Meeting at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Friday 5 December 2003:

Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy and a colleague had organised a meeting in a seminar hall at the Central Library, where Staffan Lindberg presented the activities of SASNET. The following persons attended:

Pervez Hoodbhoy, Prof. of Physics (photo to the right). Pervez Hoodbhoy. Dr. Hoodbhoy received his bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics, master's in solid state physics, and Ph.D in nuclear physics, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been a faculty member at the Dept. of Physics, Quaid-e-Azam University since 1973. Besides his professional capacity he is also one of the leading intellectuals of the country, writing articles on current affairs in Pakistani and International newspapers. He is chairman of Mashal, a non-profit organization that publishes books in Urdu on women's rights, education, environmental issues, philosophy, and modern thought. In 2003, Dr. Hoodbhoy was awarded UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for popularising science in Pakistan with TV serials, and his film ”The Bell Tolls for Planet Earth” won honourable mention at the Paris Film Festival. More information on Dr. Hoodbhoy, with links to his articles.
M. Zafar Iqbal, Prof. of Physics. He has interacted with Prof. Lars Samuelsson, Division of Solid State Physics, Lund Institute of Technology, Lund University. He also mentioned the IPPF programme at Uppsala, which had involved Pakistani researchers.
Umar S. Qurashi, Assistant professor of Physics
Arif Mumtaz, Assistant professor of Physics
S. Khurshid, Professor of Physics (Condensed matter)
Abid Hameed Toor, Assistant professor of Electronics
Naseer Ahmad, Professor of Business Administration, Department of Administrative Sciences
M. Mazhar, Professor of Chemistry
Muhammad Ishaq, Assistant professor of Chemistry
Razia Sultana, Assistant professor of History. She is a specialist on Afghan history.

After my presentation, we discussed the possibilities of sending PhD students to Sweden – a proposal put forward by Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman, Chairman of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), see our report from the meeting we had with with him at the HEJ Institute in Karachi.
There was considerable interest in this proposal. I made it clear that according to the Swedish university system PhD students will be recruited independently by each department, on merit and that having a good command of English (documented in the same way as when one applies for a International Masters course) will be necessary.
There was some experience of sending students for a masters course to Linköping University. Unfortunately, none of those students could continue on the PhD level, and the funding for new masters student for this programme had also stopped.

After 9/11 there is an increasing interest in studying in Europe, since it has become more difficult for Pakistani students to study in the US, and because several European countries opposed the attack on Iraq.
We also discussed the situation in Afghanistan. There was a strong concern about the volatility of the situation, the unholy alliance with warlord, the lack of proper Pashtun representation in the interim government, and the role of narcotics in the current economy of the country.
It was also claimed that the current approach to Afghanistan on account of the Western forces was piecemeal and not holistic. You cannot just export a particular kind of ‘democracy’ just like that. The use of narcotics in the financing of the Jehad war on the Soviet forces had also laid the foundation to the present difficulties to return to a normal economy. If anything, the Taliban at least had tried to control the narcotics economy during the government, the argument went.

There is currently a strong need to upgrade teaching and research at Pakistan universities. Two generations of students, trained under and after the Ziaul Haq era, have been educated in a traditional Islamic way, that is learning by heart various pieces of knowledge, but not to use this knowledge in a critical way.
The Higher Education Commission on its website, http://www.hec.gov.pk/, has announced 300 professorial positions for foreign academicians, but so far only about 80 have applied. Prof. Hoodbhoy sits in the committee to select among these applicants.

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Last updated 2008-10-21