Nadeem F. Paracha
|Nadeem Farooq Paracha|
6 February 1967 |
|Occupation||Journalist, cultural critic, satirist, writer|
|Period||1989 – present|
|Subjects||Popular culture, society, politics, music, media|
Nadeem Farooq Paracha (Urdu: ندیم فاروق پراچہ), (born 6 February 1967, in Karachi), is a left-liberal Pakistani journalist, cultural critic, satirist and short story writer. Since the late 1990s, Paracha has been one of the most vocal critics of Islamists and of the rise of Political Islam in Pakistan. Though having a staunch Marxist background, he now also takes to task certain leading leftists of Pakistan for failing to condemn Islamist violence.
On the issue of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, Paracha claims that "It has become an obligatory part of populist rhetoric in which American involvement is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the country."
Nadeem F. Paracha received his early education at the Kabul American School in Afghanistan from 1970 till 1974. His father was based as a journalist in Kabul reporting for the pro-PPP Urdu daily, Musawaat.
He returned to Pakistan in 1974 and joined the prestigious Karachi Grammar School from where he completed his O Levels in 1983. He then joined Saint Patrick's College in 1984 from where he did his Bachelors degree in Commerce in 1986. It was here that he actively joined student politics, first by joining the Peoples Students Federation, the student wing of the Pakistan Peoples Party and then forming the St. Pats Socialist Students Federation. He worked under the famous PSF leader in Karachi, Najeeb Ahmed. He was arrested a number of times for agitating against the right-wing government of General Zia and for writing and distributing anti-state literature.
After leaving college, Paracha travelled to India for many months. He returned to Pakistan and joined the University of Karachi as a Masters student of Political Science in 1988. He vigorously resumed his political activities by joining the left-wing National Students Federation.
At the fall of the Berlin Wall and of Communism in the former Soviet Union, Paracha started calling himself an Anarchist and with a few college friends began publishing an underground anarchist newsletter called The Arousal. After dissolving The Arousal he joined Mag, Pakistan's largest English weekly magazine, as a feature-writer.
Career in Journalism
After working three years for Mag and already bagging a sizeable following for his sarcastic tirades against the powers that be, Paracha was asked to leave after he wrote a scathing feature against one of Pakistan's biggest politico-religious parties, the Jamaat-e-Islami, accusing them of using funds for the Kashmiri militants to meet their needs for the 1993 general elections that were won by the Pakistan Peoples Party. After a stint as a Concept Writer in various Advertising agencies, Paracha was coaxed by his mentor, Imran Aslam, to join The News International, Karachi, of which Imran was Editor. Paracha joined as editor of the paper's popular culture page, Vibes, and columnist.
In the late 1990s, Paracha, dejected and rejecting the country's electronic and print media, quit writing and became a deluded recluse. After spending almost four years secluded in narcotic wilderness, Paracha returned to writing in 2003 after suffering a now cured drug habit and a mental breakdown.
He is currently associated as a regular columnist with Pakistan's leading English newspaper, Dawn (newspaper) and its website Dawn.Com. Paracha has also been writing for Indian publications such as Asian Age, The Deccan Chronicle, The Times of India and New Age Islam.
Though now in his 40s, Paracha is still known for his iconoclastic writing style.
Paracha is known to be a committed recluse and somewhat unfathomable. This has given birth to a number of theories about his eccentric behaviour and beliefs. Since Paracha only rarely gives interviews, he has never commented much on these theories, but very rarely has he ever denied them as well.
He has always been known to be a Marxist and then an anarchist. However, in a recent interview he gave to a cultural website, WeCite.com, he said that he was always, and still is, nothing more than an "old fashioned Socialist".
Throughout the nineties he was accused by some well known but conservative pop stars and their fans for promoting drug use, especially cannabis, through his articles. In 1996 Paracha was accused of being a user of cannabis by famous Pakistani pop star, Junaid Jamshed whom Paracha had begun to criticise for using his status to promote conservative religious views of the Tableeghi Jamaat that Junaid was in the process of joining.
This is another area Paracha had never commented upon until recently in an interview when he talked in some length about the problems he had in the nineties with hallucinogens. However, he returned in 2003 free from his habits, which he said almost killed him.
Even though praised by his fans and detractors alike for his distinct writing style and knowledge, many have accused him of being 'insensitive' in his written attacks usually aimed at celebrities with conservative views and strong religious beliefs."The Trouble with NFP". Retrieved 2013-01-24.</ref>
They accuse him of imposing his secular views and being overtly sarcastic and caustic about people who talk openly about their religious beliefs, especially celebrities who make religious statements through their art.
Paracha has never commented about his religious beliefs. However in a column of his for Dawn newspaper, he alluded at being a "progressive and liberal Muslim", and in another piece for the same newspaper he sympathised with the Sufi schools of thought.
In spite of all the controversies and ambiguity that have revolved around Paracha, he continues to be hailed as a respected force and writer in the world of Pakistan's cultural and social journalism.
Though known to be an active anti-Zia activist during college and an opinionated leftist journalist in the nineties, he shocked many of his fans by openly supporting and praising General Pervez Musharraf's "anti-terrorism" policies in 2004.
In 2006 while appearing as a special guest on the popular radio show, the Fasi Zaka Show, on Pakistan's FM91, he also praised the Army's controversial role against supposed Al-Qaeda insurgents operating in the mountains of the country's rugged northern areas.
In May 2007, while writing his column in The Friday Times, Paracha defended the MQM and wrote that Punjabi politicians who are calling MQM fascist "have no idea about the social and political dynamics of Karachi and the MQM." The irony is that though many of his readers attacked Paracha for defending MQM's strong arm tactics in the 2007 Karachi Riots, Paracha is a Punjabi himself from his father's side.
In an interview given to Montreal's CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), Paracha blamed the Pakistani electronic media for being irresponsible in reporting acts of terrorism and political events and blamed it for bringing upon the 2007 Pakistani state of emergency imposed by President Pervez Musharraf on 3 November 2007. This left many of his critics in the media accusing Paracha's politics of gradually moving from being staunchly leftist; but he remains to be a firm advocate of secularism and continues to support the Pakistan Peoples Party as a journalist and former member.
In an interview with Voice of America he lambasted an Islamic Scholar who had earlier been interviewed by the same radio channel and claimed that music was not allowed in Islam because it promoted obscenity. Paracha responded by saying that at the moment there is nothing more obscene than a suicide bomber exploding himself in public. He said Islamic scholars should be more interested in condemning such kind of obscenity rather than waste time by attacking an art like music.
While talking to National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington, D.C., on 5 April 2010, Paracha came down hard on famous Islamic preacher and televangelist, Farhat Hashmi. He said people like Hashmi were culturally and socially destructive.
On the 12 of October, 2013, Paracha wrote a satirical piece for the website of Dawn newspaper in which he mocked conspiracy theorists who were criticizing Malala Yousafzai. However, some conservative news sites picked up the satire and presented it as factual news. The article went viral and Dawn had to put up a disclaimer reminding those who couldn't get the joke that it was a satirical piece.
Criticism of the media
Paracha has been extremely critical of the role of Pakistan's electronic media . Paracha accuses some of the leading privately owned Urdu channels of being "the middle-class face of jihadi/extremist philosophy and propaganda."
In a series of analysis and satirical pieces for Dawn (newspaper), Paracha has scathingly criticised TV personalities like Aamir Liaquat Hussain, Orya Maqbool Jan, Ansar Abbasi and Zaid Hamid for "holding masqueraded sympathies for Islamists".
Defending student hooliganism
Writing in his exclusive column for Dawn.Com, Paracha defended the actions of Peoples Students Federation (PSF), the student wing of the Pakistan Peoples Party, when some of the student organisation radicals disturbed an art exhibition in Karachi in April 2009. The PSF radicals were agitating against a montage that showed late Benazir Bhutto sitting on the lap of former Pakistani military dictator Zia ulHaq. Paracha asked "how could the exhibition organizers be so insensitively stupid?" Paracha who was once a leading member of the PSF at college in the late 1980s, wrote that the reaction of the PSF men was justified and that had he still been a PSF man, "I would have made my protest a tad more creative, but equally offensive. I would have gotten drunk, unzipped my jeans, peed on the floor and called it post-modernist protest satire!"
News, Views & Confused
The News question
Paracha quit writing for The News and started writing for the Daily Times Group, The Friday Times and Dawn newspaper. However, it is also believed that after disagreeing with The News editorial, he was asked to stop writing for The News.
- "Noted Pakistani Cultural Critic Examines the History of Anti-Americanism in Pakistan, Says It 'has Become an Obligatory Part of Populist Rhetoric in Which American Involvement is Blamed for Everything". The MEMRI Blog. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- "Bhutto and I". Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- Student Politics in Pakistan: A Profile – Chowk: India Pakistan Ideas Identities.com. Chowk. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- Nadeem F Paracha – Chowk: India Pakistan Ideas Identities.com. Chowk. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- "LUBP Exclusive: A critical interview with Nadeem F. Paracha". Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- wecite.net. wecite.net. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- "An Interview with Nadeem F. Paracha". Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- "New Age Islam - Mapping an Agenda for the Twenty-first Century". Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- http://www.deccanchronicle.com/dc-comment/veiled-attack-950[dead link]
- "With, within, without". Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- 1995jj-responseinstep – nadeemfparacha2. Nadeemfparacha.googlepages.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- » Questions about burning | The Dawn Blog | Pakistan, Cricket, Politics, Terrorism, Satire, Food, Culture and Entertainment. Blog.dawn.com (30 April 2009). Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- "The scholar, the sufi, and the fanatic" The Dawn blog, (31 December 2009). Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- Month of the Gun – Chowk: India Pakistan Ideas Identities.com. Chowk (18 October 2007). Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
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- [dead link]
- Religious Schools Court Wealthy Women In Pakistan. NPR (5 April 2010). Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- Pakistani satire of Malala conspiracy theories taken as real conspiracy theory. Washington Post (13 October 2010). Retrieved on 2013-10-14.
- Smokers corner: Revolutionary confetti, Dawn.com, 29 March 2009
- Programme for women empowerment | AAJ News. Aaj.tv. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- "The Friday Times: Pakistan's First Independent Weekly Paper". Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- [dead link]
- The Nadeem F. Paracha Work(s) Archive
- NFP Dawn Newspaper Articles Page
- NFP Dawn.com Page
- NFP Dawn Columns at PKColumns
- NFP Article Archives on New Age Islam
- War in Heaven (Atish Raj)
- Interview with Huffington Post
- Interview with Viewpoint
- LUBP Interview 2010
- Deutsche Welle Interview 2011
- Xpoze Magazine interview 2009
- WeCite.net interview 2006
- NFP Bandbaja Interview, 2003