By Minerwa Tahir KARACHI: The term, “liberal fascists”, is an oxymoron. Nadeem Farooq Paracha, Zarrar Khuhro and Fasi Zaka seemed to be on the same page about this as they had a discussion on satire at a session, titled ‘Reality Catches Up With Satire’, held on Day 2 of the 9th Karachi Literature Festival on...
By Minerwa Tahir
KARACHI: The term, “liberal fascists”, is an oxymoron.
Nadeem Farooq Paracha, Zarrar Khuhro and Fasi Zaka seemed to be on the same page about this as they had a discussion on satire at a session, titled ‘Reality Catches Up With Satire’, held on Day 2 of the 9th Karachi Literature Festival on Saturday.
When the floor opened for questions, a member of the audience asked the panelists to try mocking the “liberal fascists” and see how they respond. “A, I’m not a satirist,” said Khuhro. “And B, there’s no such thing as a liberal fascist,” quipped Paracha, with Zaka adding, “It’s an oxymoron.”
Khuhro went on to add that he isn’t fond of bashing any one group. “I’m an equal opportunity basher,” he said. Meanwhile, Zaka pointed out that Khuhro tries to maintain a balanced, fair bashing of the conservatives and the liberals alike. However, he said, he is not like that. “I will not go after the liberal side and that’s a different ideology I have. They are fewer in number,” joked Zaka. “And what’s ridiculous about them is that they advocate “Do not kill anybody”. I think that’s a great thing. It might seem ridiculous to the society.” He then said on a serious note, “The point [is] that if you’re a liberal, you can’t be a fascist,” he said. However, he pointed out a problem with some liberals. “Some progressives tend to have what is actually an anti-poor, anti-indigenous position. I think that’s wrong. But on the liberal side, they say that let everyone live their life. If that’s a fascist thing, then I’d say, oh, that’s just it.”
Before the session began, a large number of people had lined up on the stairs leading up to the hall where the discussion was to take place. It took at least 15 minutes of waiting on the stairs to get inside the hall, which was filled to its capacity when the session began. Those who couldn’t get a seat could be seen attending the discussion while standing or sitting on the floor of the hall.
Paracha was moderating the session while Khuhro and Zaka were the speakers. Introducing the participants, Paracha said that Zaka has written on his Twitter bio that he is a former captain of Pakistan Hockey. “Now, believe it or not, a lot of people actually take that seriously,” said Paracha. “I remember a few weeks ago or a few months ago, Fasi tweeted something and some people didn’t like what he tweeted. So one guy actually said, “I don’t agree with your tweet and it was because of players like you that the Pakistan Hockey team lost.”
Describing Khuhro, Paracha said he “excels in trolling the trolls so much so that the trolls start trolling themselves”.
“This is the ninth session on satire at KLF. I have hosted seven even though I’m sure Shahid Masood sahab would insist it’s 37. But I assure you it’s seven,” said Paracha.
Paracha asked the panelists if they face any pressure from their organizations over their satirical social media approach, to which Khuhro replied that the television management has given up on him. “They know that we cannot be fixed,” he joked. “Often people ask, can media be fixed. I do not even want media to be fixed. Because of all the blunders, I get automatic content. I want things to not only continue the way they are but to get much much worse.”
According to Khuhro, people often say that there was a time when society was tolerant. In reality, he said, they were always like this. It’s just that now you can hear everybody, he added.
Talking about social media, Paracha shared that he had blocked “14,000 a**holes”. He further wondered why the worst of all trolls have Imran Khan’s picture as their display pictures.
“We understand where these kids are coming from and that they are newly engaged in politics,” said Zaka. “The thing that bothers me is that there needs to be a realization now that there is a particular form of mob trolling that has led to a number of deaths. It is actually severely dangerous.” He mentioned Qandeel Baloch’s case.
During the hour-long discussion, the three men gauged quite some laughter and applause with their casual satirical remarks every now and then. While it was quite entertaining, the discussion offered insight into some serious issues in a subtle manner. In short, it served the purpose of satire.