Don’t tell me to ‘stop being negative’ about Pakistani affairs

Published: March 31, 2014
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Zero revolutions thus far are attributed to people urging us to ‘stop being so darn negative all the time’.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been mocked for raging on the blogosphere about Pakistani matters. And many like myself have been repeatedly prescribed a ‘positive attitude’. These patronising suggestions need to stop.

One of the leading complaints against liberal writers and media outlets is that they allegedly ‘focus on the negativity’ and fail to provide sufficient coverage to the saccharine, more palatable details of our country. Such ‘positivity’ is the staple diet of nationalists who are easily irked by information of our national imperfection and the blessed opium of the ignoramuses who cannot conceive the astronomical depths to which we have fallen.

These are the ones who seek to calm the fires of Twitter over the burning of Hindu temples in Larkana and Hyderabad. They would rather have the newspapers report ‘Hindu temple still standing in Karachi today’, so we can clap our hands raw and get back to our positive living.

It’s the burden of any journalist, writer or responsible citizen to report on what’s dysfunctional first, from the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) debacle to the attack on Raza Rumi, before gratifying oneself with news of things that are working fine.

Others would roll their eyes at your concern for the death penalty awarded to a Christian father of two – a verdict, it is averred, and that did not take the mitigating circumstances of the case into consideration. For the community of Christians, this is a fitting finale to the Joseph Colony tragedy that left 200 Christian homes destroyed, a church razed, and hundreds injured and displaced.

Way to stick a finger in the bullet-wound!

And when the minorities and their friends clamour on Facebook about the on-going injustices, it is not unlikely for someone to drop by and say something along the lines of,

‘Chill, baby!’

It’s a blazing indicator of one’s absence of empathy; a sign that you either don’t see the tragedy as a big deal, or have completely failed to grasp what it means to the minorities and their future in this country.

Women are frequent victims of the rose-smellers. Feminists are written off as ‘too whiny’ when they talk of the society’s patriarchal attitudes and liberals are called ‘oversensitive’ when pointing out subtle but ubiquitous presence of bigotry. Unsurprisingly, the calls to ‘calm down’ come from the socially and politically privileged sections of the society that are having a hard time understanding what women and minorities go through nearly every day of their lives.

Though a mild-mannered person in real life, I’ve received numerous complaints regarding my political ranting on Facebook. Perhaps I ought to cool down and spend more time posting duck-faced selfies, pictures of my food, and hideously clichéd quotes about life and how to manage it. Oh, and put up the picture of a flower or my baby cousin as my display picture, because that’s a thing now.

Jinnah did not lead a march of Muslims focusing on what was positive in their lives. Zero revolutions thus far are attributed to people urging us to ‘stop being so darn negative all the time’. It is only when there is expressed unease about something that solutions will be offered to fix it.

Despondence and hopelessness may lead to self-destruction, but anger is the heart of change. And if you haven’t thrown furniture around the room at the knowledge of what’s been going on in your country, you haven’t been paying enough attention.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Kick Boxer

    Nobody called you a Hindu or an Indian? That’s a frequent slur when you uphold liberal or sensible views on religion or political subjects. I am disappointed in your Facebook crowd. ;)Recommend

  • Parvez

    Good topic that.
    I suppose much depends on what type of person you are, how fortunate you are, what type of an education you have had, what values you have acquired from your parents, how impressionable are you, whether you are a leader or a follower, if you are capable of independent thought………just getting angry and throwing furniture ( loved that ) really changes nothing. If bringing change was easy Obama’s velvet tongue would have done it.Recommend

  • water bottle

    This is a problem of the subcontinent.

    I highlight the problems of the Muslims and I use harsh language to draw my point home and people hate me.

    They forget that I am even more harsh towards our own justice system, our corrupt system, the cricket and cinema.

    This problem will continue until we are able to liberate ourselves from lies.Recommend

  • water bottle

    This is a problem of the subcontinent.

    I highlight the problems of the Muslims and I use harsh language to draw my point home and people hate me.

    They forget that I am even more harsh towards our own justice system, our corrupt system, the cricket and cinema.

    This problem will continue until we are able to liberate ourselves from lies.Recommend

  • Necromancer

    Well liberals are supposed to democratic and if someone is giving their opinion regardless of their stance (liberal or conservative) it should be respected. Criticism is one of the basic principle which lift people thinking and creativeness.Recommend

  • Usama Zafar

    Totally agree with you. Thats exactly what I used to tell people when they would say stuff like “media likes to spoil the country’s image” after finding out I worked for print mediaRecommend

  • Usama Zafar

    Totally agree with you. Thats exactly what I used to tell people when they would say stuff like “media likes to spoil the country’s image” after finding out I worked for print mediaRecommend

  • Miss Syed

    Perhaps The pakistani nation will rise once they get bored of their national sports ( Shadii extravaganza) when women stop obsessing over their designer dresses and men stop seeking Slim, no more than 18 years old drs as their life partners.
    A society devoid of any morals, ethics, fed with false notions of religion is bound to be in this state.

    May Allah Guide the people of Pakistan to look beyond this materialistic, Vanishing Life. may we have genuine Love for mankind, and the nerve to actually do something rather than just reading the article, sipping hot coffee and off to bed

    Regards,Recommend

  • Aishah

    We are useless creature and a burden on this planet Earth when our fellow human beings are dying of poverty in Thar and we are spending our money in buying new clothes, shadi business and entertaining ourselves, when women talk about their husbands, in-laws or kids as if thats the only problem left in the world when men whine about their ex gfs as if that was the only purpose of their existence, i feel we dont have an inch of humanity left in ourselves.Recommend

  • Manish

    You are not exactly liberal when in your blogs you write things as “perhaps the Indian diplomat was Cavity searched to recover the wages which she had hidden (in her cavities). Sorry to say but that was the most disgusting and downmarket of a comment ever published here,even worse for t to get approved. Please stop flattering yourself as a liberal, the mindset resembles that of a Stone Age sexist.Recommend

  • Multani

    You should highlight the problems of the Hindus, for a change.
    Give the Muslims a break from your dichotomies. As is evident
    Blogs are a civil discussion forums. Not to spew out poisonous
    words and anti Muslim diatribes. Which you do constantly.Recommend

  • http://narendramodifacts.com/ narendramodifacts

    Nationalism in South Asia – India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka certainly – increasingly means right-wing ethnic nationalism. It is time to move on from nationalism to internationalism.Recommend

  • Framjeet Rangoonwala.

    You should keep your comments to a civilized discourse, as is
    required by blog etiquette. Instead of spewing hateful, libelous
    statements against Muslims. As you normally.Recommend

  • Mukhtaran

    and wasted my few minutes again. Go learn about Ikhlaaq and how you can do amar bil maroof o nahi anil munkir. In order to Amar bil maroof you first need to have good Ikhlaaq. Then only a person listening to you might realize & understand your viewpoint. When your being rude/arrogant and being stubborn with your viewpoints forcing liberalism down the throat of Pakistanis sorry they will retort by “Being Positive”.Recommend

  • Motiwala

    It will be a good idea if you liberate yourself from anti Muslim epithets.
    That you use in your comments. Calling other comment writers liars.
    Blatantly. You are not civil in your discourse.Recommend

  • Unknown

    When people will not do their work obviously people will die and bad things will happen. If people like Dr Faraz instead of pointing at others do his work properly then that will be a good thing for Pakistan. But unfortunately, these days no one wants to work but just want to be a blogger who hate everything in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Humanity

    Time will tell that Obama’s legacy is brighter than many, both at domestic and foreign fronts, despite the rock hard resisted he faces from the GOP.Recommend

  • Humanity

    @Author:
    If you live the values you seek in the society, then by all means be as much ‘negative’ as you choose about the failing society. Otherwise join the Lemmings as they march towards the cliff for a collective suicide. You be the judge.Recommend

  • Malaika Harris

    I’m sure those people who make fun of dissidents for “being negative” just feel guilty that THEY aren’t doing anything. It’s probably for this reason that they feel the need to tell others to calm down.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Work like what? Should I have put on my superhero cape and personally flown in to defend those temples?

    Awareness-raising counts as work, sometimes. People around you too have to know the extent of the problem, because there are certain things that are just beyond your personal reach to handle.

    My work, as a writer, is to try and influence change through my writing. And if that’s not enough, it’s still better than what you’re doing: shushing other people when they express their concern for the problem.Recommend

  • Landhi wala

    Start highlighting the problems of the Hindus. Using harsh language.
    In Indian newspapers.Recommend

  • water bottle

    It would be even better if you faced the facts, instead of asking me to lie. Interesting that you take offense that I call others liars and you yourself accuse me of not being civil. What should I call you then? And I will continue my discourse of truth, despite what bigots say. Because I know my intentions.Recommend

  • Fahad ZIa

    Please let me know where one can find an 18 year old doctor.Recommend

  • deep

    I was with you till the point you wrote about : Jinnah did not lead a march of Muslims focusing on what was positive in their lives. Perhaps you need to look at the nature of that struggle if today you are being called a Hindu or Shia or worse on Facebook. The demolition of a temple or mosque is just an outward expression of widespread bigotry in society. And instead of general angst about the situation – what your friends are telling you is to stop airing the negative but focus on the specifics – the most effective tool against bigotry is a police and justice system that is not biased. As a pakistani who empathizes with the minorities and women – perhaps you can ensure an unbiased approach by authorities by making your articles more investigative and specific in nature. And if not anything else, it will get you shot a la Rumi or Saleem.Recommend

  • Durkhas Khan Hunza wala

    Dissidents is a strong word. Besides, this whole comment
    flew over my head….Duh. I done gone feel confused.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    You’re paraphrasing, and not very accurately.

    Also, that has to do with this blog…absolutely nothing. And it’s not “sexist”. You can’t just throw an epithet and hope it sticks, irrespective of it making sense or not.Recommend

  • water bottle

    what makes you think I don’t do that?Recommend

  • water bottle

    You will do well to know that my comments are published after moderation.

    I don’t write based on what some people consider it to be civilized or not.

    If you still have questions, ask the moderator.Recommend

  • water bottle

    What I write are facts.

    If I say, Gujrat riot were started by Muslims, is it not a fact?

    If I say, there is not a single country with a considerable population of Muslims, where Muslims live in peace with others, is it not a fact? You prove me otherwise instead of calling it anti Muslim diatribe.

    As far as Hindus are concerned, I highlight their problems all the time whenever the right opportunity comes.Recommend

  • Framjeet Rangoonwala.

    Your comments slipped through the moderator. Somehow.
    Rest assured. They will be monitored. Henceforth.Recommend

  • Manish

    While i may not have quoted the exact words , i am more than certain that i have managed to portray the essence of it.Not only was it sexist, your demeanor was distasteful and degrading to an individual. For you to claim it as “not sexist” goes against the very basis of this piece of blog where you are bashing the very attitude of people for taking a back seat and down playing any event of serious consideration. I agree my comment has nothing to do with this blog and my apologies to rake up the issue when you would have least wanted it. However your attempt to project yourself as a liberal forward thinking progressive person and the rant against the shortsightedness of people in your society falls short of any credibility given your own views which you so boldly and proudly professed on a previous occasion.Recommend

  • Unknown

    You are trained to be a medical doctor, condition of patients in Pakistan is extremely bad. I hope you had seen hospitals in Washington and in Pakistan as well, compare them. Your prime job is to work for improvement of hosptials and saving patients. Writing about the things that you had just read in the newspaper etc is not of your concern. People who are trained for those jobs, obviously they will also be jumping into some other field and that is the result of bad condition of those things. At least you can do best for what you are trained for and thing related to that.Recommend

  • Hunza wala

    Just because he is training to be a doctor does not
    allow him to express his opinion on any other subject?
    Even if he read it in a newspaper, he is barred? Restricted?
    He is entitled to a social discourse of his choosing.
    Why should he just limit himself to the medical field, only.
    There are doctors who are lawyers. And pilots. Politicians.
    And excellent cooks [with their own TV shows !]Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    You do realize what ‘sexism’ is, Manish? It’s differential treatment on the basis of gender.

    The slam was low-brow, but it had nothing to Khobragade’s gender. The statement would’ve been just as valid if the diplomat had been male. It wasn’t hinged on her female-ness.

    Simply firing titles like “sexist” or “racist” or “homophobe” doesn’t mean anything, unless you can actually explain why the act was sexist, racist or homophobic.

    Also, I did not claim to be a quintessential liberal or feminist, nor do I need to be in order for this blog to be true. The argument stands whether or not I’m personally a feminist (though I certainly am). I’m hoping this would be our last exchange on the Khobra-gate article that I wrote eons ago.Recommend

  • MINDBLOWN

    WOW, you can drink coffee and go straight to bed!Recommend

  • Unknown

    When you change field, you leave the previous all together. Otherwise everything get messed up. This is the real problem of Pakistan. We all are jack of all trades, including myself. If we just do our work properly, hopefully everything will improve. When he gathers information to write and write, he obviously give some time to writing blogs, instead if he gives this time to his prime job, result from that job will improve.

    Pakistan mein her koi, apna kam chor k dosron ki field mein tang arana apna farz samjta hayRecommend

  • Unknown

    Faraz, i would like to see your writing on your contribution in medical field. Your ideas that can improve health care. You are best to guide Pakistan for improvement in health care. You have skills of writing. You are also professionally trained for medical field. Combine both the fields and guide the rest of Pakistan instead of mourning on what others are not doing in other fields.Recommend

  • Dante

    Please care to elaborate what has your anger changed so far in Pakistan.

    Revolutions don’t start at Express Tribune blogs, just for your records. If you want to bring a change, be the change and lead the people. Otherwise you’re more than welcome to stay quiet. You’re highlighting the troubles of Pakistan infront of an audience that doesn’t matter (blog readers).Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Is commenting on blogs your primary job, Unknown?

    Because if I’ve understood your argument for one-dimensional existence correctly, you should be spending this time doing whatever your main job is, instead of spending time reading and commenting on online articles.Recommend

  • Manish

    certainly the last such exchange about the low brow comment written eons ago since you just asked me to “Chill!” lol
    Peace out ! :)Recommend

  • Saiful Islam

    Liberals just hate Pakistan. They enjoy degrading Pakistan in the global public. They need to grow up and understand why Pakistan exists.Recommend

  • Unknown

    :) I am no body, a useless person. Honestly, your time is more important than mine. I know the meaning of being a jack of all trades as that is what I am :(. Initially, we get some little fame but at the longer run, we remain far behind everyone else. My honest advise for you is that if you want to be a writer and a medical doctor at the same time, write on how Pakistan can improve in health care, give your ideas on this subject. Bring your comparisons and results of experiments in this field. Combine, your professional expertise and your writing skills for some valuable purpose.Recommend

  • Critical

    I’m sorry Faraz…I’ve been reading ur blogs for past 2 yrs and after witnessing the things happening around me…I just cant buy into this “Moderate Muslim” myth anymore….

    The so called Moderates jump into action when a terrorist blows up or something has been done against non muslims…not pointing at the extremists who did it…But preaching how Islam is a peaceful religion and these extremists are not ‘real’ muslims blah blah blah…

    The moderates protest on the streets when they are in minority and injustice happens to them or to some muslim halfway across the globe…But they keep quiet in muslim majority countries where the non muslims are targetted and persecuted on a daily basis… The maximum you guys do is express anguish over media and that too once again bringing what Islam actually is blah blah blah…Because deep down,the moderates are happy that their religion is growing decimating all opposition

    Compare this with other religions,The biggest critics of Gujarat riots are Hindus.When a media hungry Pastor tried to burn quran,entire christian community retaliated.When a hijab clad woman was subjected to mistreatment in Norway,other women wore the hijab to show solidarity

    In short,in other religions moderates and extremists fight among themselves but in islam,both moderates and extremists combine to fool the world (Al Taqqiya)Recommend

  • Critical

    I know a certain 14 yr old DoctorRecommend

  • Padre

    Indians aren’t renowned for their liberalnessRecommend

  • Gp65

    Is it reporting the news by liberals that gives Pakistan a bad mage or the sordid nature of news itself. Is it the liberals who are burning the temples, destroying Christian homes and falsely accusing them of blasphemy, destroying Ahmedi graves, killing polio workers and red cross workers? Recommend

  • Gp65

    The cavity search did not refer to dental cavities. To have made such a crude comment about what was virtually a rape is most definitely sexist. Men do not have such cavities so that statement could not have been applied to anyone but a woman. Recommend

  • Gp65

    Yes the cavity in question – only women have that. So it is not Manish who has a problem with comprehension. Perhaps you made that crude statement without understanding the nature of the cavity concerned and why people were outraged.Recommend

  • Miss Syed

    We are INDEED one eccentric nation…
    lol!Recommend

  • Razzy

    Perhaps for a change you can try to highlight the very large number of followers of the poisonous RSS ideology in India coming from diverse social, ethnic and economic background.
    Perhaps you could talk about the concept of Honous killing that is so pervasive to the north west of the country (couples getting beheaded for marrying the same gotra)
    Perhaps you could highlight why there are riots over flimsy excuses in India. like Eve-teasing? Perhaps it is all preplanned? Happens in Delhi almost daily and that too countless number of times. Why doesn’t it spark riots there?

    Why don’t you highlight why north easterners face constant abuse both physical and sexual almost daily across India especially in the north?Recommend

  • Saad Kiani

    Faraz Talat you my dear friend are just a blogger. keep venting your anguish on pakistan and that’s your right. though i don’t see how belly aching on internet helps pakistan’s cause. i have read some of your posts and you are a good writer.

    1 thing i want to mention that when you people lash out on pakistan you are definitely disparaging sensitivities of people who love pakistan. i don’t know if you write for the sake of writing or you feel for pakistan and want to make it better. you are right nobody has right to tell you
    “Don’t tell me to ‘stop being negative’ about Pakistani affairs” always keep in mind there is a fine line between criticism and projecting hate. between you self righteous lot are no better than nationalists. if loving your country makes you a nationalist then i am one of them.Recommend