Journalist and author Nadeem Farooq Paracha has written about post-modernism for this publication on more than one occasion. He explains, the PTI cult that is so invested in the narrative of its demagogue that it refuses to be budged by reason.
In many ways Imran Khan’s supporters can be equated with that of Donald Trump’s. They blindly follow their respective populist leaders, who have offered grand slogans of “Naya Pakistan” and “Make America Great Again” respectively. As Khan pompously declared that people would come to Pakistan for jobs, Trump wanted to bring back jobs that were offshored due to globalization.
However, the analogy does not hold entirely true. Trump supporters arose from less-educated, working-class white America that lost blue-collar jobs. In stark contrast, the PTI supporters emerged from the well-educated, upper-middle and middle classes that are financially well off.
It is this class of well-educated, upper-middle and middle class Pakistanis that Paracha has tried to explain through post-modernism. Alluding to post-modernists, he writes, for them “it was okay to have a modern lifestyle and a good education, and to love sci-fi, but refuse to believe in the theory of evolution”.
The crux of the matter, according to Paracha, is that for post-modernists there are no universal truths, and that “reason and science alone don’t have a monopoly over truth”.
Many well-educated Pakistanis uphold archaic beliefs and prejudices. For instance, I recall an accomplished but nihilistic academic who advocated abolishing interest rates and, in case, the economy collapsed, people would die and enter Heaven. Many Pakistanis partake in the latest fads, fashions, TikTok videos, and express concern on Islamophobia only to turn around and rail against Ahmadis and LGBTQ individuals. No wonder, Paracha writes that irony is a “big thing in postmodernism”.
This does not mean all Pakistani post-modernists uphold right-wing opinions. As Paracha writes, “the so-called liberal-left too is not that far behind, as they now seem to spend every waking hour ‘discovering’ sexism, racism, etc., in the ‘subtext’ of a text that might have nothing like that in it at all. This too is postmodernism.”
The crux of the matter, according to Paracha, is that for post-modernists there are no universal truths, and that “reason and science alone don’t have a monopoly over truth”. Generally, this refers to cultural relativism, which according to Hodgson’s Wrong Turnings: How the Left Got Lost, has allowed some feminists to support female genital mutilation as a cultural practice, just as it allowed Michel Foucault to support the Khomeini regime despite its human rights violations.
This is deeply concerning, for the average Pakistani is stuck between the anti-Ahmadi and anti-LGBTQ crowd with its frothing prejudice on the one hand, and the equally strident, woke crowd with its narrative on sexual liberation on the other hand. But Pakistani hospitality rejects the hateful treatment of Ahmadis and LGBTQ individuals, just as Pakistani values reject unrestrained sexual expression, consumerism, and objectification. What is missing is what Pakistani scholar, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, would call meezan (balance) or what is generally known in Islam as tariq al wasat (the middle path). And unless that path of moderation is supported, Pakistanis will be held hostage by the exaggerated narratives of the radical-left and the ultra-right, both of which rest on ghuluw (fanaticism) and perpetual victimhood.