Islamabad [Pakistan], Sept. 24 (ANI): A Pakistani columnist and writer has said Islamabad is only interested in taking it missile programmes forward to realize its military goals, and not keen to instill a sense of curiosity about science in educational institutions and in students.
Echoing sentiments somewhat similar to what Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had expressed about Pakistan at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly session in New York, columnist Irfan Husain in a opinion piece published in the Dawn said, "I have been struck by the absence of contribution from Muslim states in the exploration of our solar system, or, indeed, in any serious study of the cosmos. Many Muslim scientists have been part of this effort to enhance our understanding of the universe, but they have done so in the West."
Swaraj said that India has since its independence from British colonial rule, established institutions like IITs, IIMs and AIIMS, and made a global name for itself in the field of information technology and research, besides other fields, whereas Pakistan has been known and will always be known as a country providing safe haven to terrorists and terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Haqqani Network.
Husain said "Some Muslim countries like Pakistan have missile programmes, but these have specifically military goals. True, the Russian and American initiatives to break gravity's shackles originated in the Cold War, and both owe a debt of gratitude to the German development of V2 military rockets. But, both spend billions on pure research where the object is to satisfy human curiosity," he added.
Asserting that Saudi Arabia and Russia's have large GDPs, Hussain said that Riyadh seems to spend its cash apart from catering to the whims of its thousands of freeloading princelings, on buying weapons that it uses to devastate a dirt poor country like Yemen whereas Moscow on the other hand, is a major player in scientific research across a wide range of disciplines from psychology to particle physics, its scientists are constantly pushing the frontiers of knowledge.
Citing examples of India and China, the writer said that New Delhi has launched space missions to the moon and to Mars and Beijing has sent astronauts into space, apart from landing a rover on the moon.
Husain was of opinion that most Muslim countries are too poor to undertake ground-breaking research and the nations which are rich squander their natural resources in gambling casinos and on luxury jets than on science.
He said while the rich Muslim countries happily consume products of foreign technology, they contribute nothing to the sum total of human knowledge.
"But money aside, why don't our schools instil a sense of curiosity and wonder into our students? Turkey has just removed the teaching of Darwinian evolution from the school curriculum. Thus, at a stroke, Erdogan has condemned a generation of young Turks to ignorance about how life evolved on our planet. But here, he's in good company: Imran Khan once dismissed Darwin's theory as 'half-baked'," he said.
"When our leaders display such ignorance about scientific evidence, how can we expect our children to excel in science?" he added.
Quoting Pakistani nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy, Hussain said that the former had alerted about the dangers of issuing degrees at the highest academic level to post-graduate students who have not earned them by professors and institutions who seek to boost numbers rather than quality.
"These same undeserving PhDs then go on to teach others. This vision of growing mediocrity is depressing beyond measure," he said.
He noted that the combined output of scientific papers produced by Muslim countries is a tiny fraction of Israel's.
"We are proud of the achievements of Muslim scientists who made a huge contribution in the mediaeval era. Since then, however, the torch of scientific inquiry has passed to the West," Husain said questioning that where Pakistan does lags behind.
He said the fact that Pakistan's sole Nobel Prize winner in physics, Professor Abdus Salam, had to live and work abroad speaks volumes for the hospitality of the country's soil to scientists and also mentioned that the Nobel laureate wasn't even allowed to speak at Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University by Jamiat thugs. (ANI)