Academic Freedom in Pakistan

academic freedom pakistan

It is better to remain silent than to hide behind such “centrism”. Providing an alternate viewpoint is not an attack. Would be great if you could quote an example of how the left has attacked academic freedoms in this country.

Academic freedom is a principle sadly under assault from the state, the Right as well as the Left. Time for clarity and solidarity in support of free spaces for expression and dialogue. Historic disparity & the means employed to suppress make it all the more important that what the left/progressives do does not end up validating the principle that the state and the Islamist claim. In our context, progressive ideas need a society that is respectfully discursive.

In our context, Islamists and state violently silence the left and progressives through direct attacks. The left & progressives like many people the over years have modified the message to suit the controlled context (and turned centrists) but to no avail. Some people only end up strengthening the tyranny. There is no centrism here. All fascist tendencies are to be resisted. A society in which state censorship is resisted but self-appointed groups of ‘the righteous’ claiming possession of self-evident historic truths shout down one another is not a society that nurtures freedom.

Pakistan’s version of ‘good people on both sides’ except it’s ‘bad people on both sides’. Academic freedom is always under assault, soon the assault will be coming from the circles within, from activists themselves, professors. there ll be a time when no one would be able to tell social media from academia. Imagined centrism is less of an evil than intellectual incoherence. Inability to articulate principles and live by their consequences without seeking exceptional treatment for one’s side is the incoherence one faces. But relax. This incoherence and the debate around it is not new.

Muddying up the waters on oppression is far worse than openly supporting the oppressor. Using fancy terms to justify ones silence is not new. Only takes a change of guard for “intellectual incoherence” to become historical fact. We have seen this many times already. When has the left “attacked” academic freedom? Questioning why a speaker with a dubious quasi-racist credentials is invited to a festival is altogether different from shutting down a conference. Or am I missing something?

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