By Nauman Hassan
Many people would agree that over the last couple of decades, Pakistan has seen a sharp upswing in demagoguery. Be it politics, media or spheres of knowledge, demagogues resiliently abound. The dictionary defines a demagogue to be the “one who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument”. In his article Hoodbhoy is making an argument that we should forget about research and focus only on teaching in our universities. He is suggesting that there is a Professors’ mafia which is responsible for poor teaching because they engage in poor research. Such an argument coming from a professor is rather juvenile and laughable. Everyone knows that there can be no scholarship without research. If there is no research, there are no scholars. Hence, it can be safely concluded that Hoodbhoy does not want to see scholars in this country. It is high time that he learns rather late in his career that we only teach what we find through research. Textbooks are also researched. His faulty argument besides, there are wider implications of a liberal agenda that our country is facing. Such line of argumentation reminds one of John Pilger’s works on democratic fascism.
Every Pakistani knows that the syllabi in our educational systems have being tempered with by the authorization of the successive civil governments for quite some time now. For example, in one of our elite schools, the fourth grade Islamic study book was authored by a Hindu writer. Many other examples of this phenomenon exist for which we do not have time to delve into here. Let us connect the dots now… If our syllabi are being twisted to make them compatible with the false narratives of the empire, which are based on utter lies and Hoodbhoy wants to kiss goodbye to research which is necessary to produce the counter narrative to the false narratives, then we can only feed our children lies that come from research active India and the West, while we will not be allowed to engage in any research in an effort to produce a counter narrative to the false narratives. In other words, it will be similar to a boxing match between two players, where one of boxer’s hands are tied behind his back and the other one is free to throw punches.
It is true that there may be mafia like bureaucracies that have made academic life of professors, and also students, quite miserable. But this is not a professors’ mafia. This is a mafia who wants to stunt the growth of humanities and social sciences on the logic that we only need hard sciences for technological progress. The so-called hard science people should bear in mind that the counter narrative to the false narratives of the empire and its minions are not going to come from physics and chemistry but from literature, history, religious studies, psychology and various social sciences. If you stunt the growth of Humanities and Social Sciences, you foreclose any possibility of a counter narrative. We have reasons to believe that such bureaucracies and Mr. Hoodbhoy may have the same master.
Hoodbhoy cannot be taken seriously because he is a demagogue who does not make rational arguments. From his poorly written articles in the newspapers, one can only conclude that he is a loyal and humble servant of the empire and the empire’s minion, India. Also, from many conferences, we have observed that Hoodbhoy is philosophically atheist who is allergic to Islam and Muslims and constantly publishes seditious material against the primordial values of Pakistani people which happen to be based on the Islamic tradition. He hates the state as well as the military. He writes about themes that would corrupt the values on which our social and spiritual order is built. A few years ago, he wrote an article on how Pakistanis need to give up thinking in terms of honor and become what he called ‘proudly beghairat’ (dishonorable). One young lady responded to his article by writing a scathing critique of his sillyarticle.
Let it also be known that Hoodbhoy was kicked out of LUMS a few years ago. LUMS did not renew his contract because he was hired to teach physics but he was busy ‘teaching’ in department of Humanities and Social Sciences and dealt with his subject from anti-Islamic point of view. He is known to have rarely attended his office hours and did not keep a minimal presence a ‘teaching professor’ is supposed to keep. Subsequent to his termination from LUMS, he wrote in the newspaper that LUMS is on the verge of a fundamentalist take over, which was completely baseless. LUMS is still the way it ever was and there is no threat of any fundamentalist take over.
Of course we will never take his advice to roll back our research plans from a pseudo academic who is neither excellent in teaching, nor research. It is true that our research suffers in quality, but it is imperative that we not jettison our research, but increase its quality. In our tradition, research is called tahqeeq. Tahqeeq is linked to haq (whats Right and whats the Truth). My advice to Pakistanis: ignore the demagogues and hold on to the pole of knowledge for which tahqeeq is necessary at all levels in society. We should sharpen our nations’ professionals research skills at all levels, and give our scholars a direction which is unified enough to give a counter narratives in academic and the mass media.