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  Home>> Reviews of COSS Publications
  Reviews of COSS Publications



 Reviews of COSS Publications

COSS publications have been received well by the social scientist community. Placed below are reviews of COSS publications appeared in Journals and newspapers

Social Sciences in Pakistan: A Profile

Review by Faiz Bilquees

Review by Kuldeep Mathur

Review by Vivek Kumar

Review by Mohammad Waseem

Journal Debate

Ideology and Education

Book Review Dr.Anis Alam, Lahore School of Economics

Associations of Social Scientists: An Analytical Study

Review by Dr. Tariq Rahman

Social Science in Pakistan in 1990s

Review by Dr. Tariq Rahman

Review by Vivek Kumar


Social Sciences in Pakistan: A Profile edited by  Inayatullah, Rubuna Saigol and Pervez Tahir, Islamabad,  Council of Social Sciences,2005, 512Pp.

Review by Faiz Bilquees Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad, Pakistan Development Review (PDR), Spring 2004, Vol. No. 43, No. 1

Commissioned by the Council of Social Sciences (COSS), this volume evaluates the seventeen social sciences departments in the public universities in Pakistan for a given set of parameters. The social sciences departments or the topics covered in this volume and their respective authors include: Teaching of International Relations in Pakistani Universities (Rasul Bakhsh Rais); Development of the Discipline of Political Science in Pakistan (Inayatullah); The Development of Strategic Studies in Pakistan (Ayesha Siddiqa); The State of Educational Discourse in Pakistan (Rubina Saigol); Development of Philosophy as a Discipline (Mohammad Ashraf Adeel); The State of the Discipline of Psychology in Public Universities in Pakistan: A Review (Muhammad Pervez and Kamran Ahmad); Development of Economics as a Discipline in Pakistan (Karamat Ali); Sociology in Pakistan: A Review of Progress (Muhammad Hafeez); Anthropology in Pakistan: The State of [sic] Discipline (Nadeem Omar Tarar); Development of the Discipline of History in Pakistan (Mubarak Ali); The Discipline of Public Administration in Pakistan (Zafar Iqbal Jadoon and Nasira Jabeen); Journalism and Mass Communication (Mehdi Hasan); Area Studies in Pakistan: An Assessment (Muhammad Islam); Pakistan Studies: A Subject of the State, and the State of the Subject (Syed Jaffar Ahmed); The State of the Discipline of Women’s Studies in Pakistan (Rubina Saigol); Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies (Moonis Ahmar and Farhan H. Siddiqi); and Linguistics in Pakistan: A Survey of the Contemporary Situation (Tariq Rahman).

The parameters of assessment include the changes in the number of departments in each discipline, staff strength over time as well as their qualifications—PhD., MPhil, and MSc, local or foreign, theses written by students, teaching of research methodology, interdisciplinary orientation, journals available/issued to users, quality and number of publications by teachers and students, etc. The evaluation period is 1963-2003. The objective of this study is twofold: to provide an in-depth understanding of a particular discipline and to provide material for developing an overall picture of social sciences in the country. The result indeed is one of the most candid pen-pictures of the state of education in Pakistan’s public sector universities. The reader can also feel the anguish of the authors over the state of affairs in their respective disciplines.

It is clearly shown that despite considerable increases in the number of disciplines introduced and the number of teachers in the social sciences, the quality of output ranges from low to average. The academic environment is completely devoid of any debate and development of new ideas. Such an environment emerges from the fact that history, philosophy, and political science, which are important subjects for an understanding of the state, the society, the culture, and the institutions, have seen a fall, while business and administrative education have risen rapidly. This phenomenon is associated with the pressure towards employment-oriented education rather than one that engenders thoughtfulness and reflection. Neither the government nor the private sector is investing in the disciplines neglected. The review of all the disciplines in this book shows that the current environment is not conducive to the development of original thinking, new ideas or innovative concepts. However, the authors of the chapters on Economics and Business Administration appear to be relatively less dissatisfied with the situation in their disciplines.

In the case of Economics, good interaction and research among economists is highlighted as strong points of this discipline. But the research activity reported refers only to the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, or the Pakistan Society of Development Economists based at the same Institute. It is noteworthy that the situation of research in the departments of Economics in public universities is not significantly different from that of other disciplines as described in this chapter. The rapid progress of Business Administration is highlighted by the author, without observing that the universities do not have sufficient full-time faculty. In the Quaid-e-Azam University, for example, some groups of students have only one full day of class (the rest of the week is off) while others are taught in the late hours by part-time faculty.

Thus, recession in the education sector over the past 55 years raises serious concerns about the future of the present generation subjected to this system. The irony is that the relatively less fortunate, who have no choice but to go for public sector education in Pakistan, are subject to this thoughtless process of education.

Development of two subjects, viz., history and philosophy, would train people to ask questions and generate a social critique. Reading the chapter on the discipline of history, for example, one sees how national identity has become the monopoly of the state. The author, Mubarak Ali, describes in great detail how the government uses and abuses history to create a narrow and homogenised sense of identity. As a result, history as it is now simply refers to a dead and useless past; history as a critical social subject arousing debate has ceased to exist. In the case of philosophy, the basic subject that has generated new ideas about all aspects of human existence, the subject has been taken over by new departments that teach how to earn quick profit. The closing down of departments of philosophy has had the effect of shifting philosophy teachers to departments of education and sociology.

It is argued that low wages, limited facilities, large class sizes, and heavy workload leave no time or incentive for teachers to think, explore new areas or develop innovative approaches to their subjects. The majority of the teachers take their profession as any other job, and any research carried out is intended simply to meet the criteria for promotions rather than to generate new thinking or debate on issues. Similarly, the students are mainly focused on acquiring a quick degree leading to a good job with minimum effort. Both the faculty and students appear to be completely devoid of any desire to do in-depth research, or to explore original theses and new ideas.

Almost all the authors in this volume lament the fact that seminars and conferences are quite farcical if judged by international standards. Interaction among faculties and opportunity for students to take interdisciplinary courses are minimal or without content.

The level of facilities in social disciplines is seen to be extremely low. Libraries are ill-equipped both in terms of books and journals, and computer facilities are very limited. All this is mainly the result of very low investments in education in general and in the social sciences in particular. It is evident from this profile that a large number of new disciplines have been introduced in many universities without due consideration to the availability of appropriate faculty and basic facilities. As a result, they are being run largely by untrained though socially influential people with contacts, as in the Defence and Strategic Studies, Women’s Studies, etc.

Chapter 18, "Contribution of the NGOs to Social Science Research in Pakistan", by Anwar Shaheen, describes the contribution of the NGOs to Social Science Research in Pakistan. This is an important chapter that shows the role played by NGOs in highlighting the issues facing the society in general and women in particular. It rightly points out that although the publications of these NGOs are not strictly research publications, they play a very important role in disseminating information at all levels. This information is vital in a society like Pakistan where resourceless, powerless people are assumed not to exist. Pervez Tahir, in Chapter 19, gives a detailed account of the expansion of the social sciences departments in Pakistan. However, he also confirms and laments the fact that employment-oriented disciplines have expanded more rapidly as compared to the core social sciences departments.

This volume is a sad but honest commentary on the state of social sciences in public universities. It goes without saying that a systematic policy to curb debate in the society by the ruling classes destroys a nation completely. However, it is important to point out here that the mushroom growth of private universities is following the same pattern. They are focused mainly on job-oriented disciplines; core social sciences are completely ignored. Compared to public sector universities, they have better financing because they charge very high tuition fees; hence they offer better academic facilities like libraries, internet, and laboratories. Similarly, since they pay well, they pick up the best of the teaching faculty. However, very few private universities have full-time faculty on their payrolls.

This book should be widely circulated, particularly among the policy-makers in the Higher Education Commission. COSS should also commission a similar study on the status of physical sciences, and other disciplines, particularly those being financed by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

Review by Kuldeep Mathur in Pakistan Perspectives, Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, Karachi

The volume under review consists of contributions from scholars concerned about the state of social sciences in Pakistan. Since independence, such evaluations have been few and as a matter fact the first time that one was done was in 1980 after the Centre of Social Sciences and Humanaities (COSH) constituted a group of social scientists to conduct a study to assess the needs of five social disciplines – History, Political Science and International Relations, Psychology, Sociology/Anthropology/Social Work and Philosophy. This report was followed by another review undertaken by the Faculty of Social Sciences of Quaid-i-Azam University in 1986. The survey covered 11 disciplines and was published in 1989.

The present volume is a far more comprehensive effort sponsored by the Council of Social Sciences of Pakistan. Apart from its comprehensiveness, the contributions revolve around certain common questions that were provided to the authors The result is that the volume presents a coherent account of the state of social sciences in Pakistan . It is another matter that it is a ‘dismal’ account with Pakistani scholars bemoaning the low priority with in which social sciences are held in the country. While acknowledging that there has been significant increase in the number of departments of social sciences, from 39 to 149, a more than three fold rise, and rise in the number of teachers from 210 in 1963 1168 in 2001 representing a five fold increase, Saigol expresses the general feeling that this quantitative increase has not translated into a vibrant academic environment reverberating with debate and development of new ideas and theories. (471)

One recurrent theme that is cited for the lack of vibrancy is the paucity of trained and qualified faculty. Large number of teachers is not Ph.D and is rarely involved in research. The reasons for such a situation are not far to find. Governments do not provide adequate funds and do not consider social science of much relevance. Emergence of universities and research institutes in the private sector has worsened the problem by luring away the brighter lot with attractive salaries and working conditions. Lack of government funding has also meant that vacancies do not get filled up and therefore the teaching load increases pushing out time for research and reflection. Another dimension of poor funding is ill-equipped libraries with lack of material to keep pace with developments in the discipline the world over.

Another theme that is cited for low priority to social sciences is captured succinctly by Syed Jaffar Ahmed when he raises the question: What are the conditions in which academic disciplines flourish and enrich themselves and what are the essential criteria which give credibility to these disciplines at a universal level? And answers it by saying that fundamental pre-condition is the availability of an independent environment in which free inquiry can be carried out. (307) He goes on to add that social sciences are nourished by debate and discussion and this can happen only in democratic societies. Similar sentiment is expressed by Mehdi Hasan when he says that the reduced importance of social sciences in the country is to fragile democratic culture and weak democratic structure. (279) The scenario gets further complicated in many areas like strategic Studies where as Ayesha Siddiqua points out, the influence of the armed forces dispossesses analysts and academics of the ability to conduct deeper analysis and become stake-holders in the field. (73)

A third significant issue raised by these reviews of disciplines is the overwhelming ideological orientation of teachers across the disciplinary spectrum revolving around hegemonic religious and nationalist thinking. So deeply rooted are the teachers rooted in these versions of state and society that social sciences are unable to produce alternative visions for debate and discussion. The result is that universities have become dull and insipid places where received knowledge from old books is transmitted from generation to generation in the same unchanging way. (Saigol:477)

Many of the problems in the development of social sciences raised by the contributors are not limited to Pakistan. In varying measure all the countries of the sub-continent are grappling with many of these challenges. With onslaught of globalization and liberalization, overall support of public funding to higher education is declining and social sciences are facing crisis of relevance. Private sector is stepping in to fulfil the demands of the market that are concerned with technical and professional courses. Studies are becoming job oriented and better students and faculty both leave for greener pastures. A recent Seminar in India reviewing the state of social sciences, lamented that financial crunch is narrowing the focus of social science research making it project or market oriented concerned with ‘technical’ aspects of the field.

This is an important book and the distinguished social scientists who have contributed to the volume need to be commended for their frank and candid appraisal of developments in social science in Pakistan. Many of the problems are intractable and are embedded in the nature of state and society. Some can be handled by the opportunities being offered by the ICT revolution. It is these opportunities that can be explored to widen the interests. It is an uphill task but still needs to be undertaken as the Council of Social Sciences takes a more proactive stand to improve the state of the disciplines. I commend the volume to all those who reflect on these issues and want to enrich the disciplines in Pakistan. For educational policy makers, this volume should help re-orient their thinking.

 Status of Interdisciplinary Studies

Review by Vivek Kumar in Chandra Chari,Uma Iyengar (eds), The Book Review, Vol. XXX, No. 5, May 2006, New Delhi, India, p. 69.

The book under review is the outcome of Herculean task of reviewing the status of both pure and interdisciplinary of social sciences in Pakistan. The review has been done on the basis of quantities growth, qualitative development and identification of the factors that limited or fostered the discipline. Without following any chronology of the development discipline the editors have collected the articles on different discipline randomly. For instance International relations, which is relatively new and interdisciplinary subject, has been discussed ahead of Economics, Anthropology or sociology.

Three major challenges that the teaching and research in the field of International Relation in Pakistan face are, one, lack of theoretical orientation of the courses, second, its weak multidisciplinary character. The third challenge is the lack of nexus between the policy makers and the Pakistan academia (p.25). Inayatullah emphasizes that. "The discipline of Political Sciences in Pakistan compared to its counterparts in the West and India remains underdeveloped both quantitatively and qualitatively…The new development in the discipline at the international level only marginally touched it"(p.46). Ayesha Siddiqa mentions that Strategic Studies in Pakistan were the outcome of circumstances in which the armed forces started to build themselves after 1947where there was no infrastructure for the building and the training of armed forces. The discipline heavily relies on Economics, History, Sociology, Geography and etc. A lengthy fifty page review on state of Educational Discourse by Rubina Saigol argue, "Despite an extensive and intensive critique of the liberal structural-functional paradigm borrowed from the thought of Durkhiem and persons the majority of educators in Pakistan, remained caught with in the structural-functioning and liberal view of inequality in society…Most of the curricular content in Pakistan remained hostage to the controversial two nation paradigm, especially in Social Studies, Pakistan Studies, Islamiyat and language teaching…While educators in India developed sophisticated critique of how education reproduce the existing social order and class relationship…in Pakistan the mainstream educational establishment remained unaware of the worldwide scathing critiques of a liberal and positive education"(p.81).

Muhammad Ashraf Adeel traces the 55-year –old history of discipline of Philosophy and emphasizes that Islamic Philosophy relating to Pakistani culture, its identity and problem is thought in all the departments. Future, these departments have been playing an important in keeping Pakistan in contact with the intellectual life of the West. And argues that "interest in the Western Philosophy has been continuous cultural challenges that the innovative and dynamic Western culture has continued to present to rather stagnant Islamic societies for the last many centuries"(p.135). The state of Psychology as a discipline can be judged by the fact that 80 to 90 percent students are girls and there is no one who is known as a regular contributor to a magazine or newspaper. In this context Muhammad Pervez and Kamran Ahmad reveal, "In terms of level of research, Psychology still has low contribution to overall understanding of social issues and psyche of the nation and development"(p.167). Kamran Ali depicts that Economics is one of the three disciplines that Pakistan inherited from pre-partition India, along with History and Political Science. He claim that there is an impressive quantities growth in the field of Economics but qualitatively the subject has suffered because of the "production of applied economics who can contribute to the planned process of economic development of the country and almost indifferent towards the production of the economists that could contribute to the development of the discipline itself "(p.193). For Sociology in the Pakistan Muhammad Hafeez argues that since 1955 when sociology became an independent subject of study at MA level it has not played its envisaged role toward progress in Pakistani society. He writes,"The country remains fragmented politically, racially religiously and ethnically…The division on the basis sect and caste have swelled over the last two decades, which show the little role this subject has played on addressing this important social problem"(p.205).

Nadeem Omer Tarar opines that Anthropology started in the 1970s with the help of large number of German and American anthropologist. The researchers have predominantly used an evolutionary and structural functionalist paradigm for their stereotypical studies of village community, castes, and tribes. The preferred area of research is in a process of social changes in Pakistani rural society, especially in small communities and tribal groups (p.228). Writing about the development of History discipline Mubarak Ali portray the scene: "Because of the ideological consideration the subject has suffered immensely. To date no decision has been taken as to treat the ancient past. Should we ignore the ancient history because it is pre-Islamic? How do we deal with the Mediaeval period, when Muslim dynastic ruled over India and Delhi and Agra were the centre of power, while present territories of Pakistan were on periphery of their Kingdom? Some historians have tried to solve this problem by arguing that the history of Pakistan should start from 711-12 AD-the date Arab invasion of Sindh. Another approach suggest that starting point should be 1947"(p.239).

Zafar Iqbal Jadoon and Nasira Jabeen argue that public finance, comparative administration, development administration were an integral part of the curriculum and the subject is becoming very popular as it has an ability to provide employment to students. Another subject, which is on high priority is Journalism and Mass Communication says Mehdi Hasan who traces its development since 1941. Writing on ‘Area study in Pakistan’ Muhammad Islam, reveals that it started in1973 against the backdrop of 1971 crises. This was approved by National Educational Policy because it was necessary to study the foreign societies, which affect the national interests of Pakistan and help in policy formulation, he opines.

Syed Jaffar Ahmed argue that the numerous facts from historical, anthropological, religious, social, political, economic etc., were merged into multidisciplinary frame work to form the core of Pakistan Studies subject, taught at the different level of school and college education. Rubina Saigol defines the major objectives of Women’s Studies in Pakistan as a critical examination of concepts, theories, models and methodologies that have been responsible for excluding or rendering women invisible in scientific investigation and development, incorporation of knowledge on women and contribution by women scholars, creation of awareness and sensitisation about women issues at the community level, promotion of academic and action oriented research on women in development (p.357).

Moonis Ahmar & Farhan H. Siddiqui emphasize that though "Peace and conflict Studies" help to understand why conflicts take pace and how they could be prevented and resolve yet the discipline has not been institutionalised in Pakistan (p.390). One is astonished to hear that in a linguistically rich area like Pakistan Linguistics in not taught as an autonomous discipline. That is why there are no organizations and journals on the subject say, Tariq Rehman. ‘NGOs to Social Science Research in Pakistan’ by Anwar Shaheen depict that the turn of the century, the NGOs are growing with the function of advocacy and research. Paper on Quantitative Development of social Science by Pervez Tahir reveals that Pakistan has 17,300 social scientists and 149 social science departments, institutes and centres and other related facts. The rigorous evaluation of social science disciplines is done with that gives validity, accuracy and a scientific status.

Vivek Kumar is Assistant Professor at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Revamping Education

Review by Mohammad Waseem, Dawn, October 23, 2005

This book is a milestone on the way to annalytical assessment of the state of social sciences in Pakistan at the beginning of the 21st century. It was long overdue especially because a similar exercise was carried out two decades ago. It provides both an insight into the current state of individual disciplines and a general picture of social sciences. It contains hard data along with a discussion of conceptual issues for evaluating the available research of social scientists in Pakistan.

 A major theme of the book relates to the quantitative and qualitative development of social sciences. The former covers the number and functioning of teaching and research institutions, various social sciences associations, faculty members of departments engaged in research, enrolment of students mainly at the university level and production of PhD and MPhil dissertations. The latter focuses on the theoretical and empirical research produced from within and outside universities. Methodologically, the major thrust of the book is on:(1) classical disciplines such as Political Science, Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, History, Sociology and Anthropology, (2)relatively recent disciplines of International Relations, Strategic Studies, Education, Public Administration, Mass Communications and Women’s Studies; and (3) the input of NGOs into the social science research.

 The book brings out two parallel trends in Pakistan. On the one hand, there has been expansion of educational and research institutions, student enrolment and research activity. It is collectively defined as quantitative development. On the other hand, qualitative development is in crisis. This is due to the decreasing number of foreign-trained teachers and researchers and decline in the activities of members of the academic community. Contributors to the present collection of articles hold the educational policies of the government responsible for stagnation in the field of social science research. This comes out in several ways, that is, lack of career opportunities for social science graduates, ideological manipulation of the curricula, lack of access to information, absence of incentives for a university career and an anti-intellectual bias of policy-makers in general.

 In a leading chapter of the book, Dr Inayatullah traces down the institutional, normative, historical, descriptive and non-contextual nature of the political science tradition of Pakistan to the heritage of British India. While he finds some impact of behavioural approach on political scientists, he sees little influence of Marxism, the political economy approach and dependency theory. He laments the relatively narrow range of areas of research, which is beginning to expand only recently.

 In his chapter on International Relations, R.B. Rais points to lack of awareness among Pakistani social scientists about contemporary theoretical debates and methodological developments in the West, and to lack of space for scholarly input into foreign policy. In his view, the discipline faces three major challenges: non-theoretical orientation of courses, weak multi-disciplinary character annoy-coordination between the two worlds of policy and research. In her chapter on Strategic Studies, Ayesha Siddiqa focuses on the way this discipline has gradually become the preserve of the armed forces in terms of both, the input of funds and information and output of research production. She points to the non-sharing of official data with researchers as a serious problem for research on security issues.

 In her brilliant essay on the educational discourse in Pakistan, Rubina Saigol discusses the current state of affairs in the discipline in abroad theoretical framework. She finds the educational policies of Pakistan rooted in the neoliberal approach and structural-functional approach, with a strong economist and utilitarian bias as reflected through the ideologies of progress. She laments the absence of issues relating to social and economic inequality and connection between knowledge, pedagogy and power in the contemporary debate on education. Her work provides a critique of market economies, managerial approaches, quantitative expansion and ideologization of research.

 Karamat Ali criticises the current emphasis on production of applied economists and lack of contact with the global currents of research. Mubarak Ali’s chapter on history finds discipline to be cut off from contemporary debates and reduced to an instrument of propaganda for state ideology.

 The chapters on Psychology and Anthropology find a shared experience of quantitative expansion and qualitative stagnation, while the chapters on Sociology and Philosophy conclude on a depressing note of decline on both counts. The chapter on Public Administration and Mass Communication makes an expansionist profile for the two disciplines in terms of career opportunities, leading to their popularity among students.

 The chapters on Area Studies and Pakistan Studies, once again, point to the dormant and relatively non-productive character of the former and the ideological and subjective character of research pursuits in the latter. The chapter on women’s studies, by Rubina Saigol, brings out interaction between theory and practice of the feminist movement in Pakistan. She provides a critique of the current gender discourse revolving around training projects and women empowerment issues and stresses the need for deconstructing the existing knowledge categories.

The chapter on peace and conflict resolution studies highlights the exaggerated nature of threat perceptions in the context of a nexus between the military and ulema as well as between bureaucracy and hawkish scholars. In the chapter on Linguistics, Tariq Rahman practically seeks to introduce the discipline in Pakistan and points to the need for teaching theoretical linguistics, sociolinguistics, neurolinguistics and semiotics. The book includes a study of various NGOs’ contribution to social science research with reference to pilot studies, exploratory research and field reports on democracy, women, human rights and development issues.

On the whole, the book presents a great challenge to both the educational establishment and researchers, because it urges them to rise to the occasion and save social sciences from its current crisis, which is characterized by endemic insularity, ideological straitjacketing, primitive methodology and non-theoretical orientation.

Journal Debate

Review by Sarah Humayun, The News, October 30, 2005

This book should prove useful to anyone who wishes to become acquainted with the condition of the social sciences as taught in public-sector institutions in Pakistan. It includes a number of papers by leading practitioners and teachers, each focussing on individual disciplines and, in some cases, on sub-disciplines and ancillary sectors. There are papers on economics, philosophy, sociology, history, education, political science, international relations, anthropology, psychology, journalism and mass communications, as well as on area studies strategic studies, peace and conflict resolution studies, linguistics, women's studies, and Pakistan studies. One paper focuses on the contribution of NGOs to research in the social sciences.

The papers vary considerably in their focus, but most of them have something to say about the qualitative as well as logistical aspects -- the number of departments and of teachers in them, what degrees have they got and where from, how many PhDs and MPhils have they turned out -- of their respective subjects. The data presented have been collected both by the Council of Social Sciences Pakistan, the body which commissioned the profile, and by the writers themselves. Some of the data, as the introduction tells us, have been gleaned from University Grants Commission publications, and have been up-dated by the Council to the year 2001. In some instances individual authors have collected their own additional data up to the year 2003. Most of the papers include histories of their disciplines as they have been taught since their induction in Pakistani universities. They diagnose what has gone wrong with them and how it might be fixed.

The patient, it seems from their findings, is in a bad shape. Only one paper, 'Contributions of NGOs to Social Science Research in Pakistan', concludes on "the happy note that the NGOs are contributing a good volume of research to the various fields of social sciences, despite many limitations". By and large the profile has, perhaps rightly, something of the tone of a funeral march. There are no teachers, or no good teachers, no community of scholars, no debate and critique, no career prospects, no journals, no substantial research, no interdisciplinarity, and so on.

The profile touches upon many issues of particular interest to the social science disciplines here studied, and I am sure scholars in these different areas will have much to say about the findings of the individual papers. But one concern it shares with other studies documenting the history and present state of higher education is clear. Nothing will come of nothing, it is said. That must be proved false in this case. A complex of higher educational institutions, communities of scholars, publishers, and academic and professional organisations sustains academic disciplines in western universities. It does not exist in any comparable form here. How can this be brought about? Is it even desirable?

The example of only one of the indicators used in these studies, the existence of suitable research journals, will tell us something about the nature of the problem. Research journals in the West have largely been leased out to publishing firms, which are responsible for quality control, editing and distribution. A system of independent refereeing is used to sort through articles and to check plagiarism, especially in the sciences. Academics don't make money out of publishing themselves, but the research they publish is often instrumental in attracting research funds to their universities. Publishers do cream off huge profits from this business, as they have a sitting-duck readership in the form of thousands of university libraries and research foundations. Individuals themselves rarely subscribe to these journals. The journals act as forums for academic communities -- indeed they have been instrumental in the creation of those communities, and publishing in them is a rite of passage for academic coming of age.

And those journals will already have their distribution taken care of by their own publishers. Our own universities will either have to pay huge sums to subscribe to them, or to do without them. Academic publishing in the West is unlike general trade publishing in that it survives not on a general but an institutional readership. This readership clearly does not exist in Pakistan at the moment, though things are likely to improve on this front in future. But will they improve enough to make it a profitable proposition for local publishers? And even if it is profitable, it would still remain expensive. On a practical note, those wishing to start academic journals in Pakistan should explore the possibility of publishing in cyberspace.

It is not unreasonable, therefore, to think that having journals of this kind will jumpstart the academic scene here. But who will publish in them? Especially if standards are to be maintained. Truly serious academics will understandably aim to publish abroad, but this will hardly encourage the formation of an indigenous academic community.

A curious impasse is reached in every discussion about anything that is an implant from the West. We may have the organ, but we can't have the parent body. But to nurture the organ, something very like the parent body is required. A fledgling discipline soon finds that it needs its nest of faculty-with-doctorates, libraries and research journals. The problem is genuine -- at least I haven't encountered anything that looks like a comprehensive solution. This probably means that the solution, when and if it comes, will be piecemeal and not 'holistic', that it will build on the insights and accomplishments of many individuals and groups that are involved in this matter. Meanwhile, publications like the profile, which continue to survey and index the field, act as reminders -- but of what, one cannot be sure.

Ideology and Education

Review by Mehtab Ali Shah, Economic and Political Weekly, March 3, 2007

In a dictatorship such as the regime that currently rules Pakistan, where free debate is suppressed, and natural sciences remain at the disproportionate disposal of the defence complex, the slow progress in the development of social sciences is normal. The book under review is a collection of papers contributed by top Pakistani social scientists highlighting the difficulties they face in their respective disciplines.

Rasul Bakhsh Rais, professor of international relations, Quaid-i-Azam Univer-sity, Islamabad, in his paper, "Teaching of International Relations in Pakistani Uni-versities", argues that the subject has not properly developed in Pakistani universi-ties, and has strong foundation only at Islamabad and Karachi Universities where facilities for proper research exist. Many teachers in the country, who have no exposure to western universities, are un-aware of several conceptual debates. Thus they teach in a descriptive manner. The Foreign Office documents are inaccessible to the academic community which is deprived from primary sources of research. Students have few optional subjects to select; theories of International Relations, International Law, Political Economy, and the post-war era are taught as compulsory subjects. This makes the subject dull. International Relations help students ap-pearing for the competitive examinations. Rais points out that the lure of good salaries at private universities, on the one hand, and the intellectually congested academic environment, on the other, impels many reputed academics either to join private sector universities or go abroad. He recommends that the for-mation of an International Studies Association in collaboration with regional scholars will help enormously in the growth of the discipline.

Ayesha Siddiqa, a well-known defence analysis, dilating on the 'Development of Strategic Studies' suggests that Strategic Studies is in effect the policy science for formulating polices on national security. In Pakistan the definition of national security is principally the army's domain. The army's influence in the development of Strategic Studies as a subject and policy has been so predominant that on the re-commendation of the elite military insti-tution, the National Defence College (NDC), the Quaid-i-Azam University,- Islamabad awards a one-year in masters degree to its graduates just for writing a paper aimed at pleasing their senior officers. Ironically, this one-year degree is equiva-lent to the two-year masters degree of the same university. Strategic analysis is an expertise that is the prerogative of the armed forces, some retired diplomats, journalists and academics, close to the army. There is relatively little independent think-ing on policy matters. Citing the example of the Kargil crisis of 1999, Siddiqa points outs that much has been written on this topic in India but only one version of the event, written by Shireen Mazri, which is the government's version has appeared in Pakistan (Nawaz Sharif's version was not available in 2003). Because of dearth of data, in comparison to foreign scholars, like Stephen Cohen, who have been given generous access to data by military estab-lishment on strategic issues, Pakistani academics do not produce world-class research on strategic matters. Summing up her discussion, she argues that it is not only Strategic Studies, but education as a whole, particularly social sciences, that are in the state of limbo in Pakistan.

Ideology as History
Moonis Ahmar and Farhan Siddiqi of Karachi University, in their paper 'Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies' opine that this is a relatively new discipline that has emerged from the traditional discipline of International Relations, focused on Morgenthau's concept of "realism". 'Peace and conflict resolution, does not concentrate solely on interstate wars and conflict, but also studies issues such as ethnic violence, state repression and social conditions which influence the growth of crime, inequalities in society, etc. Ahmar and Siddiqi seem-ingly forget the contribution of John Burton in offering 'The World Society' as an alternate paradigm to the study of Inter-national Relations. The Nordic countries played a pioneering role in the development of Conflict Resolution. The subject came to India first and then to Pakistan, where it faced stiff resistance from the armed forces, jihadis and their like-minded academics, to whom the study of Conflict Resolution looked like a conspiracy to undermine Pakistan's military preparedness against the militarily strong "Hindu India or Israel who are bent on disintegrating it". Peace Studies received a momentum in Pakistan after former prime minister Atal Vajpayee's visit to Islamabad in 2004, and the processes Track-II and Track-III diplomacy. Now it is even offered in the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), but is reportedly funded by the armed forces.

Mubarak Ali Khan, a non-conformist historian deals with the problem of construc-tion of an artificial history subservient to the ideology of Pakistan. According to this notion of history, Pakistan was created in 712 AD, when the Arab invader, Mohmmed Bin Qasim, conquered Sindh and laid the foundation of an Islamic polity in the subcontinent, which ultimately attained its formal shape in 1947. Khan correctly suggests that young minds are not happy with this coupling of ideology and history; thus this official interpretation is rejected, principally by Sindhi intellectuals. They present their own local history. Khan opines that history as a discipline should not be at the disposal of state-sponsored ideologues.

Picking up the theme, Syed Jaffar Ahmed, the director of the Pakistan Studies Centre, Karachi University, deals with the prob-lem of teaching Pakistan Studies in the country, which he believes has been re-peated for 12 years at school and the university levels, just to brainwash students to justify the creation of Pakistan. He argues that the syllabus has been designed in such a manner that one gets impression that Pakistan is a theocratic state, a part of west and central Asia only marginally connected with the Indian subcontinent. From this perspective, Hindus and British are the enemies or conspirators. Only the true faithful can save the country from internal and external machinations. Ahmed states that the governments of Zulfiqar Ali -Bhutto, and Benazir Bhutto, planned to replace this unrealistic mindset by introducing the country as an amalgam of similar local cultures. They also intended to introduce regional languages as a measure for national integration. But this scheme was torpedoed by religious parties which perceived it as a conspiracy against the country and religion. He strongly believes that Pakistan studies should be taught on the pattern of area studies, where a student learns about the culture, history, geopolitics and economics of her country.

Rubina Saigol, one of the editors of the volume, in her concluding chapter argues that the study of subjects like History, Philosophy, Political Science and Socio-logy, etc, which are helpful for an under-standing of state, institutions, society and culture, is on the decline in Pakistan for two principal reasons: first, they do not have market value, whereas most students go for Information Technology and Computer Sciences, Business Studies, and Economics; secondly, Pakistan lacks scholarly tradition; state interference in university has stifled the growth of independent inquiry. The right to dissent has been taken away through a number of publications, ordinances and libel and defamation laws curtail press freedom and all freedom of thought and action. The net result of this state of affairs is that as compared to India, social sciences have not markedly developed in Pakistan. Saigol is optimistic that in a democratic set-up things will improve. She also ad-vises that only a serious commitment by the state to divert resources from non--development expenditure into education will ultimately solve the problem.

Saigol's concluding remarks about the trampling of freedom of expression by the, -state or the university machinery in Pakistan would certainly vindicate those academic dissenters who have endured the ordeal of persecution and prosecution because of their original and argumentative ideas.

Associations of Social Scientists: An Analytical Study, edited by Inayatullah, Islamabad,  Council of Social Sciences, 2006, pp. 313.

Negative Stereotypes

Reviewed by Dr. Tariq Rahman, Dawn, Books & Authors, July 9, 2006, p.7

This is the first study of the associations of social scientists edited by Dr Inyatullah and published under the auspices of the Council of Social Sciences  it could not have been an easy task to compile this book because the information is spread out and very difficult to bring under one cover. The team of writers selected to write this book must have spent much labour and time to collect this kind of material. The editor's major achievement is to sum up the trends and point out what the associations achieved in all these years.

The book has twelve chapters. In the beginning, after an introduction by the editor, there is an overview of the social science associations in Pakistan. This too is by Dr. Inayatullah and we must be indebted to him for providing us with a summary of trends as well as an insightful analysis of the major social science associations. He points out that a committed, highly placed, founder-president is crucial for strengthening an association. He touches upon the power struggles in the associations and whether they survived such crises or not. He also tells us that shortage of funds has been a major factor for lowering the performance of the six associations he discusses. The most useful insight he presents is that 'the academic culture in Pakistani universities is essentially utilitarian and "other centred" '(p. 44). By 'utilitarian' he means that knowledge is perceived to be a money-making activity. This is not likely to change under the circumstances when the market forces are becoming more and more powerful and more assets are on sale than ever before. If the meaning of the 'other' is taken to be absence of analysis of social science itself then Dr Inayatullah is right. However, such analysis is part of the sociology of knowledge or the study of universities and academics.

There are eight chapters on the social science associations of Pakistan in the book. The subjects covered are: Economics (Pervez Tahir); Political Science (Inayatullah); History (Zarina Salamat); Philosophy (Shabbir Ahsen); Sociology (A. N Gardesi and Riffat Munawar); Psychology (Muhammad Pervez and Arila Kamal). Then there are two articles by Ahmad Salim: one, on the Asiatic Society of Bengal and Pakistan and the other on the development of associations in British India.

While many associations were formed during the first few years of Pakistan, the seventies saw the formation of no new association. Similarly, the performance in the phase between 1972 to 2005 has been poorer than it was between 1947 to 1971. The reason for this, according to Dr. Inayatullah, is that some qualified leaders went abroad while others 'got disappointed with the political set up in Pakistan' (p. 19). He suggests that the crisis of 1971 has had a tremendous impact upon social scientists. This needs investigation since one would normally assume that social scientists explain such momentous events and, therefore, the number of writings should go up. If it does not happen an explanation is needed. I can hardly suggest a testable hypothesis but is it worth investigating that the social scientists were afraid of the state so much that they dared not investigate the truth about Bangladesh? Or, could the failing be attributed to the possibility that the middle class got more financially pressurized in a fast changing world in which incomes at the upper level were increasing while those at the lower decreased. And, under the circumstances, this pressure resulted in academics seeking money-making engagements (more teaching and donor-driven research) leaving them little time for research and professional activities? Or, is it that a destabilized world moves one away from academic associations which are seen as being useless? One does not know but it is a good thing that such questions have been raised.

There is not enough time to go into the individual narratives about each discipline separately. While there is much empirical data, there is a curious absence of the clash of ideologies one witnesses in textbooks and otherwise. Authors have, of course, alluded to this clash-Zarina Salamat refers to the politicization of history textbooks and Riffat Munawar talks about sociologists not carrying out research which could annoy the rulers-but this has not been analyzed in any depth or detail. We do not know whether conflicting viewpoints were expressed in the conferences though we assume they must have been even if they were glossed over. It would be interesting if such facts are collected and a more nuanced view of the ideological clashes in Pakistani academia are brought out in another publication or a revision of this one.

My  own view of the weakness of professional associations has much to do with the nature of the Pakistani state and society. The state privileges the military and the bureaucracy and only recently is there some talk of paying academics handsome salaries. The society values money and power because it has few rules which are not violated and no security from want and harassment. Thus people want money and some powerful friend in the state structure of power. Such a society does not value knowledge. Its attitude towards knowledge is based on daily experienced realities.

The practitioners of the social sciences (called 'arts') are either an unknown species or are lumped together with school teachers and college lecturers as 'teachers'. And, since 'teaching' is not a prestigious profession, nobody seems to be aware that academia is prestigious in other countries. Indeed, the profession is called 'teaching' and not 'academia' in Pakistan which shifts emphasis away from one's possible identity as a social scientist or scholar to that of a 'teacher' thus associating one with all the negative stereotypes associated with that profession in this country.

Professional associations cannot, obviously, be taken seriously by people who see themselves as 'teachers' rather than political scientists or sociologists. Thus, one major reason for the lack of development of associations, in my view, is that Pakistani academics have yet to learn to think of themselves as academics. If they do join professional associations at some stage, it is for getting such perquisites as the chance to attend conferences and travel. Or, maybe, these are bodies where one can be the dispenser of patronage and so empower themselves. After all, one finds that ministers and bureaucrats too head these associations and are more 'successful' than academics because they can use the state machinery more effectively than academics. This, unfortunately is the reason why non-academic vice chancellors also 'succeed'. These may be harsh speculations but I suspect research on these lines-difficult though it is-may provide insights into how social science associations function in Pakistan.
I end on a note of gratitude. Gratitude because the authors undertook such a hard and thankless research task and have provided us with empirical facts which make further research possible. My special gratitude is for Dr. Inayatullah who spent his time, energy and personal resources to produce this pioneering data base.


 Copyrights © 2006-2007 COSS Council of Social Sciences, Pakistan.