Let us become — proudly — bayghairat

Published: May 6, 2012

The writer teaches physics and political science at LUMS. He holds a doctorate in physics from MIT

Pakistan’s current and aspiring political leaders can rarely give a public speech these days without invoking ghairat (honour) in some shape or form. Rather than present plans for reducing unemployment or providing electricity, they talk about shame and honour. The ultimate insult ‘bayghairat’ (without honour) is sometimes hurled onto an opponent. Adrenalin levels shoot even higher when they speak of America and “breaking the chains of slavery”. The more morally and intellectually bankrupt a leader, the louder he thunders about qaumi ghairat (national honour).

This time-tested formula has worked wherever a people have been dispirited and dejected. For example, Hitler’s meteoric rise to power, culminating in the most destructive war of history, came from appealing to the collective ghairat of the German nation and to the alleged cowardice and corruption of its rulers.

Hitler’s famous Munich beer hall speeches were followed up in Mein Kampf: “A nation without honour will sooner or later lose its freedom and independence… a generation of poltroons is not entitled to freedom. He who would be a slave cannot have honour.”  Translated into Urdu, these lines are exactly what one hears on TV these days from men like Imran Khan and Hamid Gul.

The real implication of ghairat hit me for the first time some twenty years ago. A group of seven senior military officers, then studying operational matters at the National Defence College, had come to meet me at the physics department of Quaid-i-Azam University. Nuclear weapons were new at that time and, quite sensibly, they were keen to learn technical details from every available source. Although Pakistan did not officially acknowledge possessing such weapons then, the process of inducting them into the forces had already begun.

We had a good discussion on everything from blast radii and firestorms to electronic locks and PALS (Permissive Action Links). The officers took copious notes and appeared satisfied. As they prepared to leave I asked what circumstances, in their opinion,would warrant the use of nuclear weapons by Pakistan.

After some reflection one officer spoke up: “Professor,” he assured me, “they shall be used only defensively if at all, and only if the Pakistan Army faces defeat. We cannot allow ourselves to be dishonoured.” Around the table, heads nodded in agreement. Significantly, the calculus of destruction — that cities would be obliterated on both sides — was not what mattered. Ghairat did.

The same question put to Indian military officers would probably elicit the same answer. Historically, honour has driven armies to fight battles. Even as the officer spoke, my thoughts wandered to The Charge of the Light Brigade. During the Crimean War of 1854, wave after wave of honour-charged British soldiers rode their horses into the mouths of Russian guns which, of course, promptly mowed them down. Tennyson later immortalised the slain men in his famous poem: “All the world wonder’d. Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade.”

The honour-driven Japanese samurai were even more extreme. As agents for various lords, shoguns, and the Emperor, their duties involved keeping peasants in line as well as fighting wars. Honest and dedicated, they were a model for ordinary Japanese. When a samurai lost honour, he could save his dignity only through hara-kiri (cutting open his belly).The last days of World War II turned samurais into suicide bombers who (unsuccessfully) flew planes into US aircraft carriers. Their actions ultimately brought the atom bomb to Japan.

A curse upon honour! It brings to a nation nought but militarisation, conquest, conflict, and the pain of war. On the other hand, where reason has defeated honour, the results have been spectacular. For example, in the ashes of WW II lay two thoroughly defeated and dishonoured nations: Germany and Japan. Had they remained stubbornly defiant, they would still be squatting there today. But, overcoming pride and honour, the vanquished accepted defeat and made peace with the victors. Today they are among the most advanced of nations, and major aid donors to Pakistan.

Vietnam is another amazing example. After 20 bitter years of war it won but was devastated. American B-52s had flattened its cities, while napalm and Agent Orange had devastated its villages and jungles. Yet, tossing aside honour and vengeance, Vietnam today reaches out to its former tormentors and invites their companies and investment. It is a country with a future.

Compare the bayghairat Vietnamese to Afghanistan’s ghairat-obsessed people. Proud and unconquerable, they had earlier fought off the British and the Soviets; soon the Americans will too be gone. But, post-2014, what awaits them? Only more blood and sorrow, and yet another civil war.

Anthropologists tell us that honour is a concept that originated in herding societies because a tribal man’s animals and women were protected from other tribesmen by a code of honour. But then, as tribes amalgamated and merged into the larger stream of civilisation, differing notions of honour led to strife. Traditional societies of the present era, in which honour plays a larger role, are relatively more violent than modern ones. The ease with which men kill their wives and daughters for sexual misconduct is but one example; there are scores of others.

Still, there are some in the West (see Sacred tribal values by J Gold & C Kammen, 1998), as well as here in Pakistan, who call for a return to tribal values. Perhaps one must hear them sympathetically because not all of what they say is bad. They hark back to the days when life was simple, good could easily be separated from bad, there was a spirit of community, and science had not made us into “One Dimensional Man” (in the words of the German philosopher Herbert Marcuse). They are nostalgic about what the world looked like centuries ago, all without having seen it or being aware of the downsides. Alas, they imagine false utopias.

A culture of honour is fine for the herders of goats and camels, or those who live in unpoliceable mountainous areas. But a culture of honour is disastrous for us, a nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people who want jobs, electricity, and the fruits of modernity.So, to hell with the fakery of meaningless honour! Instead, let us create a culture of law and reason, of compassion and tolerance. Let us become — proudly — bayghairat.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.

The Most Popular News of the day in your Inbox daily.

Reader Comments (238)

  • Wasim Irfan
    May 6, 2012 - 10:03PM

    This macho obsession with ‘ghairat’ has destroyed our society.It’s not just the rulers but the public as well,that uses ghairat as an excuse and a motivation for all sorts of horrible crimes.Our men have been obsessed with saving their ghairat and its often the poor women of the family who pay a heavy price for saving ghairat of the men.This ghairat concept is an antiquated thinking that belongs in the times of the cavemen.


  • M I Khan
    May 6, 2012 - 10:05PM

    Brilliant as always Prof Hoodbhoy! Beggars and impotents cannot be ‘baaghairat’!


  • Imran Naseer
    May 6, 2012 - 10:06PM

    Ghairat has destroyed us at the national level as well as in our private lives. The damage caused by the ghairat brigade is obvious for all to see.Men get license to behave as animals under the cover of ghairat.Killing your wife,sister or mother and calling it for the sake of ghairat is considered as socially acceptable behaviour in our society.
    Women in pakistan are the biggest victims of the ghairat of men.


  • Asad Munir
    May 6, 2012 - 10:09PM



  • Azhar Ayaz,
    May 6, 2012 - 10:13PM

    Great peice of writing!


  • soul for peace
    May 6, 2012 - 10:25PM

    Simply superb Sir…brilliant piece…congrats from India.


  • Adnan Khan
    May 6, 2012 - 10:28PM

    Anybody who has lived in the west and seen how much they value national “honor” and personal “dignity”, will find this piece by Pervez, hilarious. The examples he has given, are all societies that have never ceased to worship their race, culture and ethnicity.
    People with lack of faith, are sadly besotted with the curse of ‘beyghairati’ and are destined to live their lives in dishonor.
    Being proud of one’s heritage, people and land is not such a bad thing.Recommend

  • Mansoor
    May 6, 2012 - 10:28PM



  • Ali q
    May 6, 2012 - 10:32PM

    Notwithstanding the problems those who proclaim ghairat have caused, the outcomes of our foreign policy so far are NO less inspiring; surely there is some middle ground to be found. Eg. I particularly liked IK’s proposition recently – he said he’d be willing to co-operate with the US in a peaceful people led process in the region, with military strength to be used as a tool to be used hesitantly – and he’d guarantee Pakistan’s soil will not be used to instigate terror abroad (eg. In that framework, it is reasonable to expect IK would open up the NATO supply line, provided its used to withdraw forces). The decision is not necessarily a ghairatmand position, but it finds that right mix, unlike our current foreign policy which has us stuck between the taliban, drones and increased intolerance. What IK proposes is an example of a practical policy, that paves way for peace & would give the pakistani people the space necessary to address deeper issues like intolerance.


  • Musalman
    May 6, 2012 - 10:37PM

    Well, why is Barack Obama not apologizing to Pakistan? Is that not because his stance will be made weaker in the upcoming elections? Is that not because he will be seen as beyghairat?


  • ishtiaer hussain
    May 6, 2012 - 10:43PM

    When beggars try to be chooser, soon they become losers.


  • Hamza khan
    May 6, 2012 - 10:43PM

    As always , a typical Hoodbhoyian article with a unique dimension of thinking…Striking for a few and unacceptable for the major lot …..:)


  • Umer
    May 6, 2012 - 10:43PM


    Well, why is Barack Obama not
    apologizing to Pakistan?

    Because he doesn’t think he has done anything wrong but if the US had to apologise they did apologise in case of Shah Rukh Khan incident.


  • Hamza Jehangir
    May 6, 2012 - 10:49PM

    He has completely misquoted Marcuse. I mean yes, honor and all that and it’s negative consequences but honor is vital for us. Nuclear pessimism or optimism aside, it would be more appropriate for us to discuss the misuse of the concept of honor rather than treating it as an abnormality in totality, the post-modern liberal sense that Hoodbhoy treats it. I agree with some of his points, yes it is dangerous to take up honor as a subject of a political movement but we need to find another alternative than what Hoodbhoy offers us.

    Yes so lets become the one-dimensional man and be reduced to our animalistic traits rather than being what seperates man from animals, his ability to create “moments of truth” as Badiou calls them. a country which is beset its course on the achievement of liberal democracy with western values, a Fukayamist end which has already been treated with utter contempt by intellectuals in Europe.

    I say let us rather than treating honor as an erroneous political concept in absolute terms, lets employ it in a constructive way and take it forward because we need it more than ever. I’m not IK supporter but Hoodbhoy is wrong here. Marcuse talked about the one-dimensional man in context of the era of enlightenment and the effect of capitalist relations of production that science brought about by its association with the industrialization in Europe. In that sense his work still holds value today and perhaps more so than before. Perhaps the Professor should’ve mentioned the context rather than berating Marcuse with his liberal stick.Recommend

  • Ghairat Brigade
    May 6, 2012 - 10:49PM

    You see, the truth is, the problems of unemployment and electricity shortage cannot be resolved by becoming beyghairat. the parties in power, PPP, MQM, ANP are secular parties. It has been so for the last four years. We have yet to see anything positive coming from the beyghairat brigade.
    Unemployment and load shedding. We will be taking the first step toward solving these problems when we stop the billions-worth-corruption that is committed by the secular beyghairat brigade
    Only beyghairat people can be corrupt. Only beyghairat politicians can live 5 star lives on the expense of the common man.Recommend

  • Sajid
    May 6, 2012 - 10:50PM

    @Adnan Khan:
    I live in the west, and I am sure Pervez Hoodbhoy knows what you are talking about. The contents of our honor and the west’s honor differ vastly. We walk besides poor, helpless, ill and handicapped talking about killing our women if honor is at risk, while they take care of the poor, ill, helpless and handicapped for honor and don’t kill their women. Name or the word used should not be in focus, but he content and substance behind the word/name should matter.


  • Ghairat Brigade
    May 6, 2012 - 10:53PM

    The thing is, they don’t want to be seen as apologizing to Muslims.
    They know that we are beyghairat, and we will open supplies without them having to apologize


  • Rajendra Kalkhande
    May 6, 2012 - 10:54PM

    Most thought provoking article. No doubt, honor is nothing but a state of mind. Preserving this state has always been very costly for human race. Honor of few has been paid by millions by their blood. Strangely people are still ready to pay, no matter what the price is… Nations are still herds when it comes to honor.. Changing herds mentality is no that easy..


  • Nagpuri
    May 6, 2012 - 10:54PM

    I agree with the premise but have to add few more things for ghairatmands.

    There is not honor in copying Jewish (Nuclear, others) and Christians inventions and technologies – right from clothes, medicine, computers, automobiles, architecture, weapons, cell phones, etc. and find your ghairat in protecting women’s private parts and opposing West while begging for “aid”.

    Not a single inventions and ideas occurred in past 1000 years. This intellectual barrenness is astounding. Rather than producer of knowledge, we have been consumer of knowledge. Just look in the mirror, look at our daily lives, we are poor quality clones of westerners aka wannabes.

    Please use only those products, services and technologies which were invented/developed by Muslims.

    Lack of real achievements is greatest beghairatness. Match them in knowledge and creative achievements on this earth and not in heaven. Find ghairantness in creating new institutions for knowledge and learning and not in being pure and faithfulness so as to reserve birth in heaven.


  • Ali Tanoli
    May 6, 2012 - 11:01PM

    Why U.S drops atomic on japan just for Honour otherwise they knew they gonna lose other wise. in the case of defeat u know what happend sir nations lose every thing from langusge to personnal honour the biggest example is palestine and kashmir.
    May Allah protect pakistan …


  • American
    May 6, 2012 - 11:05PM

    I live in the West as well, (if it wasn’t already obvious)….. I just wanted to say that you need to have the decency to respect the feelings of others , even if you don’t agree.

    Why must people in Pakistan always target religion when it really has nothing to do with society’s problems. Its a lack of education and a lack of respect for others. Why can’t Hoodhbuoy just promote science and education, without attacking people’s religion, honor, values, etc.

    If the people of your country have certain values, then respect the good values and teach people about what’s bad. Teach them science and humanitarian values (which actually follows Islam better than what is going on in Pakistan). Don’t go out and make fun of people and then expect change…..


  • Ejaaz
    May 6, 2012 - 11:05PM

    @Musalman; “Well, why is Barack Obama not apologizing to Pakistan? Is that not because his stance will be made weaker in the upcoming elections? Is that not because he will be seen as beyghairat? “

    We lie for little and big things. Can you really swear that you believe the version our Government and Military is telling us about how and why those poor soldiers died? Can you really believe anything any Pakistani Official tells you is the unvarnished truth? The reasons for Obama not apologising were probably discussed by the Americans threadbare, and they probably have decided that it will cause more problems in their relation with Pakistan than help. They wanted a joint investigation into the incident and we declined. They came out with a report and we condemned it. They expressed regret and we angrily rejected it. Perhaps they really believe in their reports and their findings. Maybe they are not used to lying by their officials as we seem to be.


  • Glaedr
    May 6, 2012 - 11:05PM

    Great article, but sadly I feel this is like flogging a dead horse. The concept of ‘progress’ is yet to penetrate into the thick skulls of these ghairatmand cavemen.


  • Hunzai
    May 6, 2012 - 11:11PM



  • Hunzai
    May 6, 2012 - 11:13PM



  • Faraz
    May 6, 2012 - 11:16PM

    You are so right sir , I hope our leaders and many more pakistani people will read this and learn something from it , this slogan of gairat becomes so meaningless when our people are severely suffering from unemployment hunger diseases lack of electricity and severe water and sewrage issues theese are the real problems people want to be solved but our leaders are making us fool and keeping us distracted from real issues , great column sir thank you.Recommend

  • May 6, 2012 - 11:17PM

    Well it was a nice piece of mind from you dr. But as i read it. . . I don’t feel satisfied by da end ov da article. . . . As it recommendz somthing un-acceptable norm of our society . . . . Dignity-Ezzat. . .Ghairat. . . It matterz . . . . I am a banker . . . I make few thousands a month . . . Some times itz hard to survive in last days of da month . . Dat dosn’t mean i start beging on streetz or ask help frm my co-workerz. . . . I keep my Ghairat nd . . . Stay happy with what i have. . . . So . . . . . U need to re-think about da GHAIRAT thing . . . Keeping in view pak-is-tan . . . .


  • s shah
    May 6, 2012 - 11:29PM

    Brilliant. Thanks!


  • fahad
    May 6, 2012 - 11:44PM

    The article only makes sense from a very materialistic point of view, where human progress is defined by material wealth. It totally misses out on the spiritual ramifications. I have lived and worked in countries like Japan, Korea and Singapore, and closely observed their empty mundane and workaholic lives. The sheer fact that people jumping out of windows, committing suicides, is considered a norm in these countries is horrifying. I have worked in tribal communities and found them to be free of the diseases of societies (the chief one being unhappiness). The whole debate should be whether being a one-dimensional man is better than being a multi-dimensional man. Is the noble savage actually better. Our those Afghans happier than their counter parts in Germany and Japan.


  • Syed Ali
    May 6, 2012 - 11:55PM

    @Author! I can fully understand your logic of being baigairat. However, let me give you some examples of gairatmand people of the world as well who survived and succeeded.

    1- Prophet Muhammad PBUH was offered kingdom, women and wealth in exchange for stopping his ideas of islam. He chose the hard path and ultimately was successful.

    2- Imam Hussain was offered money and post of governorship under yazid but Imam chose the hard path. No doubt, the Gairatmand Imam lives today not Yazid.

    3- Socrates decided to drink poison and live for ever but how many of us know the name of the person who gave him the vessel to drink from?

    4- History shows that baigarat nations survive and benefit for a short period of time but in the long term Gairatmand people and nations do far better.
    5- Allah likes Gairatmand and Hoslamand people and not the shortsighted lmited vision coward people.

    In the end, per Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal

    Gairat hai bari chees jahane tago do mein
    Pehnati hai darvesh ko taje sare dara


  • Ali Tanoli
    May 6, 2012 - 11:59PM

    @Syed Ali,
    Fully Agreed sir fully zindabad.


  • Salman
    May 7, 2012 - 12:00AM

    Actually no one knows the meaning of “ghairat” here in Pakistan
    not even the people commenting here! Its not something evil in its
    own,it protects the society from evil intentions and has a very beautiful
    But the problem is that we live in a sick society where no one has
    the knowledge of Islam but few.In a meanwhile they try to become
    muslims then they become the worst people ever seen.
    Pakistan has truly lost its spirit just at the moment it was created.
    (Love you hoodbhoy,loved you since you appeared in “PTV 2″ science

  • true muslim
    May 7, 2012 - 12:08AM

    The proud ghairatdars have made their lives more miserable for them and their tribes.


  • American Desi
    May 7, 2012 - 12:17AM

    It is true that fighting men from both sides will be ready to obliterate cities on the other side to defend their honor.
    But unfortunately on one side of the border fighting men make all the crucial decisions and going by their past decisions reasoning has not played a significant role in those decisions! Results of General Zia’s and President Reagan’s unholy alliance continues till date with radicalization of population and Institutions, especially armed forces.
    Moreover, religiously motivated people mutual destruction is not a deterrent spelling great danger for the region, if not for the whole world!. All for the love of God!


  • nouman baloch
    May 7, 2012 - 12:19AM

    Good article but a bit ambigous and making readers a little confusing and detracking them from real issue.. ghairat and hammiat are most important things in an individual and nations life… But what i got to know from this article that now these ghairat etc is just a rehtoric from those people who are most be-ghairat in this nation. they are using this utterance to do emotional attiyachr..


  • Vanjara
    May 7, 2012 - 12:26AM

    Compare the bayghairat Vietnamese to
    Afghanistan’s ghairat-obsessed people

    Who said the Vietnamese were bayghairat? It was their ghairat that led to fight a war against such a powerful enemy that eventually led to victory. It was their ghairat that made them endure intense American carpet bombing of their country that caused millions of deaths. Now that they have emerged victorious from that war there is nothing bayghairat about dealing with a defeated enemy.


  • Mazen
    May 7, 2012 - 12:28AM

    In order to understand honor, Dr sahib should take some courses designed especially to comprehend what Ghairat is. No doubt, Ghairat is nothing but just a state of mind, but the question isn’t to devastate ghairat from the face of this Earth, but how to do this? The U.S is in Afghanistan seeking an honorable exit, moreover, this World is full of filth. After reading this biased but a good article, Dr sahib just let us know what the honor is? Without going into the intricate detail of the nuclear issue, I think we can’t touch this controversial topic. Human can’t get rid of its instincts/ nature; so in this context first we have to analyze actually what honor is? Is it just an indigenous phenomenon or have some kind of universal attraction. Dr sahib just explained honor in its generality, but he needs to be more specific. I, myself, is an ardent proponent of demilitarization but this is not that simple. In short, in this anti-military environment, these kinds of articles can be expected.Recommend

  • Vanjara
    May 7, 2012 - 12:31AM

    The last days of World War II turned
    samurais into suicide bombers who
    (unsuccessfully) flew planes into US
    aircraft carriers. Their actions
    ultimately brought the atom bomb to

    The last samurai, Saigō Takamori, died in 1877 long before the second world war. There are so many mistakes in this article. BTW did the japanese drop the atom bomb on themselves?


  • No one
    May 7, 2012 - 12:47AM

    Oh come on Mr Hoodbhoy. The utter mess where we are today has not been made by these Baa Gherats After all we have been protecting the american interests at the cost of our own national interest for the last 11 years. Salala incident and the Raymond Davis issue has been dealt in the same way as you would have wished them to be. And our policy on Drones also reflects your mindset. But my question is that where do we find ourselves after doing all this slavery of America? A nation at the brink of precipice, a country hated by American and all the western world, a state considered failed even by its own people, a crippled economy standing on the crutches of American aid???
    So please go and blame those westernized policy makers who have been calling the shots since independence and don’t blame these baa gherats. They are a non entity.


  • Maeedah
    May 7, 2012 - 12:51AM

    Honestly sir, with all due respect to your achievements and knowledge and stature.
    Trust me this is not your domain.
    you have got it all wrong. ALL WRONG.
    You have manipulated data and evidence to suit your preconceived notions.
    Your depiction and distortion of ghairat is,i beg your pardon, almost STUPID.
    I hope to God we don’t become more beghairat than we already are.

    PS: Its always good to stick with what you are GOOD at at.
    just saying.Recommend

    May 7, 2012 - 12:54AM

    @Syed Ali:
    A very good reply syed sahib. True


  • Tch tch
    May 7, 2012 - 1:01AM

    What a Joke. The Vietnamese fought against imperialism for their national honor. There were many Pragmatic South Vietnamese who said fighting (The French then the Americans ) was madness. They even fought and beat the Chinese and the combodian Khymer rouge. Thats the power of national honor and sacrifice. But you have the Gall to call the Vietnamese Beghairait. Now What can I say.
    Now it can hold its head high in the commitee of nations. Compare that to the Philipines which had to suffer under colonialism and neocolonialism and puppet governments.
    As @Musalman pointed out in your Universe only the powerful have a monopoly of national honor. Us third world charlies better just get with the program. The Vietnamese and Cubans beg to differ.
    Mosdegh,Alende. Khomeini, Castro, Che, LaMumba,Mandella,Gandhi,Jinnah all the Anticolonialist, Anti Imperialist get recorded on the pages of History only because the stood for honor. All the worlds propaganda and pragmatist cant change the fact.

    In fact even the colonist in USA when they fought the British had the same Dilemma. Strip a nation from honour and they are chattel slaves the lesson of colonialism. In fact most colonial projects tried exceptional hard to chip at any national sense of honor by the usual propagandist in Beauracracy, Education ,co opted Religous leader. A disaster like 1857 had all to do with this. A mutiny for the pragmatic native a War of Independence for the incorrigible ones.

    Honor is without caste creed ideology. Its instantly recognizable.It shines a bright light that strips away the layers of rationalisation,intellectualism to a cold hard truth. Its not empirical or rational but its powerful.

    And wow IK is soo much like Hitler lol Godwin Law Professor look it up. IK is being proven right. Its Musharaf and Pakistan “Liberals” Gharbzadi masked as pragmatism that lost.
    As for nukes we would be an Iraq or a somalia without them. Only reason your beloved America does not decimates our third rate Military for its Geostrategic goals are a few kilotons of fission and an IRBM. I remember BJP rhetoric before we went nuclear, I am surprised you dont.


  • tariq parvez
    May 7, 2012 - 1:04AM

    Honour is essential for every nation to make progress. But let us have our fundamentals right. What do we want? The welfare and comfort of the common man in Pakistan or the honour of the chattering classes sitting in their drawing rooms and talking of honour or the honour of proxies of military? What about our honour when OBL was killed in Abbottabad by American seals? What about our honour when 26 army personnel were killed in Salala by Americans? If this was a violation of your sovereignty and honour why dont you retaliate, you cry babies. Is honour specific only to actions of the Americans? What about your honour when thousands of innocent people are killed by the terrorists? What about your honour when Hazaras of Quetta are killed by the terrorists? What about your honour when, poor women are forced to sell themselves for poverty and unemployment? What about your honour when army and police personnel are slaughtered by the terrorists?What about your honour when thousands of people are illegaly confined by the intelligence agencies for years? Honour brigade gets active only when Americans are involved or the Indians are involved. What about your honour when more and more people are finding it difficult to make both ends meet? Members of ghairat brigade should declare their incomes and taxes they give. They should also let us know how much amount they have paid to the poor, the unemployed, the uneducated, the sick! Talking of ghairat and moving around in Land cruisers or living in big houses or getting money from the agencies is a real shame. It is sickening how the ghairat brigade present themselves as well wishers of Pakistan while pushing Pakistani common man into more poverty and humiliation.


  • May 7, 2012 - 1:05AM

    So why were the Vietnamese fighting again? Or better still, why are nations fighting for independence? And the blacks in South Africa?

    Its amazing how a man of such intelligence can be so one dimensional.

    And for all his issues with failing systems in the country you never see him criticizing the government, just Imran Khan- the man who has never been in any proximity of power.


  • Parvez
    May 7, 2012 - 1:07AM

    Thoroughly enjoyed the read. Question that begs to be asked is ‘ How does one eliminate or even put aside this honour thing that God has put into mankind ?’ Your example of the Japanese and Germans is a little intimidating.


  • Imran Con
    May 7, 2012 - 1:14AM

    It depends more on the society’s definition of “honor.” In Pakistan, there are honor killings targeted at wives and daughters. In the west, that honor killing is the height of a lack of honor and cowardice. It’s a mental picture of the lowest of the low.


  • ayesha_khan
    May 7, 2012 - 1:16AM

    “The same question put to Indian military officers would probably elicit the same answer.”

    The Indian army’s response is not hypothetical. It is a known policy since 1998 that India has pledged ‘ No first Use’ of nuclear arms. Your army soldiers implied that they WOULD use nuclear arms even if India had not used them if they were losing the war – so the answers are very different.

    In India the decision to use nuclear arms would have to come from civilians not military and therein lies the difference. This difference is also reflected in the fact that Pakistan is always the one that attacks India not the other way around.

    I normally agree with most of your articles but in trying to make some valid points to the Pak audience, you have tried to gain cheap publicity by simply dragging India in and sayoing they would do the same though you clearly cannot have been unaware of the vast difference between the Indian and Pakistani position on war in general and use of nuclear weapons in particular.


  • Ali Tanoli
    May 7, 2012 - 1:21AM

    How many Mir Jaffer and Mir Sadiq are remembered today. none


  • ayesha_khan
    May 7, 2012 - 1:21AM

    @Ghairat Brigade: “The thing is, they don’t want to be seen as apologizing to Muslims.”

    Shah RUkh Khan was a Muslim. Obama also apologized for the Quran burning incident. You are just making stuff up.


  • abs
    May 7, 2012 - 1:22AM


    Please read atleast wikipedia(a less reliable but more authentic source than your article).



  • May 7, 2012 - 1:31AM

    I am your biggest fan.

    Way to go, Baygairat United!


  • May 7, 2012 - 1:33AM

    BTW This liner

    //The more morally and intellectually bankrupt a leader, the louder he thunders about qaumi ghairat (national honour).//

    I am stealing. This could qualify for a phrase. Originated in Pakistan.


  • Havildar Abdul Hamid
    May 7, 2012 - 2:11AM

    Prof. Hoodbhoy speculates that Indian military officers would “probably” want to commit nuclear mass-murder in defense of their “ghairat.” It may serve Hoodbhoy’s agenda to morally equate India and Pakistan, but reality is that Indian military’s “ghairat” is irrelevant in deciding whether or not India would use nukes; it is simply not the military’s decision but those of the elected politicians.

    It is hard to say which is worse–a 100% morally bankrupt entity like your average Pakistani elite leader, or a 90% honest individual like Hoodbhoy. I am tempted to say the latter is worse because readers can get fooled by his seeming sincerity and compassion.


  • jahandad
    May 7, 2012 - 2:14AM

    @author,,,what is the motive of this frustration,,,,i respect your writings and thinking, , BUT ,what you want people to be like,,,,HAMID GUL AND IMRAN KHAN ,speaks for self respect preservation [not illogical ghairat as you mention it ] ,,,,I AM A DOCTOR ABROAD FOR YEARS ,, and i know what self respect means,,,,,,SIR,,,,,IF SOMEONE TREATS YOU WORST THAN ANIMALS,,,,,you will greet them with flowers or resist?,,,you are speaking philosophy and desperate idealistic thinker,,,,,we need food for our bellies, but our soul needs peace of mind ,which you cannot have in an enslaved minded body,,, I HOPE YOU DON’T MIND,,


  • Texas Snuff,
    May 7, 2012 - 2:20AM

    For jains, Khoja, and patel Ghairath is no mean when making money. i have seen that here in texas.Recommend

  • M. Asim
    May 7, 2012 - 2:35AM

    Our army has successfully planted the idea of honor into out minds to legitimize their power, authority and share of financial budget. We take pride in our “strong” army and nuclear arsenal instead of being ashamed of our illiteracy, poverty, declining industry, poor health care and decadent morals. I am living abroad and whenever crisis and doomed state of Pakistan is discussed, whenever illiteracy, underemployment, ethnic violence, pollution, disregard of law and corruption are mentioned, all Pakistanis conveniently say “well we are nuclear power, beat that!”. This is such a pathetic thing to be proud of. I would rather be proud of our universities, high employment rates, scientists, writers, high GDP growth, effective transportation, free and high quality education and health services.

    As a nation, we need to stop being proud of our army who is just making us emotional retards who will remain hungry in order for our army to build weapons that bring destruction and power in their hands, who will remain illiterate so that our generals can build real estates and drink whiskey all day.


  • Alan
    May 7, 2012 - 2:43AM

    Most important and correct analysis I have seen in Pakistani newspapers over the years.


  • mahmoud
    May 7, 2012 - 3:16AM

    The irony is our ghairat obsession make us look buffoons to the rest of the world. We would ridicule a man from Congo with overweening pride. They are so poor and backward to deserve to be proud. Sadly that is also our situation to the rest of the world. We also appear backward and poor.


  • Rashid
    May 7, 2012 - 3:26AM

    People must remember a gesture of kow-towing by Barac Obama to the Chinese president (in 2009 probably). Kow-towing is a Chinese tradition to pay someone respect by kneeling down and touching or even kissing the feet of the next person… Obama was pillorised for that but didn’t give a damn to the critics. This was the most powerful leader of the most powerful nation. Ghairat leads you nowhere but to annihilation. Thank you hodhboy for your wonderful write-up! More respect for you.


  • Rashid
    May 7, 2012 - 3:26AM

    OK, this one is really very twisted! Either the writer doesn’t know the primary meaning of “Ghairat”, or he has tried to produce a piece of extreme sarcasm. People of Germany, Japan, and Vietnam stood on their toes, and worked hard. They utilized their human resource capital, and this is what “Ghairat” is. In this process, if they invited US companies to invest in their country, this is not “Bayghairti”… Sadly, the writer’s views are plagued with some kind of strange phobia pertaining to traditional values, and because of this, he has ended up producing a very strange piece of writing which shows huge lack of understanding of how different people define different terms, and what these terms actually refer to. Dr. Sahab, please tell us something about Physics, but with respect, I think you should refrain from penning words about Pakistan’s societal issues. You have touched extremes here, and that too wrongly. Our society is already very polarized!


  • USPA
    May 7, 2012 - 3:34AM

    @Syed Ali Abbas Kazmi There are so many simple minded people like you in Pakistan. Mr, what you are taking about is being ‘content with your life’ or ‘living within your means’. It has nothing to do with the concept of being ghairat mand. You could earn more money or you could go beg on the streets — It’s a MORAL choice. And I think that’s what education is for, to help you make these decisions. What you said is similar to saying that you can’t do blue color jobs (working as waiter, plumber etc) because you are ghairat mand. This is another false concept, because ghairat demands you to think irrationally from heart and not rationally from brain. People in the west give you respect even if you clean bathrooms as long as you are not hurting anyone. That’s how you should be thinking, and not using false shield of ghairat mandy.


  • peaceful
    May 7, 2012 - 3:37AM

    ver well written Sir!
    Ghairat is good but politicians mis-use it when they are on weak grounds, when they lack vision, when they dont have a plan, when they need to secure their seat instead of people’s life. They know that masses like to stick to values so they misguide them.Recommend

  • musheir
    May 7, 2012 - 3:40AM

    i may go along with some of his points but example of germany and japan is not relevant here because they were the aggressors in the first place whereas the situation is totally different in the muslim world it is the west that is the aggressor.


  • rashid
    May 7, 2012 - 3:41AM

    @Adnan Khan: i didnt know the Germans were proud of the holocaust


  • May 7, 2012 - 3:44AM

    Hoodbhoy just summarized “Road to Serfdom” by F A Hayek!
    Now I see why Hoodbhoy is scared of IK too.


  • Badoo
    May 7, 2012 - 3:48AM

    @ Syed Ali

    you are confusing the concept of ghairat and sacrifice/tolerance. The examples you have quoted are totally different concept than what the brigade brigade is professing in Pakistan today. those are example of absolute tolerance and sacrifice while the basis of ghairat is revenge and intolerance.


  • ihtisham khan
    May 7, 2012 - 4:22AM

    what?…do u think any country will not use its nuclear weapons when its loosing….america use the atom bomb when they are bombarded by the japanese but its japan’s fault…if pakistan do the same thing its pakistan’s fault…?..ur baigharti is at extreme…


  • Arindom
    May 7, 2012 - 4:28AM

    India is another example. India lost the 1962 war with China, but welcomes trade and investment with China and today trade is on track to touch $100 billion by 2015. India backed the Soviets and opposed USA in the Cold War (Yes, non-alignment was just a show). But when the Soviet Union disintegrated, India developed a hugely beneficial relationship with the US. There was no ‘honour’ code that prevented India shaking hands with a former ‘enemy’ the US.Thank God, we Indians are not driven by herder-thinking!!!


  • Rana Amjad
    May 7, 2012 - 4:56AM

    Outstanding Article! But is anybody listening, I seriously doubt.


  • hasan
    May 7, 2012 - 5:24AM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    Learn about history before writing your usual nonsense! The A bomb was dropped on Japan in order to stop the useless and unnecessary loss of life that would have occurred due to Japan’s unwillingness to surrender.


  • geeko
    May 7, 2012 - 5:46AM

    @Hamza Jehangir:
    That was quite the epic pwnage.

    Which COAS or even high-ranked Army officer from Pakistan said that he’ll launch the nuclear bomb “the first”, without any Indian attack ? Do you know that the nukes are just present here to destroy the force hierarchy and the probability of a traditional, full-fledged war, and that if any of the two countries launch nuclear bombs, the borders being so porous, they’ll suffer too ? No one in his right mind would use them, let’s be serious.

    And if you indeed read “most” of the author’s article, I’m sorry, but the last project in his mind is probably to “please the Pak audience”, believe me.


  • faraz
    May 7, 2012 - 5:56AM

    The ultimate form of baghairti is that people die of poverty, disease and hunger, while the rich elites and laptop using middle class deceive them in the name of national honor


  • Amna
    May 7, 2012 - 6:27AM

    It would have been a far better read if the author had kept the topic of ghairat restricted to wrong treatment of women.
    In today’s Pakistan if one doesn’t show some ghairat when it comes to poor governance and corruption then the whole point is lost. You are comparing apples with oranges. You have wrongly mentioned IK in this write-up because he takes a moderate approach towards dealing with foreign countries including america and welcomes trade with India and other countries.
    One can always speak of real ghairat and false one and while at it, beghairity can also be defined in the same spirit of falsehood and truth. Its important to be beghairat about sending your women to study, don’t interfere in decision making of women and so on. I don’t find the notion of being ghairatmand or beghairat as grey, we can very easily draw the line in black and white.


  • asif
    May 7, 2012 - 6:34AM

    @tch tch
    “…But you have the Gall to call the Vietnamese Beghairait…”. YOU NAILED IT.

    @ayesha_khan – I have observed indian-muslims up close. The majority in your country have done a wonderful job at making sure its muslim population is docile and deeply apologetic about their faith. Of all the people we don’t need indian muslims telling us how to live our lives. To each their own. We feel that you are the lost children of islam.


  • ayesha_khan
    May 7, 2012 - 7:05AM

    @Tch tch: “I remember BJP rhetoric before we went nuclear, I am surprised you dont.”

    Your government lied about the BJP rhetoric. There was none. I was in India and we never heard those bombastic statements which we surely would have because we would have been the target audience for those. You will find it impossible to find any You-tube video or any newspaper url either to substantiate that. We can even today find Yahya Khan’s statement on You-tube in 1970. Find me just one statement from BJP threatening Pak right after India exploded the bombs in May 1998.

    Of course your government also lied about 1965 and told you that India attacked you. Initially your government also lied to you and said that Pakistan army was not involved in Kargill. I don’t blame you from believing your government then. You relied on the information you were provided. But now you should check for yourself.


  • kris
    May 7, 2012 - 7:30AM

    Professor said, .”…Indian military officers would probably elicit the same answer (use of nuclear weapons if defeat is imminent.”) I wonder why Pakistanis including honorable, well educated (and even well meaning) misquote, misrepresent anything to do about India. Professor should know India has a “no first use” policy when it comes to nuclear weapons.

    It is not about honour, it is common sense.

    Chage your attitude. No country can survive and prosper if you treat all your neighbours (India and Afghanistan) as enemies and the only super power, the US, as the biggest enemy.


  • unbeliever
    May 7, 2012 - 7:30AM

    @Syed Ali:

    you were spot on in your analysis. but the ghairat which the writer mentions is perhaps collective ghairat, or ghairat in the eyes of others. it is precisely because of which fathers kill daughters.
    all the luminaries you mentioned above did so because they thought they are on right track and their way is better than the one currently followed. they did not die because they were forced by fire of ghairat but they laid their lives so that others can learn from their examples, and make their lives better.

    the author here refers perhaps to men who use this notion of honour to manipulate people or the misplaced sense of honour when you kill your sister or daughter.


  • mani
    May 7, 2012 - 8:18AM

    “The last days of World War II turned samurais into suicide bombers who (unsuccessfully) flew planes into US aircraft carriers. Their actions ultimately brought the atom bomb to Japan.”

    Sir with due respect, this does not justify what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki


  • ayesha_khan
    May 7, 2012 - 8:19AM

    To people who argue that ghairath/honor is important, I agree. I disagree with the definition of ghairath that has become common in Pakistan:
    1) Killing defenseless daughter wife whom you should be protecting if they are even suspected of infidelity or even marrying of their own choice
    2) Attacking others and claiming that they cannot retaliate because Pakistan is an atomy taaqat
    3) Of oppressing the minorities and claiming to be Islam ka markaz

    If ghairath consisted of
    1) Defending one’s country instead of renting one’s army for money
    2) working hard to rise in the comity of nations
    3) protecting and providing for one’s loved ones through legitimate means
    4) considering it as a matter of national shame that millions of kids don’t go to school or hundreds of thousands die before their first birthday due to weakness in healthcare system

    then I would agree that being ghairatmand is desirable


  • mani
    May 7, 2012 - 8:28AM

    disagree on some points of the article, but I do I have high regard of the Professor’s opinion.

    Germany and Japan have become more nationalistic in their approach ever since the world war. They have become self sufficient and realized that economic stability is the key to every obstacle.

    If they were “Beyghairat” like us, they would have accepted english as their ‘preferred’ language. There is a reason why they stick to their own culture and their own principles

    I do agree on the fact that an effort must be made from our government to improve the economy


  • Likhari
    May 7, 2012 - 8:28AM

    I want to draw readers attention to a specific portion of Hoodbhoy’s article in particular where the good Prof draws an analogy between Khan’s idea of nationalism and Hitler’s Mein Kampf. It is deeply saddening to see an otherwise wise prof grossly misreading his ideological/political opponent Mr Khan, and equating his (khan’s) idea of nationalism with that of Hitler.prof fails his own intellectual/analytic skills and becomes a naive observer of khan political stand. I ask prof, where has khan propagated nationalism as an idea where one nation can prosecute or wage war against another nation (except defending ones country in form of bringing down drones as a last resort…not attacking the very nation in retaliation). I would rather appreciate that Hoodbhoy challenge khan on his idea of talks with Taliban or pulling out tropes from the war against terror or better his ideology towards terrorism than equating his nationalism with Hitler. Deeply disappointing to say the least.


  • May 7, 2012 - 8:30AM

    Food for thought.. When I was a student at the GC Lahore in 1969, I still remember the walls of the city littered with posters showing the map of India under a military boot and the words inscribed “CRUSH INDIA” beneath it. Who crushed whom is in the history books!.
    Foolish and unfounded ghairat is of course a primitive legacy and should be shunned.
    I however do not agree with Hoodbhoy’s mention of Imran Khan with respect to his take on ghairat. As much as I know, Imran Khan is advocating against corruption and begging from other countries and instead relying on own resources which God has given us. That should be appreciated by Prof Hoodbhoy at the least.


  • Raw is War
    May 7, 2012 - 8:33AM

    where is the honour when 150 pakistanis are still missing in Siachen and the nation forgets it?


  • Vanjara
    May 7, 2012 - 8:35AM

    The A bomb was dropped on Japan in
    order to stop the useless and
    unnecessary loss of life that would
    have occurred due to Japan’s
    unwillingness to surrender

    So the 200 000 deaths in Hiroshoma and Nagasaki were usefull and necessary? What about the millions of people murdered by the Americans in Vietnam? Were they also usefull and necessary?


  • Taimoor
    May 7, 2012 - 8:37AM

    Brilliant sir, I will try to be proud bayghairat…And you are right it’s the honour which is holding us back.


  • KhuddiGhariat
    May 7, 2012 - 8:49AM

    He is brilliant. I disagree agree with his concept of Ghariat (honour). His attempt to attach
    baghariat only to the Pakistani society is misleading. The sense of Ghariat is in every society like Europeans, Russians, Chinese… etc. Alama Iqbal delivered ultimate teaching about (Ghariat or Khuddi or honour). My advise to Hoodbhoy is to study different cultures in this world. This will enlighten his understandings that every nation takes (Ghariat honour or Khuddi) very seriousely. If a nation or a person does not have (Ghariat honour or Khuddi) it leads to serious consequences. Recommend

  • Lateral Thinking
    May 7, 2012 - 8:57AM

    I just don’t get it… why does India get dragged into this opinion piece again??


  • Rasheed Khalid
    May 7, 2012 - 8:58AM

    I totally agree with Dr Hoodbhoy. Let us peace give a chance.


  • GhostRider
    May 7, 2012 - 9:03AM

    one word for this article… Outstanding


  • Laali
    May 7, 2012 - 9:15AM

    The word ghairat is awful, it gave my father the right to restrict me over my brother, to treat me different because I was of a different gender and ghairat was somehow my responsibility. Its a horrible standard to make your kids uphold based on ghairat when you have no matching values, only contradicting ones.
    We should kick this word out of our dictionaries!


  • Venky
    May 7, 2012 - 9:27AM

    Sitting Pakistan, to write an article like this requires ghairat.


  • observer
    May 7, 2012 - 9:34AM

    @Ali Tanoli

    in the case of defeat u know what happend sir nations lose every thing from langusge to personnal honour

    Germany, Japan and Italy were defeated in the Second WW. Have they lost every thing from langusge to personnal honour?

    I guess not.your thesis needs to be reworked.


  • Muhammad Ishaq
    May 7, 2012 - 10:09AM

    Further, if that means to know our neghbours and their progress and power. And if that means instead of preparing all times for war and wasting away 50% of budget on toys that we purchase for army, we spend scarce resources on education and health of this poor nation.


  • Lala Gee
    May 7, 2012 - 10:17AM

    @Adnan Khan:

    “Anybody who has lived in the west and seen how much they value national “honor” and personal “dignity”, will find this piece by Pervez, hilarious. The examples he has given, are all societies that have never ceased to worship their race, culture and ethnicity.”

    Very well said. As I have myself lived in the west for several years and visited many western countries and North America, I can confirm what you have said about them. I personally visited Germany and I can tell how proud Germans are of their race.


  • Saif M
    May 7, 2012 - 10:26AM

    @Ali Tanoli: To your first comment, read the history of WW-II. It may also improve your English a bit.


  • Sharaf
    May 7, 2012 - 10:31AM

    Good article pointing on important “illness” that needs a cure. Shame that the writer’s point of reference had nothing to do with Islam which is what the majority of Pakistanis look towards as their moral compass.


  • Feroz
    May 7, 2012 - 10:37AM

    Non state actors killing a few humans is fine if done in neighboring countries, so what if these same terrorists have killed over 35000 of their own citizens. Ghairat, Beghairat and Izzat are the parasites that feed on the human mind when power of reason, logic and critical analysis have been consumed by motivated Propaganda.


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    May 7, 2012 - 10:46AM

    @Syed Ali:

    Prophet Muhammad PBUH was offered
    kingdom, women and wealth in exchange
    for stopping his ideas of islam.

    Not to go off topic, but what you said never happened!


  • Som
    May 7, 2012 - 10:49AM

    @Syed Ali:
    In all your examples, people stood up for what is logical and right and not because of some misplaced sence of honour. And thats how it works.


  • May 7, 2012 - 11:31AM

    Fabulous peace of writing.

    It really made me think. I too honour honour, but the very idea is different for me. I wouldn’t kill my anyone for any reason, the honour doesn’t come into picture. But, that’s clearly not the case with some in Pakistan.

    The reaction differs. Someone “insults” my honour, I’ll react the way which seems honourable to me,i.e., non-violently, peacefully and in tune with the law of the land. I grew up being taught to respect these qualities. My society is such.Recommend

  • SAM
    May 7, 2012 - 11:45AM

    Dear Dr. Sb.,

    I believe you missed out on the pre-war progress made by the German and the Japanese which then helped them post-war as well. I would like to read more from you on how science and technology including physics can help propel the nation forward rather than your thoughts on social sciences.



  • sars
    May 7, 2012 - 11:46AM

    If only we could change our definiation of “Ghairat”, move it out of its racy context and equate it with an honest, just and merit based society i think our current decline would improve.


  • May 7, 2012 - 12:03PM

    i will suggest Professor sab that he invest his time in his subject and do some research in his subject rather waste time in teaching nation honor and blah blah .. and we live in tribal areas and we are happy with our culture and our honor and life style…. our elders tell us that honor means is doing what is right in all situations and if doing right and i was reading some where .. a line

    “He who will sacrifice liberty to ensure peace will lose both and deserve neither.”


  • Skeptic
    May 7, 2012 - 12:10PM

    On what basis did you conclude that Indian army officers would probably think in the same way as Pakistani officers ? Very unscientific , Professor. I am disappointed.


  • Udaya Bose
    May 7, 2012 - 12:19PM

    As far as nations go, there could be a political decision which looks at the overall gains in the face of some perceived loss of honour.
    You cannot, however, ask Armies or soldiers to do that. After all what are they putting their lives on the line for?


  • Nasir Hussain
    May 7, 2012 - 12:26PM

    Well done Prof. shab as always. Your column is full of knowledge, rationale, logic and aspirations.
    Keep doing good work. God bless you. Recommend

  • Khan
    May 7, 2012 - 12:43PM

    The problem with most of our countrymen is that they do what they are not supposed to do.
    a. Soldiers start politics
    b. Politicians become soldiers and yet, hate-mongers.
    c. PROFESSORS write on social and political stuff, but they are supposed to concentrate on research and development.


  • Khan
    May 7, 2012 - 12:46PM

    I’ve never seen a single article by the professor, where he is not only pointing out but also giving solutions. Mr. Pessimist


  • May 7, 2012 - 12:57PM

    @tariq parvez: You are right Sir it is the cheats, fraudulent and dishonest people who twist the meaning of honour and trap honest and simple people to serve their own cause. You have given ample examples to prove.


  • Zee
    May 7, 2012 - 1:19PM

    Superb work. Hats off to you.


  • Faiz Al-Najdi
    May 7, 2012 - 1:42PM

    Great Article Professor!! We are Proud of You!!!
    The Punch Line is:
    I think all of these so-called “Ghairat Brigade” will ultimately bring
    about similar destructions for us , as well – God forbid!!!


  • Khan
    May 7, 2012 - 1:42PM

    @Tch tch:
    Fabulous job. The professor should correct his facts. Talking about IK and Hamid Gul in the same breathe is utter injustice. IK has a political party with policies on energy, education, governance, and economy; while, Mr. Gul is acting like a non-state actor who is enraging the emotions of masses.
    I have never seen Mr. Professor objecting on the utter mismanagement, corruption, and poor governance by the sitting government. I don’t know why he is afraid of someone like IK who is not even in the parliament.


  • Adeel Wahid
    May 7, 2012 - 1:44PM

    Very selective and uni-dimensional view of history.


  • Abid P Khan
    May 7, 2012 - 1:49PM


    “….India backed the Soviets and opposed USA in the Cold War (Yes, non-alignment was just a show).”

    Thanks for operating on another plane. Most of us unfortunately never rise above the simpleton level. We prefer Hollywood/Bollywood’s versions in black and white. Why burden the brain by the unnecessary.
    “@Ali Tanoli:
    Learn about history before writing your usual nonsense! The A bomb was dropped on Japan in order to stop the useless and unnecessary loss of life that would have occurred due to Japan’s unwillingness to surrender.”

    Right about learning history. Besides @Ali Tanoli, others too need a dose of Hist 101.


  • JJ
    May 7, 2012 - 2:21PM


    I don’t know what West you’re living in, but as someone born and raised in the U.S., there are massive inequalities along socio-economic and racial lines that simply keep widening. Corporations and their lobbies and heads have all the power, and there is really no incentive for it to be given up, or for less profit to be made when there can be more. Perhaps no “ghairat,” but plenty of greed. Let’s stop romanticizing and falsely idolizing the “West.”


  • Javaid Ahmed
    May 7, 2012 - 2:56PM

    Unfortunately our military and religious establishments simply do not understand the dynamics of modern civilization and they stubornly continue to live in a world that no longer exists and continue to fool their own people by proping up one stooge after another.


  • Lala Gee
    May 7, 2012 - 3:14PM

    @Imran Naseer:

    “Ghairat has destroyed us at the national level as well as in our private lives.”

    Sir, who stops you becoming what the author has suggested? At least you can put your private life in order, if not the national.


  • Salman
    May 7, 2012 - 3:19PM

    I hope we still have not forgotten the murder of Salman Taseer based on ‘Ghairat’


  • Yasir Hameed
    May 7, 2012 - 3:25PM

    sir, i don’t know what is your definition of beghairat. but, i think we can hardly be anymore beghairat. and i have failed to understand how being beghairat would solve our crises?


  • Yasir Khan
    May 7, 2012 - 3:27PM

    @syed Ali

    very good reply.. live long


  • Yasir Hameed
    May 7, 2012 - 3:36PM

    you are quite right about professor’s criticizing IK. i have seen him in TV shows criticizing IK but never uttering a single word about our beghairat ruling elite. God knows why he is so intimidated by IK?


  • Ahmed Salim
    May 7, 2012 - 3:51PM

    As someone whose home is frequently drowned by domestic family problems on petty issues such as relatives (as in both ways, from both parents), who rather than being reasonable and caring for a positive space where their children can study for their near exams, engage in frivolous fights which causes damage to our educational and psychological needs, I fully agree with Mr. Pervez Hoodbhoy on this issue which plagues our society and I am personally thankful to him for giving a voice to discard this sin.


  • M.Raza
    May 7, 2012 - 3:57PM

    I think Hood bhoy sab should have talked about some positive aspects of “Ghairat”. As the attribute really can play miracles if used as per teachings of islam without taking LAW (decesion about right and wrong) in hands.


  • Tch tch
    May 7, 2012 - 3:58PM

    @hasan: That is a popular myth. The Bomb was dropped on Japan as 1) Means to test Nuclear weapons in war conditions.(100′s of hours of footage was made and other data collected by US mil of blast sites which were cordoned and studied in great detail by scientist at los Alamos)
    2) A Warning to Soviets who were overunnig Manchuria.
    The Truman Administration was well aware of Japanese efforts to sue for peace. Japan was negotiating for surrendor for months before the Bomb was dropped.
    (John Hershey Hiroshima, Gar Alperovitz Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: And the Architecture of an American Myth ,Ralph Raico’s “Harry S. Truman: Advancing the Revolution”, Gore Vidal , The Last Empire)
    Japan Attack on Pearl Harbor has also many lingering questions.


  • Jaakhuzg
    May 7, 2012 - 4:09PM

    @abs……your link shows your level of intellect….you should know that how wikipedia works….???


  • Lala Gee
    May 7, 2012 - 4:10PM

    @tariq parvez:

    “What about your honour when thousands of innocent people are killed by the terrorists? What about your honour when Hazaras of Quetta are killed by the terrorists? What about your honour when, poor women are forced to sell themselves for poverty and unemployment? ….”

    And you seriously think that by becoming “bayghairat” all these miseries will go away.


  • Faraz
    May 7, 2012 - 4:18PM

    During WWII, when Japan’s civilian leaders, when they still had some power, tried to rein in the army, demonstrators were called onto the street to protest such ‘national shame’ and ‘unpatriotic traitors’. They turned up in their tens of thousands. The end result is for all to see.

    With the presence of Difa-e-Pakistan Council and JI in Pakistan, we are condemned to repeat this history.


  • Lala Gee
    May 7, 2012 - 4:31PM

    @Wasim Irfan:

    “This ghairat concept is an antiquated thinking that belongs in the times of the cavemen.”

    As long as scholars like yourself and Pervez Hoodbhoy are among us to guide the ignorant, no harm can come to our nation. Iqbal was so misguided and mislead the nation by his superfluous theory of “khudi” (self honor, ghairat). His shortsightedness lead his followers to this miserable position. All the applause for presenting such an ingenuous solution to all of our current and future problems.


  • Rao
    May 7, 2012 - 4:34PM

    One cannot do anything without honor and dignity,so just justifying historical wars, nuclear in the name of GHAIRAT honor is not enough, you should also mention the nations,states which have done remarkable progress with honor.
    Did Japan receive aid during tsunami last year?
    Is China begging from anyone, emerged in 1949?
    In fact, it depends upon the rulers, whether they are interested in bringing prosperity.
    Unemployment, it should be overcome by the state.
    Poverty, also must be elevated by the rulers.


  • Omair
    May 7, 2012 - 4:50PM

    While I understand where Mr. Hoodbhoy is coming from, I do not agree with his argument that Honor or ghairat as a concept is the root cause of so many of our problems. To say that one wishes to be an honorable citizen of a an honorable state is nothing but a fairly normal and agreeable notion. Definition of individual and collective honor is what Mr. Hoodbhoy should have actually stressed on.
    Most of the muslim world and in particular Afghanistan and Pakistan have their understanding of the concept completely skewed and messed up. Honor and pride in the post industrial world now comes from economic well being and not military strength. Economic well being cannot be achieved if a nation does not maximize the potential of all its people. That maximization, in turn, cannot come about if various segments of society are persecuted (Women, minorities). Only a pluralistic society can achieve social, economic and individual well being.
    This is a fact that stands lost in the post-Zia Pakistan where empty rhetoric and shameless religiosity have become the only tools to define all aspects of life. Matters that are to be judged by the almighty are routinely being adjudicated by illiterate, and at best, semi educated clerics.
    State has failed to ensure progressive and all-encompassing education for all and this void has been exploited by hate-filled propaganda.


  • G. Din
    May 7, 2012 - 4:54PM

    Do moderators of ET ever experience remorse? My post questioning the author’s sentence about India’s military officers replying to a hypothetical question about a nuclear strike similarly to Pakistan’s military officers was not accepted. I commended the author on a very balanced write-up and its “eminent readability”. Now, I find many, many others making the same point. And, I wonder whether you base your decisions on who advances an opinion and not the opinion itself? I would not be surprised if that were indeed true as there is increasing evidence for such a conclusion!


  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    May 7, 2012 - 4:59PM

    Actually we are a Nation of Baighairat’s. Look at the present mess. Any other PM would have resigned much earlier. We have been handing over our sisters & brothers to the Americans for some Dollars.. We continue to let them kill innocent women & children by Drone Attacks. They burn the Holy book & do sacrilegious things in Gutanamo Bay & we still wag our tail in front of the US Ambassador. They join hands with India to issue threats on Hafiz Saeed. They blatantly kill our soldiers at Salala. After all the Western World is doing he still feels that we should invite them with open arms & make merry. We have survived by Allah’s Grace and will come out of the present Morass which is the gift of the PPP . Your Articles sucks. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    May 7, 2012 - 5:14PM

    So in other words Mr Hoodbhoy is saying to becoming a advanced nation in the world one has to become a Beghairath fisrt like all the advanced nations did or the way japan and italy
    and turkey doing after losing in the war becames like we put it(kothi) so be it sir its not too late.


  • yasir hussain
    May 7, 2012 - 5:15PM

    Absolute truth Sir, this is the bitter reality we all should accept it.


  • mr. righty rightist
    May 7, 2012 - 5:55PM

    @Lt. Col. Imtiaz Alam who writes “We have survived by Allah’s Grace and will come out of the present Morass which is the gift of the PPP . Your Articles sucks.”

    Colonel sir, don’t you think the current morass of Pakistan is due to decades of military misrule.

    If 1948, 65, 71, 99 hadn’t happened, your country would be in a better position today. And these adventures which cost Pakistan dearly are the reasons why your country is failing today. Why do you blame it on PPP government?


  • Mr. Honest
    May 7, 2012 - 6:18PM

    Sir as you desire law, compassion, and tolerance are all in one way or the other related to being Ghairat Mand.
    Donot agree with you over here.


  • Wah India
    May 7, 2012 - 6:21PM

    One of the best articles I have ever read Excellent !!!!! You have touched the most sensitive nerve of society


  • ayesha_khan
    May 7, 2012 - 6:27PM

    I had responded to ‘asif’ who attacked me personally rather than my ideas simply because I am an Indian Muslim and my rebuttal is not being printed. I have checked your criteria and I do not believe I have violated any, why was my rebuttal not published? Spmeone can attack me but I cannot respond?


  • Chulbul Pandey
    May 7, 2012 - 6:33PM

    @Author: A very nice article, Professor!. You do have the knack of presenting your views in most creative way. You aptly pointed out that the “Ghairat” that is so cherished by your countrymen might be out of sync with reality, a la false pride of sorts.

    However, as has been pointed out earlier, the mention of India was completely unnecessary. I realize that in order to prove a point in Pakistan, India has to be dragged along, but we expect better from you, sir.
    Another point – Please publish a little synopsis too after your article to clarify the points you are making. It hurts my eyes to read posts that go on and on criticizing your work without realizing that they might have missed the point you were trying to make.


  • sanity
    May 7, 2012 - 6:58PM

    Honor is highest of the virtues that an individual or a nation should have. It is unfortunate that the word of honor or ghairat has been misused by politicians for their vested interests, and when they came to power they did nothing to protect the honor of their nations. As Iqbal says
    ” Ghairat hai bari cheez jahan e tag o do mein’
    Pehnati hai darwesh ko Taaj e sare dara”
    Please look at the example of people of china, who have saved their honor by working day and night towards the development of their country, and today China stands one of the most developed and dignified nation.
    In Islam there is no place for honor killing, it is rather the ignorance of our people regarding Islam that has created the monster of honor killing.
    For Pakistan Ghairat is the need of the day, but that ghairat means that all of us should work hard and honestly in our respective fields to make our nation an Asian Tiger. We have all the ingredients of a successful nation i.e. Large pool of human resource, vast agricultural lands, Natural resources, and a great geographical location, what we lack is the ghairat to turn these resources into a nation of steel.


  • ayesha_khan
    May 7, 2012 - 7:09PM

    1. Indian Muslims are not docile. We have reached the top in every field be it politics, cricket, acting, music, business, poetry. Just because we do not create fasaad in our motherland, it does not mean we are docile.
    2. I respect other people’s faith. That does mean I am apologetic about my own.
    @geeko “Which COAS or even high-ranked Army officer from Pakistan said that he’ll launch the nuclear bomb “the first”, without any Indian attack ?”.

    Please read the attached article on defence Pakistan board. You will get your answer http://www.defence.pk/forums/pakistan-strategic-forces/107215-kayani-not-board-zardaris-no-first-use-n-policy-wikileaks.html


  • Irfan
    May 7, 2012 - 7:35PM

    Well written Sir. After reading your article I kept thinking about the whole honor issue and came to a conclusion that Honor is not all that bad. Law, Reason, Compassion, Tolerance and Honor can and do co-exist in culture, society. Having a guest home is an honor. Being just is an honor a judge a president a prime minister are honorable. Plz do not dilute the concept of Honor with these so called honor killings, they could have called obsessive killings, or these gung ho generals could b called Generals with an Itch. Whatever. These modern mega cities are nothing but graveyards of bricks and concrete. O the Brown Sahibs a tribal siceity is a beautiful society. For the author’s info they do not just live in mountains herding goats and camels. They also live in cities but carry their tribal values and believe me they are more compassionate, more tolerant, and more caring, because they are bonded together by a code. Over and over the author shows his contempt for a group of people by calling them goat herders camel herders. The Generals that the author is talking about must be city folks or tribe less like the author himself. Blaming Honor for the misfortunes of the human race is not fair. Their are other reasons and Greed is one if them.


  • random
    May 7, 2012 - 7:53PM

    every wrongdoing identified in the article is a ‘problem’. in my opinion ‘problems’ are not solved only by bashing problems. one has to go a bit deep to see what actually gives rise to the problem. like is ‘ghairat’ that bad to be the origin of these problems or is it the misuse of ‘ghairat’ that has brought us to the current mess. ghairat in its entirety not only refers to honor, it also refers to respect (something which everyone wants in his own space). so lets not just become ‘bayghairat’ instead keep our heads cool. taking extremes of something never solves a problem, it merely gives rise to another one.


  • Nazir Ahmed
    May 7, 2012 - 7:57PM

    ‘Ghairat’ seems to be misunderstood by the author. To most of us ‘Ghairat’ means protecting our interests without compromising on our values and principles. What is wrong with that? Recommend

  • The con-inspiration-ist
    May 7, 2012 - 8:01PM

    Hodbhoy’s text on ghairat is purposefully perverted by over simplicity – He is be-rating a framework of morality (which in my opinion i don’t buy myself, but one should be able to objectively reason without a reactionary bias towards conventional right-ist norms..i.e. the gherat or honor that he refers to). By criticizing this popular morality of the middle class (i.e. preferring education, feminism, jobs and other virtues of industrialization era driven modernity over ‘meaningless’ honor of Japanese samurai’s and Vietnam’s struggle against external invasion, i.e. because US thought that they should do ‘something’ to stop communists taking over french territory), Hodbhoy is not criticizing middle class, honor-based morality any more – he has stepped over the borderline and questioned the unconscious mind of mankind, the idea of honor roots back to primate’s self-defense, guarding his means and resources for survival and reproduction against nature’s brutal selection, evolving to the modern day man. This is where I’d say that he either purposefully or unconsciously perverted the idea of ‘honor’ and ‘belief’ to anti-feminism by citing men killing their women and bla bla.. Of course, the honor is misinterpreted. He is not questioning that morality any more, the good professor is challenging mankind’s belief system (belief not to be interpreted in religious terms please), the idea of free will and the survival of instinct. On behalf of Mr. Segmund Freud, I’d rather take the offense – for over simplifying the ‘innate instinctive impulses’ and ‘reducing’ the idea of morality, honor and belief system to ‘modernity’. As myself also being somewhat a vagabond, lose Darwinian – his thesis on ‘honor’ must be out rightly rejected in all academic and public circuits on account of disgrace to the idea of natural selection (i.e. ‘honor’ supporting the function of differential reproduction of their bearers).


  • Zalmai
    May 7, 2012 - 8:06PM

    It seems like even the intellectuals of Pakistan are morally and intellectually bankrupt. Why do they always drag Afghans and Indians into every conversation or narrative. Please don’t compare the Afghan Ghairat to the false ghairat propagated in Pakistan.Recommend

  • May 7, 2012 - 8:10PM

    Few good points here and there but I surely disagree with being proudly “baighairat”.

    Ghairat doesn’t directly translate to pride. Yes, pride is the downfall in many cases. Ghairat on the other hand is necessary. Of course diplomatic maneuvering is imperative in advancement of societies and ghairat by itself doesn’t get you too far.

    Today’s Pakistan is proudly bayghairat. Taking American money and giving Pakistani blood.

    Iran on the other hand has stood it’s ground time and time again with GHAIRAT!

    How do you explain IRAN?Recommend

  • Big Rizvi
    May 7, 2012 - 8:17PM

    Very impressive article.


  • Rao
    May 7, 2012 - 8:22PM

    if you want to wake up this natioon, just call it BEGHAIRAT QOM,HUDHARAM,KAMCHOR,all will become honorable and loyal,just talk on media on this issue and then wait their response.
    Its shame on the previous all military rulers and their partners those had crushed this nationa’s sentiments in the name of PAKISTAN,and Islam as well


More in Opinion