Science in Pakistan

A few weeks back, a senior Pakistani physicist asked some of us if we would be interested in teaching for a semester or two in one of Pakistan’s premier new universities at (almost) western salaries. As it turned out, many of my colleagues were interested, though given the present state of relations between the two countries, it’s not clear that we would get clearance from the Government of India, which would be a pity.

Coincidentally, a recent editorial in Nature appeared, pointing out some interesting facts. Apparently, while military rule may not have been  good for the country as a whole (it usually never is) military dictators, and particularly Pervez Musharraf has invested more in science in Pakistan than the many short lived democratic governments who have been too busy to survive to worry about appointing vice chancellors or science ministers and fund the science establishment. The net result is that while Musharraf may have done his little bit for science, years, perhaps decades of neglect have left the science establishment bereft of any major pool of serious teachers and researchers. Hence the need to ask scientists from the ‘enemy’ country to come and spend some time in Pakistan.

If this plan works, it would indeed be an excellent case of cooperation across a rather unstable border, and yet another example of how science knows no boundaries. Will our countries display that wisdom?

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One Response to “Science in Pakistan”

  1. Omar Says:

    It will take a brave professor to cross the border. There is a lot of stigma attached to such an action. If it is part of a larger cooperation effort, wonderful. If a mercenary action alone ( looks like they are not offering Indian salaries but the western salaries) then it is the same as going to Dubai or Saudi Arabia — no greater impact beyond the immediate job function.

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