is a disappointing and damaging path to tread.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ
@Zara: Yes, sounds amazing but true none the less. Its basically the self-righteous nature of left-wingers and right-wingers which is the culprit over here.
@ANA "i mean how many bombs have liberals exploded? how many people have they killed?" I completely agree with you. It's amazing how people compare liberals to right wing extremists/terrorists. They portray it like there's a vast majority of sane people in the middle and on both sides (left and right) there are crazy extremists who are destroying the country. This reminds me of a really funny satire I read sometime ago which imagines what it would be like if liberals were actually like right wing extremists. http://mintopark.com/2011/08/12/liberal_fascists/
@Tribal Insafian: Let me reply to what I see is a naive view of the situation in Pakistan. Liberals condemn operations against the Baloch because they see their demands as just and stemming from years of neglect. The Baloch want their resources and their rights. Liberals support operations against Talibans because they blow up innocent civilians and want to impose their ideologies on the whole country using religion. Baloch can be talked to, Talibans must be killed. It is clear that both Baloch and tribal civilians provide santuary to their rebels, but seeing that Baloch demands are justified, civilian support is understandable. Whereas tribal support of Taliban must end, and if it requires bombs, so be it.
@Editor: Mr Editor care to share us where Quaid e Azam prayed like Sunni? He prayed like Shia!
Are Western Liberal Democracies promoting the values of equality, justice and liberty in the form of Wars in Libya, Syria, Phalestine, Iraq, Iran and Afganistan?. and what about the liberal forces in the form of big MNCs, arms industries, TNCs, Pharma Corports working day and night to making people and regions poor of the poor? where the problem lies?
Good piece of paper highlighting and explaining the concepts of liberal and liberalism as political concepts rooted into the priciples of equality, justice and liberty. further, the writer has pointed out liberalism as political philosophy based on the aforementioned principles and is opposed to force and suppression in any sense in the organization of human society.
But, to me, the very concept is a very vague and especially its implementation in the form of Liberal American Democracy and its forceful polices distort it clearly. I want to understand the imposition of liberal democratic policies by major western powers ( America in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and France in Libya etc) to serve their interests, are they justified in any sense because they are the outcome of liberal democratic principles of so called equality, justice and liberty?
@Sajid: Dear, the term was coined in the USA by the right! Texans , for example hate liberals, let alone liberal fascists,
what's really hilarious about this entire thread is how almost every right-winger on this forum has failed to understand the gist of the article. This article is meant to clarify some of the most basic misconceptions and incorrect moral condemnations of those who do not support the right wing. This article is attempting toe de-bunk the false notion that those who oppose the hard-line theocratic and morally arrogant fundamentalist "muslim" narrative don;t automatically propagate promiscuity, substance abuse and denial of all faith. The truly stomach-crampingly hilarious fact is that "liberal" is not a curse word only in Pakistan but also in societies considered the diametrical opposite of Pakistan , the USA. In every society on earth there exists an in-built tendency to attack those who wish to update society's perception of itself. The "liberals" in Pakistan who are so often cursed and condemned are in fact attempting nothing more than putting the nation face to face with its internal flaws. unfortunately the existence of any flaws int he "masterplan" is a completely impossible for these morally arrogant elements to accept. And so they attack those who wish to face these flaws by calling them anti-pakistan, anti-Islam and anti-whatever-you-may-but-for-their-heresy-they-must-be-killed/ostracized/condemned/hated/cursed. THe republican mindset in the US is very similar to that of the fundo -rightwing pakistanis who hate them so passionately. The the final kicker in this comedy. Right-wing americans and right-wing Pakistanis hate each other with a furious passion, but they have more in common with each other than any "liberal" of any society. They both are arrogant far beyond what reality merits, they both refuse to admit the existence of flaws in their narrative and both with go to extreme lengths to attack the liberal narrative as -anti-patriotic, anti-Islam/christianity, anti-progress, anti-morality and anti-religion. I am laughing now and i will continue to laugh, for in the face of such folly what choice does a peaceful man have?
Because word "liberalism" is always misused and freedom is always used in negative sense......
okay the problem is when non liberals are intellectually bankrupt people claim to be liberals.. dont you see rana sanaullah is claimed to be a politician, raza gilani is claimed by a leader, similarly there are people who claim to be so and so in journalist society, but they are nothing more than rana sana ullah or PMLN and raza gilani of PPP.
There are no liberals in Pakistan. Your issue is with those who refer to themselves as liberals, but they are anything but that. Mostly leftist reactionaries and neocon/kafir apologists who don't know jack about liberalism. They give liberalism a bad name. In keeping with the liberal theme, the self-identified "liberals" need to read up on liberalism and act upon it instead of spewing garbage - you know, the advice to given to "Islamists". Political definitions become skewed across time and space. Liberals in the West are not like the "liberals" in the East. The "liberals" in the east are closer to neocons than they are to liberals.
This is so true! I have people just shun me sometimes with "you're just too liberal" referring to my way of dress. It just amazes me how people just don't get it! Here I'm' just thinking, believe it or not, politically I'm more conservative than I am liberal but with the way you talk I'm sure you probably have no idea what that implies...
Excellent riposte to the fascists in this country. As a liberal and staunch secularist I fully concur with your view. Let the fascists realise that there is no such thing as a perfect system and the best system that has been proven to work successfully in many great nations is secular democracy that values the individual and individual rights. It provides the space to solve the majority of peoples problems. Thank you again.
Enjoyed Riaz Khan's comments! In order to further progress in Pakistan if these words are added than you can attain success beyond your wildest drams. They are America Murdabad, India Murdabad, Jihaad Zindabad & Kashmir Pakistan Ki Shahrugh.
@ author Comparison of Kashmir and Palestine was a bit of stretch . Kashmir and Balochistan would have been more balanced
fyi, almost all nations of the world have so-called liberals, conservatives, and people applying these selectively, are present. America was built on the ideals of individualism and governments staying out of people's lives, not in it. Stating otherwise is deny the fact of history. U.S. has never been liberal as we in Pakistan have started pedaling the term. There is no social or economic equality and neither does any government, aside from the ones from the former Russian block, even aspires to do so. If you want to narrow the 'liberal' definition to include legal equality only then you may have a point but do realize that it's a small form of what makes you and your society
Better to be a "Liberal" even "Liberal Facist" than anything resembling the fraudsters like Imi-the-dimi.
@ALi: Right. What would a liberal know about liberals?
Pakistani so called liberals support war and killing of innocents civilians by drones. Whereas American liberals oppose this war. This tells you about sick reality of our wannabe liberals
Overwhelming majority of Pakistani Parliamentarians are liberal and do not favor religious extremism. The problem lies with the modern Westernized liberals.This desire to make everyone like himself is a major characteristic of the modern ultra-liberal. This is what paradoxically leads him to be anti-democratic, for the desire to make others conform to his opinion causes him to cast dissidents into the outer darkness. He is so self-righteous that he honestly believes that anyone with a liking for Islamic ideals must be either stupid or extremist or fanatic..
Bina, you articulated the essence of liberalism very correctly. But the example given by you to explain 'pseudo libral'/'selective libralism' that if "someone will espouse the right of Palestinians to have their own separate state, yet does not support the Kashmiris in the same aspiration", is not correct. Because the recorded and course of history is absolutely different from one another. Live with love-Let democracy work
well i dont think that the problems lies in people's mind but responsible for this matter is that specific frastrated bluff class who want themselves to be in liberals catogery...
IMO liberal means to liberate yourself from every thing you can do whatever you want. on the other side the word muslim means to submit your will to the God and be a slave of Allah. so either you can be a muslim or a liberal.
Liberal word has a negative connotation in Pakistan because if you ask someone who "drinks, uses drugs, enjoins promiscuity and wears inappropriate clothing" if he is a liberal he will say 'yes'. Your article should have been directed to these so called liberals to enlighten them on what liberalism is and not the other way around.
unfortunately Liberals in India fight for Muslims.
Thanks for the wikipedia piece.
Yes, indeed, it is oddly tragic that Pakistanis who agree with such greats as Noam Chomsky, such as Imran Khan and Sir Dr Professor Syed Hafeez are derided as ‘extremists’ by Pakistani ‘liberals’.
Can I have just ONE statement where Noam Chomsky says that he agrees with Imran Khan and 'Professor' Hafiz Saeed? Please.
Or where Imran Khan has agreed that the 'Liberal', which includes Chomsky, are NOT 'scum'? Please again.
I know liberal does not believe in force at all.
Fantastic article but 99.99% of Pakistanis will not understand what it means!
You are absolutely right. But I believe this article should address most of the Liberals of Pakistan, as they have distorted the image of Liberalism for the rest of us. For them any thing Anti-Islam and pro West is Liberalism. But a true liberal would stand against the issues like "Drone Attacks in FATA, Ban on Hijab in France and killings of Muslims in Burma", but unfortunately Majority of Liberals here dont get it. I dont see any "Human Rights" NGO of Pakistan, claiming to be run by "Liberals" or "Left wing supporters" holding a protest against Drone Attacks. And that is why these are labelled as Pseudo-wanna be Liberals.
for example liberalism is not anti- Hijab ..... it is about giving freedom and right to wear it or not to wear it ......... but our fake liberals present Hijab/ Burqa as an anti- liberalism thing ........... so these pseudo liberals are responsible for this situation ......
liberalism is not a dirty thing ......... but Pakistani #FakeLiberals are ............. because they think liberalism is all about rebellion against religion and society .......... but liberalism is name of rebellion against oppression ..... Islam is also an movement against oppression ......... so these are not two different things ........ but our Pakistani #FakeLiberals think so .........
In Pakistan, ‘liberal’ is a dirty word And 'radical' a sacred word.....
@elementary: You articulated the essence of liberalism. The author did a good job. You did an even better job.
@Ali Ahmad: As an outsider, i have noticed your liberals are equally against(if not more) against drone attacks. It is actually your establishment(read army) which had got the country to the stage where it has to turn a blind eye to drone attacks etc... Your establishment can stop drone attacks if they have the will, but they don't. Don't blame your liberals for it. I find the contradiction in the extreme right interesting in Pakistan, whereas it is concerned about Aafia trial, but they do not seem to be concerned about the death of Salman taseer, Bhatti etc...
Liberals: "...fictional stories like Pakistan Studies...studies that have no practical or intellectual value like Islamiyat..."
I guess enough quoted, if you don't know your history you have not an iota of understanding of whom you are and if one considers knowledge of ones faith has no value, well then hmmm what exactly are you doing here?
Even in the USA national history is taught, in the UK Religious Education is a core subject, thusist strikes me as completely pathetic that subjects which are perfectly legitimate in the countries these coconuts aspire to emulate, somehow become irrelevant in Pakistan.
It is this hypocrisy many ORDINARY Pakistanis detest and RIGHT WING elements of our society use to whip (rightly so) these confused, disillusional nobodies who consider it their God given right to bad mouth anything which is against their belief.
Oops! God they don't believe in and freedom of speech is a luxury which is limited to them...
Ansari sahib, iphone or nophone, your words are always enlightening and instructive. People like you are the pride of Pakistan and may your towering intellect and search for the truth continue to shine the way forward for the youth of Pakistan.
Yes, indeed, it is oddly tragic that Pakistanis who agree with such greats as Noam Chomsky, such as Imran Khan and Sir Dr Professor Syed Hafeez are derided as 'extremists' by Pakistani 'liberals'. Goes to show how out of touch with 'liberalism' these liberals are.
A state founded on the principle of a specific religious identity can never be liberal.
@gp65 Thanks. My comment was moderated. If you see my second comment where I agreed with faraz, you will get my opinion.
That's because so-called "liberals" in Pakistan are among the worst people in educated society. These "liberals" (including certain writers and lawyers who I won't mention) are virulently anti-Pakistan and anti-Army, and basically seem to believe that the salvation of the world lies in the destruction of Pakistan. Liberals in Pakistan are an insult to the word.
Actually WOG should mean Wahhabi Oriental Gentlemen. After all most of want to dress and think like desert arabs. Where is our pride and self-respect then ?
I think "Truthseekers" would be just as good name for liberals.
If it isn't for the liberals, all the consveratives of different groups would end up killing up each other...the only thing that unites all the conservatives is their intolerance for the "others"....So next time you hate on a liberal, know that they would be the only ones who would speak up for your rights when you are in minority in any given society.
"Ana, liberals do far more damage than a misguided individual setting off some bombs. Liberals undermine the entire society’s sense of right and wrong – promoting vice and decrying anyone attempting to preserve the good and the virtuous."
@Kaalchakra..really? so you are telling me people who are blowing up innocents have a sense of right and wrong?
This intellectual bankruptcy amongst Middle Class Pakistani's is to be expected if one looks at the parochial curriculum taught in our schools. Rather than teaching fiction courses like Pakistan Studies and those which may have no practical or intellectual benefit like Islamiyat at the senior level, students at this level should have the option of studying sociology, political science, anthropology, history and other social sciences in public and private schools.
@ali ahmad nicely said
Islam teaches us to be live a balanced lifestyle, you have to maintain the equilibrium of life.Liberals and extremists are westerners terms, they use extremists for people who go to church every Sunday and performs rituals and liberal is the term used for Atheists. My brothers dont follow westerners, once we were followed by them in every field and look at them how they are now by following us, so pls think before you do anything don't follow without having a logical explanation to follow.
Liberalism had no role in creation of Pakistan. History should not be myth making. The Pakistan movement, which is based on supremacy of religion and religion based identity, is opposite of everything liberal. Pakisan today is a logical conclusion of the ideals on which the Pakistan movement was based.
I refuse the garb of liberal to anyone who admits to the illegitimate killing of people in drone strikes, at least.
liberal is not a dirty word in Pakistan but the problem lies with some people who hide behind this word in the west liberals are against this war they are against drone strikes in Pakistan but some so called liberals in our media and society justify war on terror and drone strikes
Everybody should read what ali shariati used to say about these people
A futile attempt by the writer -
@Nasir Mahmood::For the last 50 years (since right/left divide) I had been trying to find the right words to describe the system that suited best for Pakistani mindset.I failed to convince neither of the two schools of thought i.e.right and left (the terms were in vogue during those days) because I could not explain to them what kind of political system general public will accept.Bhutto did coin the term Islamic-socialism but being contradictory in its nature could not win the hearts of the majority.I cant say how a meaningless slogan like 'roti-kapra-makan' is still holding its ground though it serves no socio-political and economic purpose.You in your comment have hit the nail at perfect spot but I can not say when the people will understand that this is the only and best solution for Pakistan to develop a 'national consensus' as it covers all schools of thought prevalent in Pakistan
@Akram: Let people choose, why force conservatism? People will decide what they want to do or not..we dont need mullah moral brigades patrolling our streets.
@Tribal Insafian: "don’t explode bombs but they condone (& advocate) drones bombing civilians in FATA (now don’t quote me CIA figures saying hundreds of militants killed please)."
You twisted two topics into one. A social view and war. An individual's actions and beliefs become irrelevant to how a war is done because war is simply kill or be killed. One side is going to die no matter what. You can't preach being kind to one side when that side is most certainly going to kill the other the next time they get the chance as well. Liberal values have no place in a fight to the death, a war, once it has begun. Can you say drones being stopped will stop the extremists? No. Can you say the extremists being stopped will stop the drones? Yes. In the bigger picture, the most a liberal can side with is the one that has the best outcome for people as individuals as a whole. The thing that will bring an end to further killing. That's war. You can't have a war without factoring in loss of life as a part of any choice. The only thing you can do is be quiet and that won't help anything either.
@Akram: what culture are you talking about killing people ,shia,sunni and ahmadis culture only comes if you can pass it on ahead but the way and where pakistan is heading culture word will only be left in books to read.
The so called liberals try to own Quaid e to justify their marginalized perverted thinking about Pakistanis
They align themselves with those who are against Pakistan
Mohammad Ali Jinnah was not secular, nor was he theocratic and he prayed like a Sunni in Pakistan
The dirties word in a Pakistani Liberlas vocabular is "Pakistani Zindabad". These WOGs are a product of Lord MaCaulay's education system which produced Western Oriental Gentlemen and now women who dressed an thought like the colonialists but looked local
Kudos to the missionaries who continue to spew out this garbage in Pakistan
Editor Rupee News Http///www.rupeenews.com
Sent from iPhone so please excuse my iron thumbs
Pakistani liberal fascists--that's exactly what they are aligned not witht Liberals like Noam Compsky and Howard Zinn or Gore Vidal but with the likes of Frum, Limbaugh and other right wing Fascists in the West
Yes they are pseudo wannabe Liberals who are totally aligned with the right wingers in America
Quaid e Azam made certain policy statements in his speech to the State Bank of Pakistan which explode the urban legend that he was a liberal. He was a Muslim Narionalist and a good Muslim who led a great nation to independence.
The owner of this newspaper--the New York Times is a liberal newspaper in the US but it has blinders for Muslims and Pakistan. The NYT led an aggressive campaign for war against Iraq based on a false premise and fake documents
The Liberals in Pakistan went along with all this nonsense and so on and so forth. The writer is a poor apologist for them--but I forget I am reading a US owned newspaper that has a very small circulation and a minuscule readership. In reality you guys don't matter and are insignificant in the greater scheme of things.
@ AKRAM, I strongly believe that you haven't read the whole article.
Thank you for writing this. And while I am not a liberal by most counts, I am completely with you in that the word "liberal" is completely misunderstood and to be honest, I dont think anyone makes the effort of finding out what being a liberal implies.
@Tribal Insafian We are against and condemn the killing of a human anywhere in the world.In the same way, we are against to both Terrorist Taliban and Drone Strikes. but there is quite difference b/w these two terms in course of their actions and cause and its affects.The Taliban carried out the attacks in public places like in Bazars,Markets , Mosques , schools and funeral prayers which disturb the whole society and destroy the future of whole nation.While Drone is a technology which have efficiency to hit & kill these heart core terrorists with less number of innocents while the attacks which are carried by these terrorists killed almost all innocents.let see short history of Drone the first ever drone which killed top class Taliban commander Naeik Muhammad Wazir in 2004,the Drone killed an other top class terrorist Baituallah Masud and Ilyas Kishmiri and many more.but the matter which disturb we all from some time that,in our country there are some pseudo Liberals and Extremist Mullahs are strong supporter of Taliban and Terrorists in Pasthun Belt FATA.Pasthun are humans ,they are Heart core Muslims ,and Even they are Pakistanis that's why for the sake Of GOd let stop the killing of innocent Pasthun Brothers.otherwise it will create big problem in future for Pakistani Government.
fist of All accepts thanks from of my heart Madam.at least ,you provide an opportunity to understand the word" Liberal and Liberalism ,Liberal fascist and pseudo-liberal".these words are misused in our society since inception of Pakistan.the liberalism is world accepted the ideology which explain as "a political orientation that favours social progress by reform and by changing laws rather than revolution”but here in our society we are facing the fascist liberal more than Liberal which is main threat to our society like now a days most favored youngster political party and their leader "PTI".who proclaim about liberalism only to keep with themselves and you may also call them sometime Pseudo liberals when you see them in front of Rallies in support of Taliban and Terrorists.secondly we all always faced the threat from rightist and extremists Mullah who knows nothing about the words Liberal and liberalism and just comes out from their hideouts issue Fatwas against others for gaining of Political favor-ism.now ,it is the time say good bye to extremists illogical Mullah along with Fascist Liberals and start support the well educated people who having clear understanding of these terms and the parties which could ensure the liberal and prosperous are PPP ,ANP,PMAP.
Excellent article ! This was direly needed
any discussion on liberalism and libertarianism would be incomplete without a complementary concept of Latitudinarianism which is the essence of religious tolerance that actually reinforces liberalism.
@C. Nandkishore: "No doubt the author has done her best to explain the meaning of the word ‘liberal’. But what is the use of this article?"
The purpose is o stop right wing people from takingthe easy way out and discarding the logical arguments of liberals. Currently liberal is a negative term , so atomatically any input from someone who identifies themselves as liberal is automatically rejected.
Belief in an authority has the pivotal role for the Orthodox. They are collectivist, who believe that sole purpose of individual existence is to fulfil the purpose of this higher authority. To achieve this obedience, loyalty, faith and sacrifice are the attributes which are exacted and glorified. Individual freedom of thought and expression is discouraged and more often than not crushed.
Liberals seek to obtain maximum freedom for the individual defying Authority be it divine or that of the state.They strive for a political and economic system which affords maximum opportunity for the growth of all that is good in individual.Unconditional freedom of thought and expression for the individual is the supreme goal.In matters pertaining to morality they will prefer to be guided by rationality .
Liberals become fascist when they believe that everyone has to subscribe to their world view. If liberals were to let conservatives be the majority which they are in pakistan, there would be no problem.
What´s funny is the alleged liberals in this country are nothing more than a standard citizen in a civilized world.Seeing them as an unpalatable species suits only to the pakistani context.
@Bangash Mr Jinnah was not a libral in his brain he was true muslim who understood the language of congress party and he met Maulana Ashref Ali Thanvi sahab too and his nephew Maulana Shabir Ahmed Usmani sahab his right hand allways untill the pakistan creation.
Foreign and defense policy is run by the army, which you don’t have the courage to oppose. There is no liberal in policy or decision making institute of the state. For Imran khan, army is not responsible for causing collateral damage in military operations, but liberals are for condoning it! Did liberals give Shamsi airbase to US to conduct drone strikes? And who says the murderers of 40,000 Pakistanis are pushtoon nationalists and not extremists? Who concocts conspiracy theories to explain sectarian violence? Do you oppose the inclusion in PTI of two ex foreign ministers which supported war on terror? Well I support military action against every anti-state element whether in FATA, Baluchistan or Karachi.
Bina - Good article. But may I ask what does it make a difference if one day I wake up and start calling a mango a flower. End of the day, people will visualize a mango as they see it. I agree that liberals have been marginalized in the society for long. But may I also ask what have liberals done to change that perception? Growing up in lower middle class, I always used to think that liberals are not only the ones you described as 'libertine' above but also those who are rich, elitist, look down upon poor people, and sophisticated enough to appear clean but connected to a deep rent-seeking patronage network behind the scenes. Now for sure, I was wrong but that's because I stepped out of my way to find that out, not that liberals in Pakistan made any effort to change that perception. So as obvious, the problem is that Pakistani liberals in general are too high on intellectualism and too low on action, which reduces their contact base with common people. Furthermore, many liberals have a very unhealthy tendency of calling the masses ignorant rightists, so it builds out a psychological blockade to their acceptance in society.
Great piece! People in Pakistan also confuse Liberals as advocates of unfettered Westernisation.. That is not true. Liberals also believe in upholding Pakistan's traditional values and culture ...at the same time respecting other cultures and willing to learn and appreciate the values they espouse.
The author must dig deeper into the problems faced by liberals in Pakistan:
Support for drone strikes -> they are killed terrorists, right? No civilians are getting killed, right? Let them drone the whole northern part of of country
Aafia Siddiqui, a convicted terrorist you say? Have you studied the weaknesses of the trial brought against her? Based mostly on perceptions and not facts, LIBERALS in Europe/USA know that the trial against her was fake. LIBERALS in Pakistan are busy in promoting themselves as pro-America, no matter what America does.
And these are just two out of many examples.
The liberals in Pakistan are naive, with no guts to stand up for human rights when the situation demands so. In the rest of the world, they are called realists (in terms of political theory), in Pakistan the same people call themselves "liberals".
In America, true liberals are those who stand up for human rights, those who know the true essence of democracy and equality for all human being. Tips to the author: watch Democracy Now. Thats what liberalism is all about, about being CRITICAL. And not accepting everything served from the spoon with the "Made in USA" label
i am not liberal i am hard core secular and sooner or later you all will be whether you like it or not, whether you want it or not, whether you realize or not
A great Op Ed that is simple to understand for all. This is the gist of the argument "‘liberal fascist’, as empty as it is oxymoronic, a term that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, as the principles of liberalism — equality, justice, liberty — are completely at odds with the concept of fascism, which is a form of extremely authoritarian, intolerant right wing governance that takes away the civil rights of its citizens and uses force and violence to compel them into obedience." Liberal and fascist are the terms opposite to each other. Hitler and his allies were fascists and the enemies of liberals. While liberals are usually leftwing the fascists are always rightwing extremists including the religious fanatics. While liberals and progressives go hand in hand, fascists are always against the new ideas and openness and are fundamentalists. The term liberal fascist is as paradoxical and false as a good self appointed dictator. Liberal is a quality that requires courage and foresight. However, in Pakistan it is twisted like secular is termed not as one who respects the rights of all religions and religious freedom but it is turned into one do does not believe. The term for that is atheist not secular.
@ana: Pakistani liberal fascists (yes you heard it right, my dear writer) don't explode bombs but they condone (& advocate) drones bombing civilians in FATA (now don't quote me CIA figures saying hundreds of militants killed please). They are pseudos because whilst they advocate military operations against militants in FATA / KPK (& condone as "collateral damage" the civilian deaths caused as a result), they fiercely oppose military operations against militants in Balochistan. Its ironic as much as it is hypocritical. Whilst they make a hue & cry over marginalization of various communities like Shia Muslims or Ahmadis, they conveniently dub all FATA tribesmen as terrorists or "terrorist sympathizers"; hence justifying drone strikes on mosques, hujras, jirgas & funerals. (yes I know militants bomb mosques, hujras & jirgas. So do Americans. Both are sides of the same coin so lets condemn both equally, unless off-course DOLLAR speaks). p.s: Before the pseudo-liberals pounce at me, let me clearly state that this is not to suggest that any actions at marginalization of Shias, Ahmadis or Baloch are justified. PERIOD
Excellent article! Three words in PK which can take you to the highest positions. Kashmir Zindabad, Islam Zindabad & Pak Fauj Zindabad. We have been running in circles since 65 years around these three words.
Dear Moderator, Thanks for printing my comment. however you have removed the last sentence. Anyway faraz has said the same in his own way and got it printed. Me being an engineer had said the same thing in an engineer's language. Thanks.
Well sadly, many libertarians justify their actions by calling themselves liberals. Remember, Islam is not bad, the Muslims gave it a bad name through their actions. Im sure liberalism is not bad but liberals gave it a bad name. But then there are people in fact who vigorously promote their liberal view point. And if someone does not agree to their view points, then comes the river of abuses and taunts and attacks on one's belief and religious views.
Our country's founder, Mr Muhammad Ali Jinnah, if he had been alive today, would not only have be condemned by many as a liberal 'fascist' but he would also have had his life threatened by our religious extremists for being a member of the Shia community. It is shameful that Pakistan has reached these straits of ignorance compounded with woeful intolerance.
The writer gave the definition of word liberalism "political orientation that favours social progress by reforms and by changing laws rather than revolution", where religion comes in between.
Ana, liberals do far more damage than a misguided individual setting off some bombs. Liberals undermine the entire society's sense of right and wrong - promoting vice and decrying anyone attempting to preserve the good and the virtuous.
The right wing narrative taught in textbooks and adopted by the state has proved to be an utter failure over past 6 decades; but it is so thoroughly ingrained in the minds of the people that they cringe and twist when liberals point out of the internal contradictions and policy disasters emanating from it. Right wing is intellectually bankrupt, and doesn’t have the capacity to reform itself or logically argue, so the only option left for the confused right wing is shallow slandering
Imran Khan is responsible for popularizing this non-sense term "Liberal Fascist".
There we go. A liberal teaching the world about liberal. Liberal extremist are a curse in this country as religious extremists are.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a liberal, but the country that he helped found has been pillaged by mullahs, generals and bureaucrats.