Is the Check in the Mail?

The Confessions of a Groveling Pakistani Native Orientalist

By PERVEZ HOODBHOY       CounterPunch 14 Dec 2009

Here ye, Counterpunch readers! The victory of Native Orientalists – the ones which the late Edward Said had warned us about – is nearly complete in Pakistan. It has been led by “the minions of Western embassies and Western-financed NGOs” and includes the likes of “Ahmad Rashid, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Najam Sethi, Khaled Ahmad, Irfan Hussain, Husain Haqqani, and P.J.Mir”. Thus declares Mohammad Shahid Alam, a professor of Pakistani origin who teaches at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachussetts. [CounterPunch, 2 Dec 2009]

I ought to be thrilled. Now that I am a certified foreign-funded agent/orientalist/NGO-operator who “manages US-Zionist interests”, a nice fat cheque must surely be in the mail. Thirty six years of teaching and social activism at a public university in Pakistan – where salaries are less than spectacular – means that additions to one’s bank balance are always welcome.

But what did I do to deserve this kindness? My sole interaction with the good professor was in mid-2008, when we shared the speaker’s podium at the International Islamic University in Islamabad. Sadly, it was not terribly pleasant. 

But then these are not pleasant times. There is carnage in the streets. Blood flows down the gutters and body parts are strewn in bazaars and markets. Suicide bombers have also targeted mosques, funerals, and hospitals. The internet is filled with videos of Pakistan army soldiers being decapitated, pictures of separated heaps of limbs and heads of Shiites, and women writhing under the blows of heavy whips and chains. 

The Taliban, mostly from the mountains of Waziristan and other tribal areas of Pakistan, are not particularly shy to broadcast such achievements. For example, their decapitation movies – culminating in heads being stuck upon poles and paraded around town – are watched for free by kids. On 15 February 2009, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan announced a ban on all female education and, at last count, 362 schools have been blown up in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Curiously, these very people also happen to be the heroes of Professor Alam. This self-described “anti-imperialist” and “anti-Zionist” migrant to the heart of imperialism tends to become breathless in his celebration of the brave Taliban “resistance fighters”. At the meeting I mentioned above, he received ecstatic approbation from a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Khurshid Ahmad, who chaired the meeting. This praise is also apparent in what the professor writes:

“Yet, in one corner of Pakistan, resistance comes from the sons and daughters of the mountains, yet uncontaminated by western civilisation, firm in their faith, clear in their conviction, proud of their heritage, and ready to fight for their dignity…. They stood up against the Soviet marauders: and defeated them. Today, they are standing up again, now against the American marauders and their allies.”

Pakistan’s Mercenary Elites, by M. Shahid Alam, http://aslama.org/Pol/PolOctober92007.html

Unless the professor is physically infirm, may I suggest that he head for the mountains of Waziristan to help the Pakistani Taliban movement? Or give a helping hand to Al-Qaida, an organization also known for its benevolence? To be sure, he may miss the free lunches the American taxpayer provides to him, but surely there must be satisfaction to be had in strapping a madrassa lad with explosives aimed at a Pakistani bazaar – especially one frequented by unveiled women and brides-to-be.

Politeness aside, I do take serious personal offence on just one matter in his outbursts against the opponents of Al-Qaida and the Taliban. This is when the good professor invokes the name and authority of Edward Said, author of “Orientalism”, in condemning me and my colleagues in Pakistan.

Edward was my mentor and hero, the man who wrote a highly positive blurb displayed prominently on the backside of my book on Islam and science. He was also the closest friend of Eqbal Ahmad – my guru and dearest friend. With Eqbal, many were the pleasant evenings that we spent at Edward’s apartment on Riverside Drive, New York. When Eqbal died, Edward and I were both lost in grief. When Edward died in 2003, I defended him against a poisonous article published the next day in the Wall Street Journal by a notorious Islamophobe, Ibn Warraq. 

So cut it out, professor! Edward Said does not belong to the jihadists and their declared supporters – like you. He and Eqbal loathed their primitivism and utter ruthlessness, as well as their desecration of Islam. Please do not press him into your service.

On the contrary, Edward belongs to those of us on the Left who have worked for the Palestinians and their right to the lands on which they once lived, who keep fighting for justice and democracy in Pakistan, and who fervently opposed America’s immoral invasion of Iraq in the streets of Islamabad and elsewhere. Edward was a supreme secular humanist who would have no truck with fanatics of any faith.

I do not know all the “native orientalists” and “brown sahibs” that the professor lists. Perhaps he secretly hopes that they shall receive appropriate attention from jihadist groups. But I do know some of these “traitors” – and they are among the finest people around. A couple, in their youth, had fought against the Pakistan Army in the mountains of Baluchistan. Others have stoutly defended religious minorities and worked to protect civil rights, democracy, and human values.

Professor Alam: be assured that once the expected cheque arrives, I shall be happy to send you a one-way ticket from Boston to Peshawar, from where you will easily find your way to Waziristan. It shall be no less than business class, in appreciation of the services you render to your cause.

Pervez Hoodbhoy is chairman and professor at the department of physics, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

48 Comments

Filed under Islam, Islamism, Left, Pakistan, Taliban

48 responses to “Is the Check in the Mail?

  1. Ayesha

    I am really glad that Pervez Hoodbhoy wrote this piece. Shahid Alam is totally detached from the reality in Pakistan. Besides, putting Hoodbhoy, Sethi, Ahmad Rashid, PJ Mir, etc in the same “lobby” does not make any sense—they all stand for different things and have different outlooks. Hoodbhoy is a man of integrity but too much of a pacifist; Sethi is liberal and has a good stance on inter-provincial relations but never supported the lawyers’ movement and was pro-Musharraf; PJ Mir is just a moron who also happened to support Musharraf so I don’t see much connecting the various people Shahid Alam is referencing.

  2. AZW

    Aside from a rambling diatribe against every thing that Pakistan had done against the militancy, and the author’s fertile imagination to tie each and every Pakistani action to American servitude, let me quote the gem of M. Shahid Alam’s thoughts below:

    “Yet, Pakistan is not without hope. In one corner of Pakistan, that hope comes from the sons and daughters of the mountains, yet uncontaminated by ‘civilization,’ firm in their faith, clear in their conviction, proud of their heritage, and ready to fight for their dignity. Though unschooled, they are clear-eyed as the eagle of the mountains. Their poverty steels their determination. They stood up against the Soviet marauders: and defeated them. Today, they are standing up again to reclaim their dignity and their lands from foreigners and native mercenaries”

    Let Dr. Alam visit Mingora, Buner as the brave and clear eyed sons were slaughtering Pakistani police force, supposed fornicators and self proclaimed Pakistani agents. The same brave ones were proclaiming that imposing Sharia by force was a religious duty, and Pakistani constitution needed to be abolished. Let Dr. Alam admire the brave soldiers of Allah as they were slaughtering Shias in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and as their Jihad was waged across the world from Indonesia to Kenya to Madrid, mostly against the unarmed civilians. And now as they valiantly enter the mosques and shopping malls in Pakistan and target men, women and children in their religious zeal, and everything that Pakistan stands for. Dr. Alam must be congratulated for his astute observations.

    For his distaste with American machinations, and his admiration for Mujahideen sons, our dear Professor seems to be at a grossly wrong place at the Northeastern University in… the United States. I am a bit surprised that someone with such a vehemant distaste for the US and it toadies, and high admiration for a savage Medieval mentality seeped in religious ignorance that goes against the very grain of the society D. Alam lives in, what is our dear Professor doing in the US. Rather then we wait for Dr. Hoodbhoy’s Israeli cheque, I offer to send Dr. Alam a one way ticket to Peshawar now, from where I am sure he would have a short hop to Waziristan, away from all American toadies, and in the company of the much admired clear eyed sons.

  3. Milind Kher

    @AZW,

    Philosophies like those of Dr Alam are retrograde and moribund. Fascists like the Taliban and their ilk will be consigned to the dustbin of history just like dictators of the kind of Saddam Hussein and Idi Amin (though these were not religious fanatics at all).

    Once there is a true awakening, civilized society will stand up as a man to condemn these bloodthirsty brutes.

    Keep up the good work. I am sure the more you persevere, the more people will start believing in a positive philosophy

  4. Kamran

    Good One Dr sb.

  5. PMA

    “Ahmad Rashid, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Najam Sethi, Khaled Ahmad, Irfan Hussain, Husain Haqqani, and P.J.Mir”.

    I have not seen the original article by Professor Mohammad Shahid Alam, but like Ayesha (December 16, 2009 at 5:37 am) I too was surprised to see all these names lumped together. Professor Hoodbhoy is a scholar more in the mold of Eqbal Ahmad than either journalist like Najam Sethi or Ahmad Rashid. And Hussain Haqqani. How did he get in the list.

  6. Anwar

    Good rebuttal Pervez….

    To read Shahid Alam’s original article, check the web site counterpunch.org. He is opposite pole of Dershowitz with same intensity and is influenced more by Finklestein than by Edward Said…

    His extreme “anti-imperialist” stance is a relatively new phenomenon and it may be a reaction to right-wing web sites that target academics who openly question US policies in the ME. Perhaps “enemy of my enemy is my friend” is what lead him to kiss the Talibans (my guess).

    However, I have been reading him for several years and I noticed that his increasing anger at US foreign policy eventually deteriorated his objective scholarship. Hope he recovers, focuses on his specialization of economics instead and excels.

  7. Milind Kher

    I think the anger at the US foreign policy has grown ever since direct military presence of the US started in the region.

    However, if the Afghan army and Pakistani army had kept militants in check from the beginning, the US may not have needed to step in at all.

  8. Hayyer

    “I have been reading him for several years and I noticed that his increasing anger at US foreign policy eventually deteriorated his objective scholarship. Hope he recovers, focuses on his specialization of economics instead and excels.”

    Scholarship had nothing to do with the piece. It was not a polemic, not even an apologia. This was unabashed promotion of fundamentalists, presented as noble savages. Whatever the Professor’s public persona is, and I had not heard of him before, he is now revealed as a closet Islamist.

  9. Anwar

    Hayyer;
    Precisely!

  10. Milind Kher

    If educated people like Shahid Alam are also defending the TTP and Al Qaeda, then it is a very difficult situation.

    At least the intellegentsia needs to have a balanced approach.

  11. Milind Kher

    Sorry, that should read intelligentsia.

  12. aliarqam

    Mr. Aalam is daydreaming….
    It reminds me of the Character of a bollywood movie
    “jane Tu Ya Jane Na” , where the lead guy, a fresh graduate, who is not aware of his father’s history as a horse rider and warrior and in his dreams he see himself as riding a horse and a sword in his hands.
    Its just his fantacies living in the midst of western culture and admiring sons of the mountains…..

  13. aliarqam

    Dr. Parvez Hoodbhoy….We admire U for ur integrity and Uare a source of fascintion for us….
    It reminds me of late Qami sb’s verse

    Umr bhar Ta’ana zani kertey Rahe Ehle Watan
    Yeh alag baat hai dafnain gey Ezaaz K Sath..

  14. Ali Abbas

    In one tv show on GEO that was hosted by Hamid Mir, Pro Taliban establishment lackey, Imran Khan, when unable to make a logical arguement, openly accused Prof. Hoodbhoy of being an American agent. The middle class intelligensia of Pakistan is seriously deluded and with the rare exception, would rather lynch elected leaders than critisize the Taliban. Many of them are closet Talibans and the more are on their way. Some use irrelevant and selective leftist interpretations to portray the Taliban as modern day Sadinistas and are engaging in a fashionable anti-Americanism. The hypocracy and mental gymnastics of their reasoning is mind boggling.

  15. Ayesha

    @ Ali Abbas

    Do you know that during the commercial break of the show you reference, Imran Khan was so outraged at his own inability to counter Pervez Hoodbhoy that he tried to punch him. According to Dr. Hoodbhoy (yes, I heard this from the horse’s mouth), boxing lessons in his childhood came in handy when he blocked him.

  16. PM

    This is a “With us or against us moment for Pakistani elite”. Westernization elite have had enough time on helm of affairs and situation is all for see. What is way forward? America along with India is knocking at front door and PTT is tearing down the back door. Why is it that a civil discourse is impossible? Shahid Alam is angry and so is my good physicist Hoodbhoy. Name calling will not get anywhere.

    In social context, where did Taliban come from? I know the standard answer, the Madrassas. Why these people disconnect from larger society? The real answer is that the elite ignored a large segment of population in education and economic opportunity. A part of this population saw that criminal mafias have done very well and some of them have attained status in power structure. PTT is newest of mafias and they want a share. This problem is common to most countries with large populations and limited natural resources. Global capital system has no solution for this problem except use of force. It has reduced labor migration, making the problem acute. Time for Laissez-faire economics is over. This not to say that labor has no value, but we need to invest in education and training as a society.

    There are things positive which need to be mentioned. The move towards rule of law as reflected in decision on NRO; free press to identify the issues of the day; the army stepping back from controlling the government; and greater funding for education.

  17. Ayesha

    @ PM

    Without for a minute defending the follies of the elite in Pakistan, I must ask you how you can claim that simply lack of economic opportunity and lack of education resulted in this. I agree it contributed and I don’t think anyone, even from the elite would be stupid enough to deny that, but that is clearly not the root cause, otherwise all other countries in the third world with similar issues would have a taliban faction—-they do not; we do. What gives?

  18. PM

    Ayesha,
    There are insurgencies in Africa, South America and even in India. The name may not be Taliban but they are there. You miss out the core argument I make which is the revenge of masses left behind in economic struggle. You don’t want to recognize it as root cause then it is on you to come up a solution.

  19. Sameet

    @PM,
    “…There are insurgencies in Africa, South America and even in India”and “The real answer is that the elite ignored a large segment of population in education and economic opportunity.”

    Cant say about Africa and South America, but India doesn’t qualify in your framework. Let’s analyze:
    1) Kashmir–Not about lack of economic opportunity-Kashmir GDP per capita almost equal to India’s average;

    2) North-East Insurgencies-Again, not about economic opportunity or lack of education-North Eastern states have very high literacy and almost everybody speaks English (due to strong convent education and Christianity influence);

    3) Maoist Insurgency–The tribals want to be part of the Indian “system” but movement hijacked by criminal rabidly communist elements. I can assure you the peasants of central India are not one bit happy to see the power lines and buses being blown by these Maoists!

  20. Ali Abbas

    @ Ayesha,

    I was aware of it and asked those who informed me to send a link. However, you are the first who knows Prof. Hoodbhoy to have heard it first hand. Thanks for the verification.

    His legendary cricketing abilities and commendable work regarding the establishment of SKMT stand as piognant reminders of the positive aspects of Imran and starting from the mid-90’s, his political views and exploits have consistently disappointed.

  21. PM

    Sameet,
    I’m glad everybody in India is happy.
    “I can assure you the peasants of central India are not one bit happy to see the power lines and buses being blown by these Maoists!” therefore, they commit suicide. Give it time…

  22. Sameet

    @PM,

    You havent still addressed the anomaly I referred to in the point you made in your earlier post. Anyway, if the central Indian peasants commit suicide by consuming rat poison, better they just kill themselves rather than take 20-30 other with them a la Multan or DI Khan or Moon Market.

  23. Sameet

    Sorry, should have been DG Khan in earlier post of mine, not DIKhan

  24. PM

    Sameet,
    Pakistan is paying the price for Laissez-faire attitude and no doubt there are corrections required.
    I’ll take your suggestion of offering rat poison to despondent masses to higher ups. You may yet win Noble prize for peace.

  25. Sameet

    PM,

    Clever retort, enjoyed it🙂 How much prize money would the Nobel have….am more interested in it than the title really😉

  26. PM

    Sameet,
    If you could write a detailed proposal, I promise to forward it to Noble committee but would require vetting by PM Singh for consideration; seriously.

  27. Sameet

    PM,

    Despondent masses have been there in this world since time immemorial and they will be in future too, going by how the world is right now. That simply isn’t a justification to blow up women shopping for clothes in Peshawar. And I tried to highlight that. Your “root cause” theory doesn’t hold water as far as India is concerned.

  28. PM

    Sameet,
    I hope you don’t take my comments to heart. I have great respect for Indians most of the time. They used to be some of my best friends before they exploded that bomb.

  29. PM

    Sameet,
    Please don’t put words in my mouth. Where did I say that anybody is justified in killing innocent people. I would be the first to serve them rat poison when those cowards show their face.

  30. Sameet

    PM,

    1)Which bomb are you talking about? Sorry, so many bombs have exploded nowadays that its difficult to keep track.

    2) They used to be friends? What happened, do tell.

    3) Appreciate your replies and posts on different topics. Am here to try to gain knowledge and enhance my rather rudimentary analyzing skills.

  31. Sameet

    PM,

    Sorry, should have been clearer. You by no means said they were justified to kill. And you are funny with the rat poison reference, I will laugh with you on that one🙂
    You did attribute certain causes that leads to certain situations that leads to circumstances that leads to them killing, and all I did was deny that as a cause in the Indian context, thats all.

  32. PM

    Sameet,
    I won’t belabor Indian situation too much, perhaps they are more tolerant of social inequity and caste system. May Laxami Devi be with you.

  33. Sameet

    PM,

    You are right, the Indians are tolerant, but only for 5 years at most. After that they go to the nearest school, ink a piece of paper, put that paper in a box and bring down a government. And they take great pleasure in doing that.
    Anyway, we are digressing, this post was about Hoodbhoy’s article and we should stick to that.

  34. vajra

    @PM, Sameet

    Pardon me for butting into a private conversation, but it occurred to me that sometimes our discussions might be a little more realistic if there were a map open in front of us.

    Regarding Maoist insurgency, at the risk of being permanently banned from posting on PTH for solicitation, you might like to read my father’s book, “The Crimson Agenda”. Although I deplore the title, it is actually two books stapled into one, a racy account of the Naxalite insurgency in Calcutta in the late 60s and early 70s, and a rather more didactic discussion on where the insurgency has gone since then. It is uncannily accurate and on target with regard to today’s situation.

    Coming to today’s situation, considering the congeries of factions that the CPI (ML) broke into after the all-out police assault on them in the mid- or late-70s (not to be confused with the Calcutta-centric campaigns by either side), the movement is influential in a wide belt:

    Scattered tracts of western Bihar and eastern UP;
    Most of Jharkhand;
    Most of Chhatisgarh;
    Extensive parts of the region broadly known as Vidarbha, the eastern portions of Maharashtra, especially centred around Gadchiroli;
    Contiguous portions of Orissa next to Jharkhand (in the north), Chhatisgarh (west and south) and Andhra Pradesh (south);
    Contiguous portions of Andhra Pradesh such as Warangal and Khammam, but with elements in the Chittoor area as on the opposite (Rayalaseema) border with Karnataka, especially the Pavagada (Pavaguda) enclave.

    The multi-pronged thrust from Orissa, southern Jharkhand and central Jharkhand into neighbouring areas of Bengal is not taken into account in this overview.

    Just to remind ourselves, my understanding, without referring to the literature and purely from memory, is that the farmer suicides were extensive in Maharashtra, largely in the Vidarbha area, on the border of the Naxalite/Maoist areas; also in Andhra, in Telengana, some of whose districts were worst afflicted by drought.

    This does not overlap very well with the areas which have seen Maoist insurgency at its most active. Perhaps the prize committee should wait for a more concise definition, and for some clarity regarding the extent and breadth of a ‘Central Indian’ peasant.

    Please correct this if it is wrong, preferably with citations.

    Another set of anomalies lies in the implied distribution of power lines and mobile telephone transmission towers through the Maoist-intensive localities, and with regard to claims made of the popular dissatisfaction with assaults on these. First, these power-lines and mobile towers are thinly placed and widely scattered in Maoist-intensive areas, which are largely scrub-forest or rather more dense forest. These are not wide agricultural plains at all; more like scattered jungle clearings, more extensive at the borders, less and less to be found in the forest interiors. Second, there may be resentment of the Maoist destruction of common services and facilities, but for obvious reasons, this resentment is kept well-concealed.

    I hope that this brief description brings some reality to the otherwise very witty discussion that we have enjoyed.

  35. PM

    Vajra,
    Thanks for good info. Could you touch on social structure and what motivates the insurgents.

  36. Majumdar

    Vajra,

    I reckon the Naxalite belt largely coincides with the distribution of tribal population across Central India. The major exception wud be the Magadh region of Bihar where the main sympathisers of the movement are Dalit and extremly backward caste folks (mainly landless labour or marginal farmers).

    Regards

  37. Majumdar

    PM,

    Can’t vouch for why the leaders are in this but there is a real grievance among the tribals who are the main combatants. Their land, forests and water are being usurped by mining companies (facilitated in part by the high global prices and also growing industrialisation in India) without any meaningful compensation to the tribals. This is providing a source of recruits to the Naxalites. In turn Naxals are able to bully the mining companies to provide them protection money which supports their army.

    But I guess Vajra wud be able to answer this question far more satisfactorily.

    (Btw are you Patrick Masih from chowk)

    Regards

  38. PM

    Majumdar,
    I rarely go to Chowk because there is too much name calling. I’m identified as Matrix out there.

    My position on insurgencies is that they tend to develop after a segment of population gets rich from a period of rapid economic growth and there is no mechanism to redistribute wealth. There are some additional factors. Use of force only worsens the situation. It is better to share some wealth to weaken the motivation.

  39. PMA

    “Where did Taliban come from and why these people disconnect from larger society?”

    PM, you have raised (December 17, 2009 at 2:19 am) some very pertinent questions. With “America along with India knocking at our front door and PTT tearing down the back door why is it that a civil discourse is impossible?”

    The real culprit is the greedy, selfish, self-absorbed, self-serving and self-conserving Upper Middle class of our society. Spend a day in any Upper Middle class household in Pakistan and you will see and experience the economic divide and deprivation first hand. For every Master there is an army of poor and malnourished Servants running all over the compound. The servants children grow up to be servants and masters children grow up to be masters. You are right when you say that the real answer is that the elite of our society have ignored and deprived a large segment of the population in providing education and economic opportunities.

    I agree with you (December 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm) that “insurgencies tend to develop after a segment of population gets rich from a period of rapid economic growth and there is no mechanism to redistribute the wealth. There are some additional factors. Use of force only worsens the situation. It is better to share some wealth to weaken the motivation.”

    Unfortunately those in power learn the hard way.

  40. Sameet

    @Vajra,

    PM mentioned suicide by peasants in one of his earlier posts. I was too lazy to tell him that is in the news in Vidarbha while Maoists are prevalent a little to the east, and the issues are quite different.

    @Majumdar,
    “Their land, forests and water are being usurped by mining companies (facilitated in part by the high global prices and also growing industrialisation in India) without any meaningful compensation to the tribals”

    I hail from Western Orissa, around a diamond rich region, with De Beers already having secured mining concessions all over and the tribals (65% of the population of the district) extremely disturbed at the prospect, the situation is pretty much what you have described. In my district, the tribals havent taken to arms…..yet.

    My prognosis IMHO is that the insurgency will not succeed. What is the alternative the maoists are peddling? A unworkable peasant’s paradise? It didn’t succeed in Brazil, why will it succeed here? No insurgency in post independent India has succeeded (Kashmir, Khalistan, North East, take your pick), and considering the geo-political locus of the Maoists, chances of them succeeding are minimal. It will play itself out and at the end of the day the tribals will wear a shirt and a trouser and cycle to the nearest town for work.

  41. Sameet

    @Vajra,

    What do you think is the end-game for the Maoists?

  42. vajra

    @PM

    That is a logical follow-through, and I should have anticipated it. I didn’t. There is no difficulty in providing the analysis you have sought from an extremely anecdotal, academically relaxed point of view, but conditions apply.

    Are you Pakistani? If not, I would like to suggest to you that two persons, neither Pakistani, discussing issues not clearly connected to Pakistan, really ought to be taking their discussion off to a private e-mail or an Indo-centric blog. It is to be hoped that you will readily grasp the logic.

    I await your response.

    @Majumdar

    Almost precisely so.

    On a personal front: see how easy it is not to call me Babu Vajrangi and so how easy not to irritate the hell out of me?😀

    @Sameet

    :-((
    How could you?

    PM mentioned suicide by peasants in one of his earlier posts. I was too lazy to tell him that is in the news in Vidarbha while Maoists are prevalent a little to the east, and the issues are quite different.


    You made me write all that because you were too lazy?

    I would like to go systematically on the two points raised by you: but again, I have a jurisdictional objection. To quote myself, two persons, neither Pakistani, discussing issues not clearly connected to Pakistan, really ought to be taking their discussion off to a private e-mail or an Indo-centric blog…

    In this case, too, I await your response.

  43. Sameet

    @Vajra,

    “Anyway, we are digressing, this post was about Hoodbhoy’s article and we should stick to that”

    This is what I said, long, long ago🙂

  44. Sameet

    Any Indo-centric blog that you know of where we can discuss these very interesting subjects?

  45. yasserlatifhamdani

    Edward Said would be spinnin’ to see how his “orientalism” has been misappropriated by Islamist right wingers.

  46. PM

    YLH
    Let me lay out a broad outline of analytical structure. Most of sociological analysis started with Karl Marx theory of capital and labor. In that sense, all sociological analysis is leftist. On the right the position is that best results are to be obtained by Laissez-faire. Since the demise of USSR, the intellectuals of the left are in a quandary. Thus you have all kinds of neos creating confusion and mayhem all over the place. Left always work thru state power and that is what neo-conservatives have done. PPP is tried to do it but it is failing because it bereft of intellectual honesty and vision.

    The need of the hour is to come out with humanist construct which is inclusive of economic, social, security considerations. I consider religion as default position which societies take as defensive mechanism.

    Dr. Hoodbhoy should broaden his horizon beyond those exact equations of physics.

    I have enjoyed give and take with a number of you but I don’t have time for private conversation. See you on other topics.

  47. Hmmm. I suggest Prof Hoodbhoy, a non-Pashtun, has less grasp of the Pathan mindset in FATA than Alam and in his invitation for Alam to visit Wazirstan made me cackle with laughter. No Punjabi dares enter FATA or has rarely done so for many years. Even Europeans are more welcome there nowadays. So, I’d say, Hoodbhoy, in his musty Islamabad University office, has as muchy understanding of the situation in the tribal areas as a non-Pakistani living a thousand miles away. Fact is, Taliban are seen by majority in FATA as leading a generalised Pashtun resistance movement, like it or not.

  48. Mumtaz Ahmad

    Since I was responsible for inviting both Dr. Shahid Alam & Dr. Hoodbhy for the 2008 conference on “Revisiting the Islam & Modernity Debate” organized by the Iqbal International Institute for Research & Dialogue of the IIU-I, I must say Dr. Hoodbhoy was most gracious and polite in his response to Dr. Alam’s totally un-called for personal attacks on the former. Dr. Hoodbhoy was our guest speaker in another panel as well in which, despite my disagreement with some of his views, I said that few of us could match the work that Dr. Hoodbhoy has been doing for human rights, freedom of thought, religious freedom, and peace. Dr. Hoodbhoy is the foremost public intellectual of Pakistan and we are all enriched by his ideas and activism. And not in my wildest dream I would bracket him with those whose names appear in Dr. Alam’s article.