“The Treason of the Intellectuals” in Pakistan

Summer of 1970. Rochester, N.Y. I was teaching in the Summer School on South Asia at the University of Rochester. Noticing an announcement concerning a conference on Pakistan’s economy being held on the campus, I decided to attend it. Until that moment I was totally ignorant of the realities of the politics of Pakistan. The sessions at the conference were eye-openers. All the big names were there, the Harvard gang led by Gustav Papaneck and his ilk, the big names from what was then West Pakistan—the guys who went on to live a good life off World Bank and the post-1972 Pakistan, and the big guns from what was still East Pakistan. Rahman Subhan is a name that jumps into memory. As I said, the sessions opened my eyes, and made me realize for the first time what had been happening in Pakistan in the name of Development. Consequently I was not surprised when the big break up happened the following year. I’m sure there is some record somewhere of the papers read at that historical meeting.

Unfortunately, i.e. for the new Pakistan, the MBAs with World Bank and IMF aspirations continued to hold their own in the new country. They were the ones who were also favored by the dictators and autocrats who followed Yahya Khan in the President House, for both sets were keen to make good off the United States. But their acts, mostly of commission, are hardly ever mentioned in the Pakistani media. Thus it was a pleasure to come across the essay, “Providing intellectual cover to General Zia’s sectarian policiesby Murtaza Haider at Dawn.com/blog.

One hopes he will write more, taking into account those who preceded Mr. Burki. Needless to say, the role of the “intellectuals” in the PPP, particularly during the days of Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, is a story that still has not been told.