The book under review is the outcome of a Herculean task of reviewing the status of both pure and interdisciplinary disciplines of the social sciences in Pakistan. The review has been done on the basis of quantitative growth, qualitative development and identification of the factors that limited or fostered the disciplines. Without following any chronology of the development disciplines the editors have collected the articles on different disciplines randomly. For instance International relations which is relatively new and interdisciplinary subject has been discussed ahead of Economics, Anthropology or Sociology. Three major challenges that the teaching and research in the field of International Relations in Pakistan face are, one, lack of theoretical orientation of the courses, second, its weak multidisciplinary character. The third challenge is the lack of nexus between the policy makers and the Pakistani academia (p.25). Inayatullah emphasizes that, “The discipline of Political Science in Pakistan compared to its counterparts in the West and India remains underdeveloped both quantitatively and qualitatively…
The new developments in the discipline at the international level have only marginally touched it” (p.46). Ayesha Siddiqa mentions that Strategic Studies in Pakistan were the outcome of circumstances in which the armed forces started to build themselves after 1947 where there was no infrastructure for the building and training of armed forces. This discipline heavily relies on Economics, History, Sociology, Geography etc. A lengthy fifty page review on the state of Educational Discourse by Rubina Saigol argues, “Despite an extensive and intensive critique of the liberal structural-functional prardigm borrowed from the thought of Durkhiem and Parsons the majority of educators in Pakistan, remained caught within the structural-functional and liberal view of education as a social equalizer, instead of seeing it as one more source of inequality in society…Most of the curricular content in Pakistan remained hostage to the controversial two nation paradigm, especially in Social Studies, Pakistan Studies, Islamiyat and language teaching…While educators in India developed sophisticated critiques of how education reproduces the existing social order and class relationship…in Pakistan the mainstream educational establishment remained unaware of the worldwide scathing critiques of a liberal and positivist education” (p.81).
Mohammad Ashraf Adeel traces the 55-year-old history of discipline of Philosophy and emphasizes that Islamic Philosophy relating to Pakistani culture, its identity and problems is taught in all the departments. Further, these departments have been playing an important role in keeping Pakistan in contact with the intellectual life of the West. And argues that “interest in the Western Philosophy has been the continuous cultural challenge that the innovative and dynamic Western culture has continued to present to rather stagnant Islamic societies for the last many centuries”(p.135). The state of Psychology as a discipline can be judged by the fact that 80 to 90 per cent students are girls and there is no one who is known as a regular contributor to a magazine or newspaper. In this context Muhammad Pervez and Kamran Ahmad reveal, “In terms of the level of research, Psychology still has low contribution to overall understanding of social issues and psyche of the nation and development” (p.167). Kamran Ali depicts that Economics is one of the three disciplines that Pakistan inherited from pre-partition India, along with History and Political Science. He claims that there is an impressive quantitative growth in the field of Economics but qualitatively the subject has suffered because of the “production of applied economists who can contribute to the planned process of economic development of the country and almost indifference towards the production of economists that could contribute to the development of the discipline itself” (p.193). For Sociology in Pakistan Muhamamd Hafeez argues that since 1955 when sociology became an independent subject of study at MA level it has not played its envisaged role towards progress in Pakistani society. He writes, “ The country remains fragmented politically, racially, religiously and ethnically…The division on the basis of religious sect and caste have swelled over the last two decades, which shows the little role this subject has played in addressing this important social problem” (p. 205).
Nadeem Omar Tarar opines that Anthropology started in the 1970s with the help of a large number of German and American anthropologists. The researchers have predominantly used an evolutionary and structural functionalist paradigm for their stereotypical studies of village community, castes, and tribes. The preferred area of research is in a process of social change in Pakistani rural society, especially in small communities and tribal groups (p.228). Writing about the development of History discipline Mubarak Ali portrays the scene: “Because of ideological consideration the subject has suffered immensely. To date no decision has been taken as to how to treat the ancient past. Should we ignore ancient history because it is pre-Islamic? How do we deal with the Mediaeval period, when Muslim dynasties ruled over India and Delhi and Agra were the centers of power, while the present territories of Pakistan were on the periphery of their Kingdoms? Some historians have tried to solve this problem by arguing that the history of Pakistan should start from 711-12 AD—the date of the Arab invasion of Sindh. Another approach suggests that the starting point should be 1947” (p.239).
Zafar Iqbal Jadoon and Nasira Jabeen argue that public finance, comparative administration, development administration were an integral part of the curriculum and the subject is becoming very popular as it has an ability to provide employment to students. Another subject, which is on high priority is Journalism and Mass Communication says Mehdi Hasan who traces its development since 1941. Writing on ‘Area Studies in Pakistan’ Muhammad Islam, reveals that it started in 1973 against the backdrop of 1971 crisis. This was approved by National Educational Policy because it was necessary to study the foreign societies, which affect the national interests of Pakistan and help in the policy formulation, he opines.
Syed Jaffar Ahmed argues that the numerous facts from historical, anthropological, religious, social, political, economic etc., were merged into a multidisciplinary framework to form the core of Pakistani Studies which were introduced in 1970. Now it has become a compulsory subject, taught at different levels of school and college education. Rubina Saigol defines the major objectives of Women’s Studies in Pakistan as a critical examination of concepts, theories, models and methodologies that have been responsible for excluding or rendering women invisible in scientific investigation and development, incorporation of knowledge on women and contributions by women scholars, creation of awareness and sensitization about women issues at the community level, promotion of academic and action oriented research on women in development (p.357).
Moonis Ahmar & Farhan H. Siddiqui emphasize that though “Peace and Conflict Studies” help to understand why conflicts take place and how they could be prevented and resolved yet the discipline has not been institutionalized in Pakistan (p.390). One is astonished to hear that in a linguistically rich area like Pakistan Linguistics is not taught as an autonomous discipline. That is why there are no organizations and journals on the subject says, Tariq Rahman. ‘NGOs to Social Science Research in Pakistan’ by Anwar Shaheen depicts that at the turn of the century, the NGOs are growing with the functions of advocacy and research. Paper on Quantitative Development of Social Sciences by Pervez Tahir reveals that Pakistan has 17300 social scientists and 149 social science departments, institutes and centers and other related facts. The rigorous evaluation of social sciences disciplines is done with a vision that gives validity, accuracy and a scientific status.
Vivek Kumar is Assistant Professor at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.