Whirlwind Speaking Tour of Pakistan

I just reached Dubai International airport after concluding an extremely rewarding visit to Lahore.

The main purpose of my visit was to deliver the keynote address at a humanities conference organized by the University of Lahore, department of English, but, as is always the case with my Pakistan trips, I ended up giving three additional talks at different universities.

The conference, entitled Geographies of Resistance, was a wonderfully organized two-day event with a dual focus on literature and linguistics. I found all sessions to be extremely well organized and very well attended. Some of the major figures of Pakistani higher education were present during various sessions and I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Mujahid Kamran and Dr. Tariq Rahman and had the chance to see some old friends and mentors like Dr. Shahid Siddiqui and Dr. Waseem Anwar.

I think even more delightful part of this whole experience for me personally was the chance to meet and interact with the young and emerging scholars. People have often asked me as to why I agree to visit for such short visits, especially considering that it usually takes me two days to reach Pakistan from Dallas. My usual answer is always that it is my way of giving something back to Pakistan, which is an honest answer. But I think for me personally, all such visits are also always spiritually and professionally invigorating and I always return home with some new ideas and always after having made some new friends. So, in this sense, the University of Lahore conference wasn’t just a professional opportunity but rather also an event that gave me a chance to meet some brilliant young scholars and enabled me to share my own current thoughts on humanities with a curious and eager audience of fellow learners. I am deeply grateful to the conference organizers for inviting me as their keynote speaker.

I would like to personally thank the Dean, Dr. Muhamamd Shahbaz Arif, for his hospitality and the two conference organizers, Dr. Farah Kashif and Arjumand Bano, for their kindness and care during my visit.

As always happens with my visits, this time too I ended up doing more than what I had planned. My other activities included a lecture on postcolonial studies at UMT, which was organized by my friend Dr. Naila Sahar. I enjoyed the wonderful questions that her students asked during the session.

Yet another session was organized by Aisha Ahmad, another dear friend, at Lahore Leads University where we mostly talked about theory, post colonialism, and scholarly writing. My friend Shaista Zeb, Chair of English at NUML Lahore, organized yet another sessions on scholarly writing. So, even though physically I was pretty much exhausted by the time I left Lahore, I was, however, intellectually and spiritually invigorated.

Just seeing the degree and intensity of interest in learning, often under trying circumstances, is what I find the most impressive about Pakistani students and scholars.

I hope to return this summer to have some more of these enriching exchanges.

Announcements Commentaries

My Planned Talk at University of Lahore

In a couple of days I will travel to the historic town of Lahore to give a culminating Keynote address at a conference being organized by the English department of University of Lahore.

Entailed Geographies of Resistance: Literature, Language, Culture, this conference has the following general theme:

Since the middle of the twentieth century, resistance in literature, language and culture has been closely associated with the anti-colonial and national liberation movements in the Global South. The neoliberal globalization wih its attendant economic and socio-political ideologies, however, transforms registance to a more global form. Geopgraphics of Resistance:Literature,Language and Culture seeks to explore how resistance is reconfigured in contemporary aesthetics, linguistics, and cultural practices of contemporary forms of globalization. The conference aims to explore not only the various forms of resistance but also investigates the interrelation of all aspects that make up culture including class, race, gender, media, language and power. Discussions may focus on how these elements traverse the spaces of resistance that tend to counter late modern globalization, which is largely responsible for national and trasnational conflicts, socio-economic inequalities, and ecological disasters. In addition to sites of resistance, the conference hopes to highlight discourse on the coercive and repressive policies of neoliberal practices in the Global South.

I consider it a great honor to be invited to give a talk and I hope that my words and thoughts would be of some use to the audience.

I will be speaking about the role of humanistic education in shaping our individual and collective subjectivities in contemporary times.

I have always maintained that a truly humanistic education, when delivered through an informed pedagogy, can help us educate our students to be more compassionate, generous, and caring. Of course, these are not my ideas: many a philosopher and theorist have argued for this kind of regard for our local and global others.

Similarly, many scholars in my own field have argued that humanities can perform this function of “training the imagination” (Spivak) of our students.

So, in this talk I will mostly focus on critical pedagogy, for without an informed pedagogy humanities are not likely to deliver on any of their transformative possibilities.

This is just a brief note to share the news about this exciting conference. I will post a detailed account of the event after my visit.

Commentaries Politics Religion

Hamza Tzortzis – Pervez Hoodbhoy debate on Reason and Rationality in Islam

English: Pervez Hoodbhoy
Image via Wikipedia











Tzortzis (Greek, lives in London) converted to Islam and is now hugely popular among young Muslims.

Pervez Hoodbhoy received a doctorate in nuclear physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently teaches physics and political science

at LUMS (Lahore). He previously taught at Quaid-i-Azam University for 36 years and was head of the physics department.
Unfortunately, the debate ended badly. The whole thing is pretty entertaining…this was the only challenge Tzortzis received at a Pakistani university.

The Debate

The Facts after their Debate

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Arab Spring and the Autumn of the Dictators

For the last few weeks, I have been, like so many other people from the Muslim world, engrossed in the uprising in Libya hoping for a quick end to Qaddafi’s dictatorship. As someone who comes form a country where one after the other dictator has conveniently defiled the national constitution in the name of national service, this new tide of popular uprisings against dictators is really heartening.

This new wave of popular revolutions not only dispels the often racilized views of Arabs and Muslims (A FOX news commentator recently declared that Arabs were genetically unfit for democracy) but also sends a strong message to any future adventurers in our part of the world. It seems our people will no longer allow local dictatorial puppets to become the local policemen for the imperial interests.

These new revolutions, of course, should also be a lesson to the generals in Pakistan: it seems they can no longer oust popularly elected governments in the name of national security.

There is an ironic moment in Pervez Musharraf’s (remember him?) post-coup speech where he indicts Nawaz Sharif’s government for “politicizing the armed forces.” The fact that he does that with a straight face exactly at the moment when he himself has suddenly become a politician is akin to work of art in sophistry.

I also like this image of Musharraf in uniform being greeted in Lahore as he canvasses for his so-called referendum: a general playing a political without even a hint of irony.

let us hope that this new wave of popular uprisings in the Middle East will forestall any future military adventurism.

Next, we need to teach some lessons to our over-fed and anachronistic waderas and zamindars. I am sure there time will come soon.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Announcements Editorials

Happy Birthday: Pakistan Forum

Today is the third birthday of The Pakistan Forum, which was launched under the title “Pakistaniaat Forum” as a blog affiliated with Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies. Not surprisingly, our first ever blog post was about the journal:

Pakistaniaat Call for Submissions–December Issue

That issue was successfully published and since then we have published four more issues of Pakistaniaat. The blog has now taken a life form of its own. From simple announcements to a few occasional commentaries from me, The Pakistan Forum has now become a multiauthor blog that also features a blog aggregation page, a link exchange page, and, the most important, features writings by more than twelve contributors. We promise to continue doing our best in the field of Pakistan studies and in our general engagement with issues related to Pakistan. In the last two years, we have published 442 blog entries, have received 326 comments from our readers, and more than 80, 000 unique visitors have visited our blog during this time.

Please accept our thanks and do visit us, read our posts, and share your thoughts with us. We are honored to be of service to Pakistan and its people.

Commentaries Editorials

The Veiled Woman in the Picture: Mystery Solved

The Woman in the Picture: Begum Amjadi Bano


On March 23rd, I wrote a brief entry about the veiled woman in a picture of the Lahore Resolution day. You can read that entry here. Until the day  I saw the this particular picture, this woman had not existed for me, for she had been totally elided from the mainstream history of the Pakistan movement: I mean the history taught and discussed in the Pakistan school system.

Thanks to the internet that mystery has now been solved. One of our kind readers, Mr. Muhammad Ahmed, was able to find her real name and also a few references to her accomplishments. So I take these few moments to share these details and to thank Muhammad Ahmed for his generosity in sharing this knowledge.

The lady in question was named Begum Amjadi Bano who was married to Maulana Muhammad Ali, the man to her right, and she was a participating member of the committee that drafted the Lahore Resolution. You can also find more information about her by using the following links:

I do hope that Pakistani historians will retrieve more and more of such figures and that their stories will be foregrounded in our teaching but also in the media and the public sphere. Inclusion of these silenced narratives is one of the many ways to challenge the phallocentric historiography of the Pakistan movement.

Once again, my thanks to Mr. Ahmed for sharing his knowledge with us.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pakistan Forum: What are we All About?

Lately, we have been getting some comments on the website that suggest that some of our readers could use a brief explanation of what we are or what we are not. The Pakistan Forum, first and foremost, is a multiauthor blog that aims to publish materials in support of a progressive, democratic, and inclusive Pakistan.

The blog started as an offshoot of our journal, Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies, but has now taken on a life of its own. We mostly post opinion pieces from a selected group of authors who either write exclusively for us or allow us to republish their articles published in other publications.

We also encourage new and young writers to contribute their writings to us. You can very conveniently submit your articles by using the Submission Link provided on our front page.

We also welcome thoughtful comments. You can check our comment and other  policies on our Policies page.

We are also happy to publish Pakistan-related announcements if you send them to us at

We also aggregate feeds from good Pakistani blogs; if you have a Pakistan-related blog and would like to be included in our aggregated feed please provide us the details using the Suggest a Blog link.

We are NOT a newspaper, so most of what we publish is opinion-based writing informed by theory, personal experience, and a desire to contribute to a progressive Pakistani public sphere.

We would love to review and publish your work. Please pass the word about The Pakistan Forum to your friends and if you have a blog, please add our link to your blog.

Announcements Editorials

Cluster on Lahore with Love, Now in August

As you might be aware, we were planning to publish a cluster of essays on Fawzia Afzal-Khan’s Lahore with Love in our April issue. We have now decided to publish it in August to give more authors a chance to contribute. Given below are details of our CFP for this cluster:

As you might be aware, Fawzia Afzal-Khan’s memoir Lahore with Love: Growing up with Girlfriends Pakistani Style, Syracuse UP, 2010, was canceled by the publisher for fear of a lawsuit after the book had already been published.

The August 2011 issue of Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies will publish a special cluster of essays that deal with this important book, its themes, its representational and  stylistic strategies, and, of course, the controversy surrounding its cancellation or any other theme of importance.

The book is now being published independently and will soon be available through All essays, unless solicited directly from the authors, will go through a blind review process.

Submission Deadline: June 15, 2011.

Publication Date: August 1, 2011.

Please log on to the journal website (create an account if you don’t have one already) and submit your articles using our automated submission system.

For questions and queries, please feel free to contact me at

Masood Raja, Editor