– Good afternoon, everybody. It is my distinct pleasure and honor to introduce our next plenary speaker, Doctor Pervez Hoodbhoy. Before I talk a little bit about Dr. Hoodbhoy, I would like to begin by thanking the College, CNAS, the College of Natural Science and Applied Sciences and the Dean of the College, Doctor Jahnke, for supporting this talk. Doctor Hoodbhoy is the Zora and Sisi Ahmed Distinguished Professor at the Formman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan. He has brought distinct international flavor to this conference. I know there are other speakers who are also, come from another, other parts of the world. He has taught for 44 years at Quaid i Azam University in Islamabad, it’s a major university in Pakistan, very well known. Doctor Hoodbhoy is a physicist by training. He got his undergraduate and his graduate degrees from MIT. His undergraduate degree, I think, was in math, and electrical engineering? Electrical engineering and his Ph.D. was in nuclear physics, all from MIT, and after graduating, he has gone back to Pakistan and he’s had a very distinguished career over there. He has been recognized for his work in the science and in popularization of science.
In 1984 he won the Abtus Salam Prize for mathematics. In 2003 he won the UNESCO’s Galinga Prize. He has been a member of the American Physical Society. He has written extensively, talked extensively. If you Google him, go to YouTube, you will see his talks on physics, on science, on physics, science policy, Islam, terrorism, and so on. So he has a very broad background and as a result he has been named as one of the hundred most-influential people by the Foreign Policy magazine.
Currently he’s serving, he’s a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament, and without much further adieu I would like, please give a warm bear welcome to Doctor Pervez Hoodbhoy, and I’m going to turn over this mic to him. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Shavul, for this introduction and thank you, everyone, for being here and for this invitation for me to come from Pakistan. Any lack of logic in my arguments or any incoherence may be safely put down to the 40 hour flight that brought me here to Springfield at one in the morning yesterday.
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you greetings from my country and I would like to congratulate you on your wonderful Constitution. I’m sorry I’m 250 years late but you know, some things can’t be avoided. They’re so wonderful, these statements of your Constitution that, although I try to memorize them, I couldn’t, but this I found outstanding. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, “that all men are created equal, “that they are endowed by their Creator “with certain inalienable rights, that among these “are life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” Now, not all countries of the world have such marvelous constitutions. There are countries, which include mine, that explicitly discriminate between their citizens on the basis of their faith, perhaps their ethnicity as well.
Pakistan does not hold all its citizens to be equal. Iran is a country that is run by a Shia clergy, it’s called the guardianship of the faqih, of the righteous, of the learned. Saudi Arabia does not allow for any religion other than Islam to propagate itself on its soil. And then there are countries that profess to have equality of their citizens but which do not actually practice that. Israel does not have a constitution but that’s because the secularists in Israel and the religious people couldn’t come to an agreement as to what should constitute the document, the constitutional document for Israel and so, they have let things flow, effectively privileging the Jew over the non-Jew.
India, Pakistan’s neighbor is nominally secular but now, there is a strong trend towards making a Hindu state there. So, it is really excellent that you have a Constitution that says that it’s a self-evident truth that we’re all equal. However, you know very well that things have changed and that they may change even further and certainly, if President Trump had his way, I would not be here. He had, during the election, said that the travel of all Muslims, all Muslims, to the United States will henceforth not be allowed but then you had a judiciary which overturned that executive order and I am here. It was only a minor inconvenience that I could not bring my laptop with me on the plane. You know about the new travel rules, but that’s the sort of trend that we are seeing in the United States but not just the United States, you’re seeing this in Europe with Marie Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and you’re seeing this reflected in country after country, certainly in Europe but also elsewhere and that’s a little sad because humanity had made enormous gains at the time of the European Enlightenment.
In fact, the authors of your Constitution were men like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, the guy who flew the kite in the storm and they were inspired by men like Rousseaux, like Diderot, and they brought to the United States these wonderful ideas of equality, of fraternity, the ideals of the French Revolution, the ideals of the Enlightenment. Somehow, that’s going away and it’s going away all over the world and we better understand it because things will get worse if we do not understand where that is coming from. Could this be because of terrorism? Now, terrorism is an awful thing. Terrorism is there to terrify us and, ladies and gentlemen, you all read about the horrors that have been inflicted.
Well, there’s 9/11, but then there have been smaller incidents after that in the United States and Europe, as well. This guy driving a truck on a beach city in France and then very recently what happened on the River Thames but you read about this and probably do not see it from very close, let’s put things in perspective. The United States might have lost a total of maybe 3,000 or 3,500 people since the beginning of this century, 9/11 was 2,500 people, something like that.
But all in all, Europe and the United States, it’s not more than 3,000 people or 3,500, I’m not sure but Pakistan has lost 60,000 people in the last 10 years alone and I have, to my great sorrow, lost people, friends, colleagues, in particular, I cannot forget that night when I heard a gunshot from my neighbor’s house, I rushed over there with my 11 year old daughter running behind me and I found my neighbor lying in a pool of blood with a bullet through his neck, one through his heart. I put him in my car, he died in my car, the blood stains took a long time to go away. And then, year before last, I lost a very dear friend.
She was in Karachi, I live in Islamabad, by the way, and Lahore but she was in Karachi. The last time that I saw her was when we were together protesting against the head of the Red Mosque in Islamabad. We don’t know why she was targeted but she was somebody who believed that Valentine’s Day should be celebrated and eventually, they found the people who had killed her, assassinated her, and this is what they said, “Valentine’s Day, protesting against the clergy, “and such people,” they said, “should not live in Pakistan.” There’s a more recent incident, which I really can’t discuss, talk about publicly over here. Having said all this and having told you how close and personal it has become, let me also say that terrorism is not an existential threat for humanity. Yes, lots of people have been killed but unless terrorists manage to get their hands on nuclear weapons, it’s going to be something bad but it’s not something that’s going to cause the world to collapse and it’s not really the reason why so much of the world is stepping back from those ideas of the Enlightenment and from liberal thought.
So then, it behooves us to try and understand what is changing the United States, Europe, and in fact, other parts of the world as well. Well first, let me tell you what has changed my part of the world, because you see, as we look for the origins of terrorism, we have to see that the reasons are different in different places but that there is also a commonality and that if one is to apportion guilt, then in fact, we are all at different levels guilty.
So, let me begin by telling you how terrorism came to my country and how extremism became the order of the day. I grew up in the city of Karachi where my neighbors were of different religions. There was Zoroastrians, you know, the fire worshipers, there were Christians, and we’d get along, and there was also occasionally a Hindu, but not very many Hindus were left because at the time of partition in 1947, the Hindus had migrated to India. It was a terrible period of history, perhaps the biggest bloodshed of modern times occurred at that time, in 1947. But after partition, and I was born three years after partition, things were, well, more or less normal. So, we had neighbors who were friends, although they were Christians, although they were Zoroastrians, Parsis, and there was even a Sikh over there.
But then this started changing and today, in my neighborhood in Karachi where my 93 year old mother still lives, there is not a single person who is not a Muslim. They’ve all gone, they’ve migrated, it’s become a different city, it’s become a different country and this is the country that has now suffered because of extremism, which has led to terrorism, tens of thousands of people dead. Well, how did it come about? This was 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and this is the time when three countries, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, joined up together to create the first global jihad of history. The Soviets were characterized as belonging to the evil empire, they were evil, evil in a religious sense, not just invaders. And so, Ronald Reagan, President Ronald Reagan ordered the most massive covert operation in the United States history. It required the arming and the training of Islamic warriors from distant parts of the world, from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, the Central Asian countries, and of course Pakistan, and it was a brilliantly executed plan.
They used the madrases in Pakistan as the training ground and the ideological school where the godless Soviets had to be fought because this was to be a holy war, a holy war, mind you, and so the University of Nebraska, here, prepared textbooks, of which I have copies and you can find on the internet. Well, they were in the Pashto language. They would pose questions to third graders and fourth graders, if a communist, and this is in the math syllabus, if a communist is 300 meters away from you and a bullet flies at this speed, how long before it gets to his head, et cetera. You can look these up on the internet if you like. Millions of Korans, the holy books, were provided to these madrases. They were given stinger missiles to shoot down Soviet helicopters with and ultimately, it succeeded.
It succeeded brilliantly in forcing the Soviets out of Afghanistan. The mujahideen were celebrated in the United States by its media, by Ronald Reagan himself in the White House where he made the famous statement, “You leaders,” he’s speaking to the mujahideen, “are the moral equivalent “of the Founding Fathers of America.” So, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, they were the equivalents. Well as I said, it worked brilliantly. The Soviets had to leave, they left, the Soviet Union crumbled and the rest is history. But then, those mujahideen, so the United States after all, the goal was to get the Soviets, they got them, and the Americans walked out and left Pakistan with a big trained army of mujahideen, fighters who knew how to fight. Now of course, we in Pakistan could have said, “Thank you, sirs, you’ve done your job, “now go back to where you came from. “Mr. Osama bin Laden, you’ve done brilliantly, “back to Saudi Arabia you go.” But that didn’t happen, we Pakistanis were guilty of using this trained army against India, we hate India. We want to get Kashmir, the disputed territory from them, so we kept this army of trained mujahideen for our purposes and we wanted Afghanistan to be our backyard, where our troops could retreat in case the Indians were too successful in getting into Pakistan, they have a bigger army, after all.
All this worked except that those mujahideen were actually fighting a holy war and the Soviet Union was just the first step. Next step, the United States. That’s why 9/11 happened. You wouldn’t have had 9/11, you wouldn’t have had Osama bin Laden but for the fact that the Soviet, the evil empire had to be fought and dispensed with. So, that’s how terrorism came to Pakistan and that’s how terrorism then migrated to the United States. It reverberated after 9/11 in Pakistan because look, we had helped create the Taliban. Those were our boys, with American and Saudi Arabian assistance, but now, after 9/11 when George W. Bush put a gun to our president’s head and said, “Are you with us or are you against us?” Our president, General Musharraf said, “I’m with you.” But he wasn’t really sincere about that, he wanted the useful, you know, the mujahideen or the Taliban, they’re really useful because they can help us fight India.
So, he played a double game and that became pretty obvious after a while but when he turned against the Taliban, the Taliban reacted and today, they are split into two. One focuses upon the government of Afghanistan, which is democratically elected and is today supported by the United States and another part of the Taliban turned against the Pakistani state and that is why today, the Pakistani state is under attack, bitter attack by its own creation. So, it’s a very curious part of history that our progeny, Pakistan’s progeny, America’s progeny, and to an extent, Saudi Arabia’s progeny have turned against their creators. So, that’s how terrorism became so big. Well, that’s a bit of history but look, what we have to understand is that terrorism is an irritant, it’s not something, as I said earlier, existential and we really have to keep searching for the reasons why the world is becoming so intolerant, not just in the United States but everywhere. Why is that happening? I am here, you know, I’m looking forward for a dialogue with you because I don’t understand it perfectly myself but it does seem to me that things in the United States have changed a lot since the time that I was a student at MIT, beginning 1969 and returning home in 1973, four years later.
I see the difference between the rich and the poor in America being far greater than it used to be. I see college education as being, now, pretty restricted to the upper echelons of American society. I used to work in a cafeteria and then as a janitor and working 20 hours a week, I could make 1/2 of my total expenses at MIT back in 1969. Today, if I was working, and I was doing minimum wage, $an hour it was in those times, today at the minimum wage, which I guess is eight or nine dollars, something like that, I don’t think I’d be able to make more than an 1/8th of the expenses at MIT, which would be something like 50,000 to 60,000 dollars. All you have to do is look at the statistics, that according to the New York Times, 1% of the richest Americans have more wealth than 90% of the ones at the bottom, 1%. And then there was a Forbes survey, which put the wealth of the 400 richest people in America in 2013, their worth was two trillion dollars. In 2016, that went up to trillion dollars. Look, you can talk about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness but you’re not going to get much happiness when there’s so many poor people.
So, there’s something wrong over here. As I said, I don’t completely understand the reasons for the rise of populism in the American polity, you are much better informed than I am, but I see this as sort of inevitable because back in the seventies, the United States had no rival in terms of the kind of technology that it could develop and it had a virtual monopoly on high technology products of every kind but now, that’s no longer possible. The fact is that with the spreading of technical education, scientific education with the internet, knowledge economies have gone everywhere. Today, China is competing as an economic rival of the United States. The fact that manufacturing can no longer sustain the United States is not because of any particular president’s policies, it’s because the nature of work has changed and it’s going to keep changing.
The fact is that the United States can no longer be the unchallenged leader, the economic leader, or even the military leader of the world anymore and because of the skewed income distribution, you’re gonna have serious, serious problems. When people cannot buy consumer items, the economy’s not going to fly. But who am I to say what should happen over here? The problem is that when things go wrong, you always blame it on the foreigner. It’s not you, everyone blames it on the foreigner. We blame our terrorism, the terrorism that happens in Pakistan, not upon our madras graduates, those guys who are brainwashed and programmed into murder and suicide, we blame the Indians. We blame now the Afghans, who were earlier on, our brothers. We blame, oh, Israel, we blame now, very interesting, we blame Iran, why Iran? Because Iran is Shia and Pakistan is 80% Sunni and 20% Shia, so we blame everybody except our own selves for the problems that we have. See, this is natural. Humans, in times of crises, they retreat into primitivism, you go for your tribe or you go for your country, or you go for your religion and it’s becoming worse everyday.
And as I said, it’s global. 40 years ago, I read a book by Alvin Toffler called Future Shock and there, Toffler makes the argument that the world is going through a tremendous crisis and this crisis is gonna become worse because humans cannot sustain more than a certain rate of change and yet, technology is forcing the world to change in ways that make us disconnected with our past and indeed, the way that kids grow up in Pakistan today has got nothing to do with how their parents grew up, much less their grandparents. And all this is causing a lot of social dislocation. The migration from rural to urban, not so much in the U.S. I guess but in developing countries, it’s causing cities to explode with population. So, these are the real drivers of change and now, the question, and I’m going to end at this, is how does one combat this? How does one stop this retreat into primitivism? You are primitive when you go for your tribe.
You are primitive when you go for your country. You’re primitive when you go for your religion. That’s what the Enlightenment said. The Enlightenment was all about we are all created equal, so how does one stop that? I don’t know, except for one thing that we all have to do. We have to now understand our biological roots, understand that our genes make us selfish, understand that the way to break out of that is through the exercise of human rationality, understand that it’s all accidental whether you were born black or brown or white or in this part of the world or that part of the world, on this side of the border or that side of the border. You know, I have such a lot of fun with my students, I say to them, “Okay, you hate India “and you think Islam is the best religion “but I want to ask you, put your hands up please, “how many of you chose to be born Muslim “and how many of you chose to be born Pakistani?” I see no hands, no hands, well? So I said, “If you were born on that side of the border, “how would you be feeling about Pakistan?” And so, I tell my students, “Guys, grow up, grow up.
“It’s all accidental, you didn’t choose your parents, “you didn’t choose your country, “you didn’t choose your religion, “let’s all become humanists.” So, I think that’s the way to go. It’s true there, it’s true here, it’s true everywhere. This planet has shrunk, borders are irrelevant, and the sooner we realize that, the greater our chances of survival as a species. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) – We are going to open the floor to questions. Do we have microphones? There’s one over there, is there one on that side? So, we have two microphones over here, so if you have a question, please raise your hand and we’ll have someone go, questions? – You know, my question was that one of the things you mentioned was that, what initially happened in Afghanistan was what led to the explosion of extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, do you see any parallels between what is going on in Syria right now with ISIS and what happened back in the eighties in Pakistan? – Oh, absolutely. There is a very clear parallel over there.
We saw that with the invasion of Iraq, the overturning of a dictator, Saddam Hussein, that complete chaos and anarchy broke out and the only organized groups over there were Islamist groups and then from the prison where these Islamists were kept, from there grew ISIS, or Da’ish, as they’re called, the Islamic state grew from the invasion of Iraq, one that has caused of course terrible misery for the people of Iraq. But ISIS has, fortunately, it is being defeated right now in Mosul and in much of Syria and Iraq but it is going to remain potent for a very long time. It will metamorphose into other forms, which hopefully also will be contained but really, it comes from unthoughtful military action and so the parallel, and thank you for bringing my attention towards that, the parallel is quite obvious.
Yeah, this, him. – Um, so as you are a member of the UN Council on Disarmament Affairs, how can students and citizens– – Can you speak louder? – How can students and citizens affect their governments to work together to a more nuclear disarmed society, to combat the threat that it opposes to… – You will have to– – Yeah, I can repeat that. So, how can citizens speak to their government and properly advocate for disarmament in the long term and how can that properly be done? – There are peace movements in every country of the world. By yourself, you cannot change anything but by joining up with other people, becoming part of a movement that opposes war and opposes the export of arms, I think that individuals can make a difference. Now, the world is going to, in the deliberations that we’ve had in the United Nations on this issue, on the issue of new weapons, I think there are frightening new weapons systems that are coming up and these will reduce our ability to do anything meaningful unless they’re opposed now.
Very soon, we’re going to be dealing with autonomous weapons systems, not semi-autonomous but autonomous weapons systems, those that make their own decisions on who to kill and who to spare. So, as citizens of the world, we must oppose new developments in weaponry and particularly those which leave killing to machines. – You talked about terrorism, how do you see the end of the terrorism? And you also talked about men not being treated equally in certain parts of the world, how do we find a solution to that? – The terrorism is of two kinds. It is that which is perpetrated by organized groups and that which is perpetrated by disconnected individuals like, for example, what happened just a few days ago on the London Bridge, Westminster on the River Thames.
I don’t think there’s very much you can do about that. You cannot know in advance that a particular individual has gone haywire, has an intent to kill. I guess the lethality can be controlled by not allowing that individual or individuals to have access to guns but beyond that, I don’t think there’s much that can be done about individual acts of terrorism. They will continue to occur, however much we don’t want that to happen. But in terms of organized groups and among organized groups today, I think the most lethal is the Islamic State, Taliban, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, and so forth, there it needs a national effort and one in which one must use all techniques that are discriminate, that do not have collateral damage or effects and these groups must be destroyed.
Their sources of funding must be tracked down. Their leaders should be killed and I do not believe there is a point in negotiating with them. At the same time, we have to be very careful that there should not be the killing of innocents and quite a bit of that has happened in Afghanistan and in Pakistan through U.S. drone strikes. Now, I don’t mean to open that up over here because it’s a complex issue. I do believe that certain kinds of drone strikes are justified, I am extremely unpopular for having said that but I do not believe that signature strikes should be sanctioned. Signature strikes are that, oh, you see bearded guys getting into a pickup truck with weapons, that’s not good enough because that’s, there are lots of bearded guys in that part of the world and lots of people carry guns. So, it has to be much more specific, much more directed because collateral damage, collateral killings then lead to a dynamic of their own causing more terrorism rather than less.
– Um, you talked about how the world is changing now faster than it used to change before. The American population and its politics is also changing and has been changing more throughout the years in the last decades and the Republican and the Democratic parties in the United States now seem to be more different from each other. You called for humanism, how those two parties that seem to be so different and have such division, can find a middle point where they can become and also influence their population to be more humanist? – As I understand your question, how can humanist politics be augmented, enhanced in the United States, is that what it is? Well, I think you have wonderful people among your Congressmen and Senators and you have wonderful intellectuals here in the United States. This is a very vibrant, and it’s a very forward-looking society that unfortunately has regressed in some ways but hopefully this is a temporary phenomenon. I think that a swing to the extreme right will be followed by a reassessment of what is good, not just for America but for the world.
Because of an education system that you can very rightly be proud of, you do not have the kind of fanaticism that I, unfortunately, have to see so much of the time. So, I would be very hopeful for the United States and I would also say that a lot of the United States future will depend a lot upon how well you preserve your educational system to the extent that you can maintain critical inquiry, diversity of opinion, and emphasis on the liberal arts. I’m a physicist and I love physics but I also see how important it is for students to be exposed to wider ideas and to the idea of global citizenship. So, I’m hopeful for you. – What does it look like for you, as a member on the U.N. Secretary General’s advisory board– – Can you speak louder? – I was asking what it looks like for you, as a member on the U.N.
Secretary General’s advisory board on disarmament affairs? – What about it? – So, like, what do you do? – What do we do, oh, we talk. (laughing) We cannot do anything, I’m very frustrated. But to talk is the only thing we can do. The United Nations does not have an army. The United Nations does not have a single opinion. One sees things going wrong but the power to change things is not with the U.N. It acts as a moral authority at best. I also want to share my discomfort because the members of various U.N. panels are drawn from their country’s establishments. I don’t know why they picked me because I’m not representing the Pakistani establishment. I don’t like establishments anywhere. If people in U.N.
Panels could speak as global citizens, as those cognizant of the dangers that the whole globe is now facing, I think we would have greater moral authority of the U.N. but we still wouldn’t be able to do anything. – Where do you see the Pakistani government’s response to terrorism going in the future and do you think that the increased threat of U.S. involvement in the Middle East will have any effect on it? – I’m sorry, can you repeat the question? It’s coming in a bit muffled over here. Speak slowly, please. – Where do you see the Pakistani government’s response to terrorism going in the future and do you believe that the increased threat of the United States involvement in the Middle East again will have any effect on those decisions? – If you’re talking about Syria, I feel that I am not qualified to answer the question because it is a civil war in Syria and the intervention of external actors, which means the United States, Russia, and Iran is not bringing peace to Syria.
Each of these actors, these foreign actors have their own pet groups which they support over there and I don’t know which group is doing the most wrong to the people there, so I do not think that increasing U.S. presence or Russian presence or Iranian presence is conducive to peace in Syria. But now that it’s in flames, well, I just don’t know what is the right course over there. All I know is that in other parts of the Middle East, particularly Yemen, the United States is not doing the right thing by siding with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the most regressive Muslim country on this planet. 14 of 15 of the hijackers who flew into the World Trade Center were from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is funding the most reactionary, most regressive preachers to go all over the world, including the United States and Pakistan and now, Saudi Arabia has invaded Yemen, its neighbor. The United States is helping Saudi Arabia with various kinds of weaponry, including band weaponry and I think this has been very adequately documented by human rights groups.
So, I am not for more U.S. intervention in the Middle East. – So as a physicist, do you think it is still justified for any country, North Korea or Pakistan or America even, to own nuclear weapon of any sort? – Ah, you know my answer. (chuckling) I have spent the last 30 years campaigning against Pakistani nuclear weapons. There’s no point in my telling America not to have nuclear weapons because they won’t listen to me. Well, not that the Pakistani government will listen to me but certainly on our respective sides of the border, Indians and Pakistanis have, on occasion, got together and made their discomfort with nuclear weapons known to the world. In fact, two years ago, I edited a book called Confronting the Bomb, Pakistani and Indian Scientists Speak Out. The fact that both countries have got nuclear weapons is something that’s waiting for a tragedy to happen. Right now in the United Nations, there’s a major move towards getting rid of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, nuclear weapon countries, all of them, which means all of them, seven of them, they are boycotting those discussions.
Nevertheless, I feel that the majority of nations saying that they do not want nuclear weapons is a force, is a moral force that eventually, someday, will have to be listened to. – I was wondering if you could speak to the perception that there’s something within the Islam religion itself that condones violence or has a small group of violent terrorists in effect hijacked and perverted the religion. – I do not believe it is a small group and yet, I do not believe also that the majority of Muslims sanction terrorism.
Islam has not changed but Muslims have changed a lot and they have changed over the last 30 years more than they have changed in the last three centuries. I think there’s a little bit of history that I must absolutely tell you in response to your question. If you were to look back into the middle of the 20th century and you were to ask what do the leaders of different Muslim countries believe in, you would have seen in Indonesia a communist, Sukarno, in Egypt and a nationalist, Nasir, Abdul Jamal Nasir, in Iran, you would have seen Mohammad Mosaddegh, and in Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and later, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in Algeria, Ben Bella, et cetera.
Nowhere would you have seen a fundamentalist and nowhere would you have seen a population that was inclined toward fundamentalism. In fact, Muslims were becoming part of the modern world at that time. Then something happened. You had the coup in Iran, it was organized by the CIA because they wanted to get Standard Oil in there and Mossadegh was out, the Shia of Iran came, and then the reaction against the Shia led to Khomeini and the rest you know. The defeat at the hands of Israel caused Nasir and the entire Pan-Arabism to collapse and everywhere, you saw secular governments and they were only secular governments once upon a time in the Muslim world, you had secular governments crash.
Sometimes, it was just because of internal reasons but then, very often it was because, well, the Western powers, the United States, too, wanted natural resources and this was at the time of the Cold War, everything was seen from the Cold War lens. So if you ask me today, no, if you had asked at that time, do Muslims support terrorism? The answer would have been a flat no, flat no. Today, there’s ambivalence because the culture has changed. I’m hopeful because if earlier on, we could have had an absolute rejection of terrorism, of even violent jihad, then maybe we can return to that but it all depends upon the political climate and I do believe that human rationality can be brought into action and therefore, we can go back someday. – I will make this brief. So, with the accumulating exportation of arms to terrorist groups, as well as the small threats like the London Bridge, what is your overall prediction of how this is going to turn out with the small amount of control that we have.
– I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get it. – So, we have an accumulating exportation of arms and small threats, including the London Bridge. I just wanna know what your prediction is of the overall outcome, if it’ll be war or what your prediction is. – I do not have a crystal ball and I cannot predict but certainly, if there is consciousness on what causes terrorism and what the impact of weapons, the export of weapons is, then we can get a handle on that but in terms of predictions, I don’t know.
I don’t know what’s going to happen about North Korea. Things are in such a flux over there. If one takes a wrong move, it would precipitate a war that could become nuclear. Ditto for India, Pakistan, so wherever there are tensions, one needs to tread very carefully. – Let’s take one last question and then we’ll move on. – So, you proposed that change should occur and it always is occurring but the thing about humans is change is difficult for them. So, if you push it too hard, it nearly always fails but we need change in order for things to get better. So, where’s the balance of trying to convert these types of thoughts, these ways of thinking into rational ways of thinking? How hard should we push to avoid making the process fail or should we just let it go naturally like it has been over years? – You need to think globally but act locally and act with all the power that you have.
When it comes to your next elections, you have to become part of that. You have to become part of a team which, in your opinion, will get the candidate who promotes peace into a position of power. And this is not just for you, this is for people around the world. We all have to act looking at our particular circumstances and they’re different for different people as they’re different for different countries but the goal has to be one. The goal has to be a world that is cognizant of the smallness of the planet and that means a lot. It means climate change, which is certainly happening.
It means avoidance of war. It means settlement of disputes in a manner which is just. It means controlling terrorism and acting in ways so that, without restricting personal freedoms too much, yet terrorism cannot be allowed to become a major threat. So, there are lots of things for us to do and it’s different for different peoples but you’ve got to push hard, you’ve got to push as hard as you possibly can. – Let us thank Professor Hoodbhoy one more time.
(audience applauding) And I have one more quick announcement. Professor Hoodbhoy will be giving a technical talk in the Physics Department tomorrow at 4 p.m. So, if you want to know more about Schrodinger’s Cat, not from The Big Bang Theory but the real Schrodinger’s Cat, I would like to invite– – And black holes. – And black holes, yes. And I would like to invite you for that seminar. The seminar will be in Kemper Room 206 at four o’clock tomorrow and thank you very much. (audience applauding)