– Different perspective – The Baloch and Sindhis certainly believe that Pakistan should be more than an Islamic monoculture
By Raza Ahmed
Pervez Hoodbhoy is a familiar name among critics who see Pakistani society in the context of extremism and terrorism. A distinctively fierce critic of nuclear weapons and technology, Hoodbhoy is a professor of nuclear and high energy physics at the Department of Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He has delivered lectures at US and European research centres and universities. In addition to his BS, MS, and PhD degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he has received Baker Award for Electronics and Abdus Salam Prize for Mathematics.
He was awarded UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize in 2003 on science. The same year, he was invited to the Pugwash Council. He has also received the Joseph A. Burton Award from the American Physical Society.
His book, Islam and Science — Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality, has been translated into seven languages. Understandably, Hoodbhoy is one of the most sought-after commentator on nuclear and related issues today. Recently, TNS sat with Pervez Hoodbhoy and focused on various aspects of Pakistani state, society, and regional affairs. Excerpts follow. The News on Sunday: What, in your opinion, is the root cause of religious extremism-terrorism in Pakistan?
Pervez Hoodbhoy: It came from Pakistan’s foreign policy in the early 1980s. The US and Pakistan, with Saudi funding, created the deadly jihadist machinery after the USSR invaded Afghanistan. For over a decade, they armed, financed, and trained the mujahideen. Once the USSR withdrew and disintegrated, the infrastructure should have been disbanded. But then Pakistani generals, like Mirza Aslam Beg, decided to use jihadists to conquer Kashmir and establish strategic depth in Afghanistan. Those mujahideen, “assets” as they were called, are now slaughtering our soldiers and officers whenever and wherever they can.
TNS: Has Pakistan been misdirected because no political or intellectual input seems to have gone into policy making?
PH: Civilian and military governments are to be blamed for today’s catastrophic situation. Although he denies it now, let us remember that Nawaz Sharif was thick with Musharraf on Kargil and had accompanied him to visit the troops there. Our insistence on Kashmir being the number one problem is the cause of many of our sorrows. We did not realise that the well-being of Pakistan, and addressing the grievances of Balochistan and Sindh, is more important than liberating Kashmir from Indian occupation. …
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