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Travails of a Nation


Vivek Kumar

SOCIAL SCIENCE IN PAKISTAN IN THE 1990S
Edited by S. Akbar Zaidi
Council of Social Sciences Pakistan, Islamabad, 2003, pp. 319, Rs. 150.00

VOLUME XXVIII NUMBER 7 July 2004

The work under review is a unique collection of articles included in the rubric of social sciences depicting its problems and prospects in a young nation characterized by the bureaucratic and authoritarian state. The collection published by the Council of Social Sciences (COSS), Pakistan established only in June 2000, speaks for itself for the nascent stage in which social sciences in the country are.   The volume contains ten articles along with a general introduction. The writers include a sprinkling of historians, sociologists, economists and communication experts, but the economists dominate. Three articles are by economists and they cover a range from economic development of Pakistan to the research and teaching of economics as a subject in the country. A historical analysis of economics as a profession in the country raises an added interest in this area. Nadeem Ul Haque and Mahmood Hasan Khan have candidly accepted that, in “Pakistan, for a variety of reasons, the economics profession has been dominated by practitioners, initially bureaucrats, rather than by those who have academic and research interests. ” They are also concerned that because of the lack of a forum to discuss the challenges faced by the professional economists in Pakistan the economist’s profession may become an endangered species and cease to matter much in shaping of future economic policies.   The only article by a sociologist Hasan N. Gardezi highlights the history of sociology of Pakistan from the early 1950s to 1990s. The paper deals with the issues of academic recognition of sociology as a subject that came only in 1955. Gardezi emphasizes the dismal performance of professional organizations of sociologists in Pakistan and overdominance of American sociology in the subject. Pakistan is a predominantly rural society hence sociologists have followed a trend in focussing on the social organization of village life in the discipline. Though the writer covers the issues of traditional nature in the article he has not taken note of the new developments in sociology as a subject dealing with issues like identity, ethnicity and globalization.   An important paper by Rubina Saigol in the book throws some light on how the content of curriculum of History, Social Studies and Civics in Pakistan have contributed in the construction of images of enemies with special reference to India and Pakistan. The writer opines, “The puzzling question is why do the textbooks, produced in 2001 and 2002, continue to reproduce the ideology of hate and otherness” (p.277) ...


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