Javed Jabbar vs. Pervez Hoodbhoy: Round 1 – Pakistan

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 Mr. Jabbar has declined to respond to Mr. Hoodbhoy’s contention. He has dodged the assertion by channeling it into a completely different direction. He defines confusion as change and evolution. I doubt if anyone will subscribe to this definition. The dictionary defines confusion as follows: “uncertainty about what is happening, intended, or required” and “the state of being bewildered or unclear in one’s mind about something.”

By Anjum Altaf

 Pervez Hoodbhoy: Pakistan is in a state of confusion because it was born in a state of confusion.

Javed Jabbar: Confusion. Confusion is actually good. Confusion means change; confusion means evolution. Every nation evolves. The United States in the late 18th Century had a declaration which said “all men are created equal.” Equal? The Afro-African Blacks were never equal. The Native Americans were never equal. Even in the 21st Century they are fighting for equality with White Americans. Pakistan from the word go said “all citizens are equal.” The French revolution said Liberty, Fraternity and Equality. It took France 150 years to give women the right to vote in 1944 – Evolution. Not confusion.

 Analysis

In this case, we can set aside Dr. Hoodbhoy’s assertion because, whatever its merit, Mr. Jabbar has declined to respond to it. He has dodged the assertion by channeling it into a completely different direction.

The only connection of the response to the assertion is the repetition of the first word “Confusion.” After that, Mr. Jabbar makes an assertion of his own — that “Confusion is actually good.” This is strange because, while confusion might do some good at times, in general it is not considered a positive state or attribute. When one says to someone “You are totally confused,” it can rarely be interpreted as saying “You are a really good fellow.”

Next, Mr. Jabbar defines confusion as change and evolution. I doubt if anyone will subscribe to this definition. The dictionary defines confusion as follows: “uncertainty about what is happening, intended, or required” and “the state of being bewildered or unclear in one’s mind about something.” The synonyms offered by the dictionary for ‘confusion’ are uncertainty, indecision, hesitation, bewilderment, perplexity, puzzlement, etc. all of which have negative connotations. There is not even a remote connection to change or evolution.

Mr. Jabbar then makes the statement “Every nation evolves” which, whatever it means, does not address Dr. Hoodbhoy’s statement. If this means that every nation changes, it is a truism since one cannot really expect that any nation would stay frozen over time. If it means that every nation develops or grows, this is by no means a certainty. There are many examples of nations and even civilizations declining.

Following this, Mr. Jabbar takes the response in the direction of “Equality” with examples that Native Americans or Afro-Americans were never equal in the United States and that women in France got the vote only in 1944. But what has this got to do with Mr. Hoodbhoy’s statement which was not even remotely concerned with equality in Pakistan unless Mr. Jabbar redefines confusion to mean equality or inequality as well.

Mr. Jabbar ends his response with a curt “Evolution. Not Confusion.” One can concede that Pakistan is evolving but that sheds no light on whether either it’s starting point or its state today can be characterized as one of confusion in its standard meaning of being uncertain or bewildering.

This is a really puzzling response given that Mr. Jabbar had infinite time at his disposal to think through and frame his answer. One can only conclude that he really had no answer and decided to evade the question by talking of completely unrelated things.

If this were a real boxing match, I would award it here to Dr. Hoodbhoy by a Technical Knock-Out (TKO). But, it is not and the contest has to continue. I only hope that Mr. Jabbar recovers and picks up his performance to make the challenge of greater interest to readers.

ROUND 1 to Hoodbhoy (by default)

(This is the first of the series of articles, a detailed analysis of former Minister and Senator Javed Jabbar’s video he had released in response to a speech of Prof. Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy at a literary festival in Karachi. The analytical articles will appear here twice a week – Tuesday and Friday. The Preamble of the analysis can be read by clicking here at Sindh Courier

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The writer has PhD from Stanford University. He was a Dean at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and Provost at Habib University in Karachi.

 

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