A surprise lunch with Dr Hoodbhoy

Me and my friend were settled at the university huts on a day when the university’s routine was called off and the students were a seldom sight to have. The recent student clashes had resulted in the closure of the activities and shutdown of the transportation system. Much to our remorse, most huts and shops were closed and the ones that were opened only offered eggs and bread.

While our research was going nowhere, I saw this person, wearing spectacles and a blue cotton shirt. The person looked familiar and a gut feeling grew that this person is none other than Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy. For some reason, instead of acting cool and ignoring the ‘celebrity’ I opted the otherwise. Now you must understand, approaching your idol, one feels the fear of rejection or embarrassment, which overshadows a real human start of conversation. I was thoroughly determined if anything, I must share salutations and express my honour to see and greet him in person, if lucky, get away with a selfie.

For me Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy is like our Noam Chomsky plus Bertrand Russell, of today. Known for his criticism of the HEC and hypocritical decisions by the politicians in the name of Islamic ideology, Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy is often shunned at the political talk shows for speaking out on basis of logic. Alas, his use of logic in assessment of reality is not something that’s reciprocated in the mainstream media.

So after we introduced ourselves to Dr Pervez, he offered us to join him for the lunch. We managed to discuss various issues ranging from student clashes to curriculum of education. Doctor sahib was wholly disappointed.

In his view, student clashes were a result of teaching hatred throughout the ages in shape of school curriculum.

In his view there is no ideology behind this brawl element which is even worse the retro student clashes of fundamentalist student organisations. There is no point of having universities if you don’t have the freedom to discuss or talk ideas in them. The universities all around the world are made to discuss ideas not bemoan people or kill them who have ideas. West has flourished because it was open to newer ideas to be discussed in their universities, while we, here in Pakistan, have idolised killers as heroes in our school education curriculum, such acts will only breed hatred infested students. Such brawls in universities may be present in places such as Afghanistan or like-underdeveloped but not in any sane and developed country.

I presented the point that that these violent elements had one principle at core, no matter what face they may have, a fundamentalist student organisation, student wing of a political party or an ethnic based student council, what they all crave for is the dominance in the academic estate, they fester upon the void left by the poor administration department of any educational institute or varsity, and profit for themselves along with certain benefactors within the hierarchy of university and those from the outside.

On this point, there was a reflection upon as to why Pakistan was fought-for by the Quaid-e-Azam, as to be left for the self-serving ruling elite from Muslim background, or else, the welfare of the Muslim community of the South Asia that was not only less educated but also backward in comparison to the non-Muslims at the time of partition.

By the time we were done with the lunch, some of the students council gathered around Doctor sahib, and rehearsed their point of view on the shutdown. Upon this Dr Pervez scolded the students over the irresponsible behaviour on their violent actions and advised them to avoid such acts in future.  He emphasised that enlightened university students must certainly not fight over ethnic issues. Instead they should be thinking of how to solve the larger problems of Pakistani society and so should be fighting for a just economic system and against all kinds of prejudice. At the same time, a student mentioned the council’s step to attend Mashal Khan’s chehlum, for which Dr Hoodbhoy appreciated their humanism.

On this point, students moved on, and Dr Pervez, upon accepting our gratitude, gave me the opportunity for taking a picture for the occasion, and subsequently left us in reminiscence of his generous memory.

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