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Friday, March 31, 2023

Rise of the “Leftist Mullahs” in Pakistan

Aamna Hassan Fasihi discusses how privileged women's enabling of misogynist men undermines years of effort towards empowering women. Such liberal leftists can be as extreme as the right-wing.

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It was around 1 am Sunday night that I was randomly scrolling through Twitter when I received a Direct Message  from a friend, saying:

“Did you see this? Idk but they are discussing you at 2:30.”

It was followed by a Youtube link. I opened it to find it was apparently the very problematic, self-proclaimed “comedian”, Shehzad Ghias’s youtube channel where he had invited the very vocal, and self-proclaimed feminist, Ms. Imaan Mazari Hazir, whose only claim to fame is her mother being the sitting minister of the ruling party of which Ms. Imaan is a critic.

Read more: Shireen Mazari seeks removal of Priyanka Chopra as UN Ambassador

At the said timestamp, Shehzad goes out to address one of my tweets by saying that my surname, Fasihi which is associated with a renowned Sufi saint Maulana Shah Muhammad Fasihi of Ghazipur, in Uttar Pradesh area of India from where my grandparents had migrated to Pakistan; apparently sounds like “Fahashi” (vulgarity/obscenity) to him.

This cheap innuendo was then followed by Imaan Mazari’s candid laughter, which apparently was quite hard for her to control.

This 30 seconds clip goes  to show what really is wrong with this country’s so called left-wing and why their politics doesn’t appeal to moderates/centrists like me.

The “liberals” of Pakistan

The self-proclaimed feminist, Shehzad Ghias has always been this misogynist and only thrived on sexist jokes as often seen in his stand-up comedy session videos circulating on social media so I don’t even expect a tiny bit of decency from him.

Read more: Firebrand Congresswoman calls out colleague for “sexist” slur

I had also very recently seen Imaan Mazari defending another vile journalist for his sleazy remarks for a female TV show host so I was also not surprised by her laughing at Shehzad’s cheap joke on me but I don’t know why I kind of expected better from her.

Given her progressive views for which I sometimes even defended and supported her and the mere fact that she is also a woman, I expected her to be slightly decent but I lost my mind when after candidly laughing at Shehzad’s cheap joke, she went on to lecture about how women must “rise above politics and personal lives.” Needless to say, she is not practicing what she preaches herself at all in that video.

Read more: Daughter of Shireen Mazari ‘back on’ Twitter after criticizing Pakistan Army

The problem over here is not just something personal. It’s part of a larger and rather complex issue. To the best of my knowledge, both Shehzad and Imaan belong to feudal backgrounds-or at least Imaan does as she belongs to the Mazari tribe.

This has probably contributed to their sense of entitlement which clouds their judgment and sight. They think of themselves as some superior beings and anyone lesser than them is a peasant whose own thought process or opinions are not well-received.

They have a problem with the middle-class making progress and they would stoop down to any level to dehumanize the middle-class if it starts taking the space of elites.

Read more: The Pseudo-liberals of Pakistan

That is the only justification that one can think of so as to why these people with foreign degrees who claim to be the “liberals” of Pakistan, cannot digest someone else’s freedom of speech and resort to petty name-calling.

The “Leftist Mullahs”

For me, the left-wing of Pakistan is no different than the right-wing. The “Leftist Mullahs” as I like to call them who are against a woman’s choice to wear modest clothing are just like the Right-wing Mullahs who think women should be burqa-clad.

Both these groups ridicule each other, when in fact being liberal or progressive means that a woman can wear whatever she likes.

Similarly, unlike the liberal norms of freedom of expression, peaceful co-existence, and “Live and let live”,  the “Leftist Mullahs” also have their own brand of imposing “fatwas” on those who disagree with them politically. It usually manifests in form of “Cancel culture” which is the leftist equivalent of “Wajib ul Qatal”, while in my case, it was blatantly name-calling me “Fahashi”.

Read more: The fiasco of social polarization in Pakistan

What seems problematic to me the most is how these “Leftist Mullahs” accuse the right-wing Mullahs to be misogynist while in principle, they themselves perpetuate misogyny when the women in question choose to exercise their freedom of speech and have different views than these “Leftist Mullahs”.

They have taken the “Good Taliban, Bad Taliban” analogy and come up with their own brand of such problematic hypocrisy; “Good Misogyny vs Bad Misogyny”.

Read more: Mahira Khan declares misogyny and sexual harassment acts of power abuse

One act undoing years of struggle

On one hand, there are women like myself who struggle against patriarchy each day as we go to public colleges, universities, or perhaps to our workplaces in order to earn and support our families financially.

Such women have reclaimed their rightful political space by campaigning for PTI and by also working as polling agents on election day.

Read more: Pakistan ranked among the worst five countries for women, WEF

Then there are those “drawing-room feminists”, the living epitomes of “Tokenism” with generational wealth and a parent as sitting Minister, who feel obliged to laugh hysterically over a cheap remark made by a sexist man just to appease his ego that he cracked a “hilarious joke”.

Such privileged women who would throw the already marginalized middle-class women under the bus to inflate a sexist man’s fragile ego are what undermines the cause of intersectional feminism especially in complex societies like Pakistan.

Their one act of enabling a misogynist man basically undoes years of struggle that genuinely empowered and strong women have done. They are the ones who need to either get rid of their internalized misogyny or stop disguising themselves as feminists.

Read more: ‘What freedom do they want’: Playwright Khalilur Rehman Qamar blasts feminists in Pakistan

The author is a social media activist and tweets at: @AamnaFasihi. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.