hoodbhoy@MIT.EDU'

Pervez Hoodbhoy

Shahbag Square — why we Pakistanis don’t know and don’t care

Shahbag Square — where’s that? Abdul Kader Mullah — who’s he? A bunch of university students in Islamabad, with whom I was informally conversing yesterday, hadn’t heard of either. Of course, they knew of Tahrir Square and Afzal Guru’s recent execution. But they showed little interest upon learning that Shahbag Square was in Dhaka and…

Culture, Corruption and the Hereafter

Some readers, whose intelligence I respect, took my last op-ed to be dismissive of corruption as a cause of Pakistan’s social decay. I apologise for having failed to express myself adequately: I certainly do not dispute that Pakistan is reaping the terrible consequences of wholesale corruption. Corruption, by definition, expropriates that which rightfully belongs to…

Negotiate with the TTP?

  With their hands tied together, 21 abducted off-duty Levies personnel were lined up in a cricket ground near Peshawar on December 30, 2012, and then summarily executed. Negotiations conducted through village elders with TTP militants had failed after the militants refused ransom money. Instead, their demands were purely ideological: Pakistan must accept sharia law,…

Why Maulana Qadri and Cricketer Khan can’t save Pakistan

Pakistan has two angry messiahs, the Maulana and the Cricketer. Both are men of fine oratory — the former being more gifted. They promise to kick wicked leaders out of government, reward the righteous, and deliver a new Pakistan. Before a coup-plagued nation that has spent many decades under military rule, they preach to adulating…

The "Water Car" Fraud

Agha Waqar Ahmad deserves a medal from the people of Pakistan for his great service to the nation. In a few short days, he has exposed just how far Pakistan has fallen into the pit of ignorance and self-delusion. No practical joker could have demonstrated more dramatically the true nature of our country’s political leaders,…

How to spot the crackpot – pseudoscience in Pakistan

These days astonishing science claims abound in the media (there’s one fairly recent one in this newspaper too!). For example, a self-taught engineer in Swat claims he can “fix Pakistan’s energy problem in 3 years” by splitting water to produce free electricity. Last year, a Fellow of the Royal Society from Pakistan published an article…

Lal Masjid: Rewarding an Insurrection

The honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan says he is losing patience with the Capital Development Authority (CDA). In a court-initiated (suo motu) action, he wants a quick rebuilding of the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, flattened by bulldozers in 2007, after it became the centre of an insurgency. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by…

Free laptops is not the answer. What is?

To loud applause at a special distribution ceremony on Pakistan Day, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif declared: “We do not give weapons in the hands of youngsters, we give them laptops; we give them education”. The laptop scheme is the brainchild of kid brother Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab. He says that the Punjab government…

When Manmohan Singh comes to Islamabad

(Published: April 15, 2012: http://tribune.com.pk/story/365139/when-manmohan-singh-comes-to-islamabad/) The coincidence between President Asif Ali Zardari’s sprint to Delhi last week, and the $10 million head-money on Hafiz Saeed announced by the US could be purely accidental. But this action certainly refocused Indian attention on the alleged Mumbai attack planner, who heads the pantheon of jihadi “heroes” that now…