The art of science

-Illustration by Nadir Siddiqui /

This is how everything turns political: Someone says, no politics and religion in this room please; other agrees, I am apolitical and don’t believe in religion; the third one adds his voice, I hate politicians and religious leaders.

All three are making political statements, without meaning to. And so is the fourth one who gets up to point out that two Muslims have publicly admitted to losing faith and therefore the audience should be allowed half an hour to go out and gather enough stones to dispatch the mardoods to hell, right here, right now.

This blog was never meant to be political. But then some smart techie added ‘thumb up’ and ‘thumb down’ buttons next to the readers’ comments, and the politics begins. ‘I don’t agree with this. Why you always see the dark side can’t you see the achievement of Pakistanis? There is just a long list no need to me notion just open your eyes and see the other side’. This is Imran and he gets three ‘likes’.

‘With the situation being such, I am surprised you managed to write this column. You must be really exhausted by now. Poor fellow’. This is Raika 45 and she gets 13 likes. Johnny steals the show with his tongue-in-cheek: ‘Good. Now how about writing an article on another attribute of Pakistani, being critical of everything and never delivering. Having an answer for everything but just talk and no action …’ and he gets a whopping 25 likes.

Compare this with Asif Ansari’s: ‘Good, your every words tell the story of TRUTH,’ that won him zero likes and Mohsin Sayeed’s unabashed praise: ‘Kudos for writing it as we experience it. I am so glad that someone else on this planet shares my opinion about Pakistanis and gareebs …’ earned him a minus two.

See the politics? A majority likes the comments that are critical of the writer for being … critical. But let it be as it may. I have to respect readers’ opinion and respond to it politically, and so giving in to the popular demand, this piece will strive not to see the dark side or to be critical of anything, and instead will look at and admire the many achievements of Pakistanis.

On second thoughts, and after googling ‘Pakistanis’ achievements’ many times, I am afraid I have only one, but a worthy achievement to talk about: the world exclusive, the invention of the millennium, the ‘water kit’ that frees up automobiles from the stranglehold of hydrocarbons. The perfect fuel is here, and it is good old water. How much energy is required for a car to travel from Hyderabad to Karachi? The energy needed to draw two jugs of water from the hand pump, is the new correct answer.

Almost every country on the planet has claimed this particular invention at some point within the last half century but Waqar Ahmed Agha is the man because he not only invented something that has been invented many times before, but also because he is our man, a Pakistani. He is B.Tech from the world renowned Government College of Technology, Khairpur. The college is not recognised by the world wide web today – you google college’s name and the only entry that comes up is a tender notice for some civil work in the said institution – but riding on the possibility of one of its graduates earning an international patent for something the world’s best brains and laboratories haven’t been able to produce, it is expecting its name to come up in the top ten, next time someone searches for Ivy League Centres of Scientific Excellence in northern Sindh.

What Mr. Agha, who is fondly introduced as a mechanical engineer and an inventor par excellence, has done is beyond engineering, beyond alchemy, Quantum theory and Mendel’s laws: He has given the thriving but subdued community of closeted scientists a sense of achievement, obligation and direction. He has shown to the whole world that intellectual inferiority, academic poverty and lack of technical skills and aptitude are no hindrance when one commits oneself to running a motorbike, a truck, and eventually a power generation plant, on water. He has shown the stuff Pakistanis are made of. He has made us all proud and unleashed the creative scientist among us.

You could literally count the number of hours that elapsed between the Sindhi genius’ announcement and the unveiling of a similar system in Lahore by another brilliant water-kit inventor called Dr. Chaudhry Ghulam Sarwar. Dr. Sarwar has done only two things in life: studying and teaching commerce, and studying and propagating Islam. A scientific breakthrough is the obvious outcome a believer expects of the two occupations. ‘This car,’ Dr. Sarwar says brimming with the confidence of a non-resident Pakistani from Britain (though, to make things complicated he was born and educated in East Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively) while pointing to a car behind him, in his famous TV appearance ‘can be runned on water’ and its exhaust pipe emits pure oxygen, not the lowly carbon. God be praised.

Imagine the possibilities: Both petrol and CNG stations are closed and your car is running low on fuel. You could still take a very sick person to hospital on a couple of glasses of water, with a rubber pipe connected with the exhaust, providing oxygen into the patient’s breathing mask. Or running the engine on idle in the street so children can lie down next to the exhaust and take in all the oxygen their lungs need, for free. Or setting up huge power generators in every locality that turn water into electricity. Load shedding? That already sounds so last century.

What makes Pakistanis special is the way we have embraced and celebrated both our heroes (and those who may have cropped up by the time this piece is published), regardless of their ethnicity, facial hair, and their grasp of spoken English. From common people to TV anchorpersons, politicians, and luminaries in the most scientific of human quests – eliminating the largest number of living beings in the shortest time – who also happen to be the father and paternal uncles to our science, technology and the bomb, have all joined in to welcome the breakthrough that has placed Pakistan on par with Western countries in terms of scientific study and innovation.

Pakistan wasn’t always this lucky with the brilliance and abundance of its scientists. There have been impostors like Dr. Abdul Salam who dazzled the whole world with their pretend genius but couldn’t fool us into believing their claptrap. I can’t criticise him more as I am bound by my own vow, so let’s just say we don’t need to hear about this sham Noble laureate any more than the once-after-every-few-years news item about the desecration of his grave in Rabwah, renamed Chenab Nagar against the wish of the thankless people of this central Punjab city.

This is no time to look back though. It’s time to usher in a shining bright future that will be fuelled by water, and our collective belief that Allah can turn water into a combustible material if we pray and wish enough. In the words of a TV reporter’s piece to camera: ‘In this age of knowledge-based economy, if innovators like Dr. Sarwar are encouraged, there’s every reason we can overcome our many economic crises including the energy crisis’. Ameen. Summ ameen.


Masud Alam is an Islamabad-based writer, columnist and journalism trainer. He can be reached at


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Masud Alam is an Islamabad-based writer, columnist and journalism trainer. He can be reached at

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (62) Closed

Masud Alam
Aug 17, 2012 04:24pm
Thanks for analysing my problem dear Mohammad. Now to the solution: how do I turn into a superiority complex?
Aug 09, 2012 01:57pm
Glad to see some optimism otherwise most of Pakistani bloggers are masters of creating dome day scenario all the time. Keep up the good work a little bit of optimism is not a bad thing, Pakistan needs it.
Gogi Machhera
Aug 09, 2012 02:09pm
Can't we just leave Agha Waqar alone and let him rest in peace?
Aug 09, 2012 02:13pm
Do you expect from people who run their cars on a gallon of water to understand your satire?
Syed Ahmed
Aug 09, 2012 02:23pm
We have abundant of coal in Thar. Let us revert to steam age. Cars, locomotives, power generators, all running on steam – of course water has its importance.
Aug 09, 2012 03:05pm
An effort ( how useless ) is still an effort. We should do our part, improve ourselves and look forward to improving ourselves. Good write.
Aug 09, 2012 03:09pm
The day is very near when water will turn into a combustible material in #Pakistan
Aug 09, 2012 03:14pm never fails you! You'll get your likes from both sides ;)
Aug 09, 2012 03:30pm
Let the poor guy go. Enough sarcasm, criticism. Our people lack patience. Lets just see what result the tests unveil.
Aug 09, 2012 03:45pm
Excellent article. Could not stop laughing. It is only in Pakistan that such ideas like cars running on water can be taken seriously. Unfortunately, our country is full of sparsely educated TV anchors and politicians.
Aug 09, 2012 03:45pm
Do yourself a favour and get your head examined. Ameen
Inayat Khattak
Aug 09, 2012 03:46pm
Hats off, Mr Masood! What a piece you have produced! It's simply the best I have read for a long time. Keep up the good work.
Aug 09, 2012 06:34pm
very nice sir, it is easier to mar here than make,
Aug 10, 2012 10:02am
emaan: read the article again - it's satire :)
Masood Hussatn
Aug 09, 2012 07:08pm
I am amazed at the spare time some blogers have to write such,beautiful and hilarious thogh,but utterly useless and futile pieces.I have only sympathy for poor mr.Waqar Ali.
Aug 10, 2012 08:12am
dear masud, it seems your problem is that you are in an inferiority complex. you know how to criticize. you are not encouraging becasuse the criticism will hve more readership. you should realise that in this messy PAKISTAN at least there is a voice whichhas tried something. if it was an englishman, you would go personally to watch its demo. shame on us who have wasted time in criticising and not encouraging talent in our coyntry. at least waqar has an idea. big things have a small beginning. please learn to analyse and appreciate whatever little you have. do not lose hope it is kufr.
Aug 09, 2012 08:30pm
A cheery article and a good read. It raises one concern, though -- if I am stuck with the car in the middle of the Saudi desert, how am I going to get water? Should I expect the Saudis to start creating new oases for the traveler, or will they just keep pumping oil? Just wondering.
Cyrus Howell
Aug 09, 2012 08:47pm
"The Greatest Enemy Of Knowledge Is Not Ignorance... ...It Is The Illusion Of Knowledge" -- Stephen Hawking
Aug 09, 2012 09:51pm
Like like, a million likes! Your restraint from criticism is more devastating than any criticism that could be leveled.
Aug 10, 2012 11:38am
Dear Writer! I would like to point out a technical point in your article... the Exhaust pipe would be giving you pure Water ... not pure oxygen. So you would be MURDERING your patient. :) You would not need to go to any hospital but instead to a Police Station to confess your crime :) . Cheers
n usmani
Aug 10, 2012 12:09am
Excellent writing
Aug 10, 2012 02:26am
Very funny. :D.
Aug 10, 2012 02:31am
I agree to a large extent with the arguments in this article. But please do not forget that Pakistan has been extensively worked on (by those who never accepted its creation and by those who are afraid of its talent) to become like this. And still there are few flickers of hope which show resilience of this battered nation. If only we separate religion from molvi-ism and make it a subject of rational study like business and science, things could dramatically change. But can it be done carries a huge question mark.
Aug 10, 2012 03:04am
I have googled this DR name and water kit ...! i did not found any internation media report......! is it really true that car run on water???? i know car can be run on hydrogen but car can run on water on same engine ....! apollo sapce suttle was hydrogen powered>>>>!
Aug 10, 2012 03:43am
Can a car run on water, as Agha Waqar proclaims or not, is a scientific question that has nothing to do with religion. I am skeptical about his invention as well just like Ar. Ata ur Rehman and Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, but on scientific and technical grounds. Why do people like yourself and Nadeem F. Paracha have to turn every debate into a debate against Islam in particular and religion in general? Being liberal and being an atheist are two different things. Unfortunately, people like you tend to use them interchangeably. Infact, I personally tend to see yours and NFP's views as atheist extremist and not liberal at all. If you want to debate about something, whether in favour or against, you must read about it thoroughly first.
Aug 10, 2012 08:09am
when water can produce thousands of megawatts of electricity in a hydro-power project whats big deal in running a lowly car on it?
Aug 10, 2012 11:31am
Not surprising. AFter all the news in Pakistan has always been that India stripped electricity off the waters of Indus before letting it out to Pakistan and hence it is useless water.
Aug 10, 2012 12:25pm
science is all about trial and error. albeit it a fake attempt to gain attention by the so called hydro run automobile, nevertheless it is a trial....99% failures lead to 1% success...but the sweetness of 1% is all too whelming to keep trialing....
Aug 10, 2012 05:06am
really enjoyed this article.
Aug 10, 2012 07:04am
Can we for ONCE leave Islam alone and treat a subject for what it it really is ? Instead of discussing the feasibility and possibility of a can run by water, the writer HAD to turn into satire and take pot shots at religion ( read: Islam) that is Secularism's worst enemy !!!
Aug 10, 2012 07:14am
Pakistanis are people who believe in unscientific ideas and things therefore we cannot progress.
Aug 10, 2012 07:32am
Salam,sorry to say "a blog without any wisdom and sense".Optimism is allowed but not to such seems that writer has not studied science nor even touched it during his life.Water kit can be a good experiment at a local engineering college or technology institute but considering this crap as a solution of all energy crises ,will mean living in a fool's paradise.This device uses battery (stored energy) to convert water into its constituent elements i.e hidden source of energy.So we should use our brains too rather conceding anything right ,presented to us. Thanks
Iqbal khan
Aug 10, 2012 07:58am
No we can't we want our water kit?
Aug 10, 2012 08:49am
i know all this is embarrassing and unscientific.but have you ever figured out possible ways and strategies to bring about scientific knowledge and research to our universities, to improve the aptitude of this nation and show him the right direction to use his energy. this is a long and perilous way. will you ever dare to work out ,devise and tell the nation the' ROAD MAP' or just keep on criticizing in a satirical way?
Aug 10, 2012 11:34am
Hi I think it was a good article but what I dont understand is WHY is the world media and more so the PAKISTANI media not giving the car a proper coverage ? They should have it on every paper and TV in the world its definately the creation of the Century. I also wonder what has been done to safeguard the PATENT. And finally I really think for now at least leave Islam out of it and concentrate on how to get this idea up and running.
Amir Saeed
Aug 10, 2012 11:50am
Devastating Wit! Superb!
Wasif Malik
Aug 10, 2012 02:11pm
Sarcasm is at its best or worst I should say. All creative thinking, innovative efforts, and the will to go beyond the box, must be encouraged. Talent could exist anywhere regardless of Khairpur or NUST. Mr. Agha did not invent this stuff overnight. It must have taken time, effort, money and resources and the desire to experiment with existing ideas. Only those with dedication and obsession indulge in such activities. Read the history of Wright brothers. If he failed, it is still a cause for celebration and potentially inspiration for others to innovate.
Aug 10, 2012 02:55pm
No need to worry. its simpler to convret petrol to water than the other way !
Aug 10, 2012 02:56pm
Nice article!
Aug 10, 2012 03:20pm
thumbs up.... enjoyed your article :)
Aug 10, 2012 03:30pm
Tests done by whom?? The famous TV anchors or Zion Hamid
Aug 10, 2012 03:55pm
The author is not taking aim at Islam, but just the massess blind belief in what they think is Islam.
Aug 10, 2012 03:55pm
Leave Islam out of it please!
Aug 10, 2012 04:13pm
Dear, Its not a job of social commentator to devise 'ROAD MAP' for scientific innovations nor it is for media/anchor persons. That's why in developed countries they have consultant/technical people to advise the so called 'ROAD MAP' to the politicians and media so they can make it their priority and inform people about the socioeconomic benefits they can get from the said 'ROAD MAP'. HIS job is to point out the hypocrisies and ignorance in media, mainstream politics and society in general which he has done superbly.
Aug 10, 2012 04:27pm
Dear ALL, Its not a job of social commentator to advise on scientific innovations nor it is for media/anchor persons to do so. Developed countries rely on scientific/academic experts to bring out the ideas which people in society listen to (unless you are from Al-Bakistan), and then politicians/media make it their priority to propagate them in society. HIS job is to point out the hypocrisies and ignorance which he has done superbly. These so called media persons have no clue about peer review journals/scientific rigor needed to bring out the ideas. At the very least these media/newspaper houses should bring technical expertise into their organizations as advisers/consultant so HOAX like these can be exposed and some utility/curiosity of science can be instilled in public...
Aug 10, 2012 04:50pm
If we can believe that Niel Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, is a Muslim; the cracks on the Moon, called riles, cased by volcanic activitiy, billions of years ago, is evidence that the Prophet (PBUH) broke the Moon into two with his finger, never mind that if such a thing had happend, it would have been recorded by cultures all over the world and would have been evident in their stories and songs for centuries. Of course many of us believe that we have created a water-powered car.
Aug 10, 2012 05:09pm
put your hands together for jamal bhai
G. Shirazi
Aug 10, 2012 05:48pm
When I was growing up in India during pre-partition days, several buses ran on wood. A tank at the back of the bus will burn wood to create heat which in turn will heat water which generated steam. The bus ran on steam and not water. This Pakistani car may be utilizing the same principal. Our biggest problem is---where you get source of heat? Coal is not mined in large quantities, trees are all but gone, natural gas is depleting, oil needs to be impoprted. May Allah help Pakistan.
Dr Imran Ahmed
Aug 10, 2012 05:59pm
Wonderfully written witty satire! It is the complete absence of rational thought being voiced by the majority of my compatriots that amazes me. They are eulogising the charlatan even after he has been exposed! They will readily swallow the words of the next one and the one after so as not to be rationally sceptical. They take pride in shunning logic.
Aug 10, 2012 07:36pm
Here are some facts for every one:o World Jewish Population. 14 million 7 m in America 5 m in Asia 2 m in Europe 100 thousand in Africa
Aug 10, 2012 07:37pm
o World Muslim Population:1.5 Billion I Billion in Asia/Mid-East 400 M in Africa 44 M in Europe 6 M in the Americas o Every fifth human being is a Muslim.20% o For every single Hindu there are two Muslims1 : 2 o For every Buddhist there are two Muslims1 : 2 o For every Jew there are 107 Muslims1 : 107
Aug 10, 2012 07:38pm
Yet the 14 million Jews are more powerful than the entire 1.5 Billion Muslims. Lets find why?
Aug 10, 2012 07:38pm
Movers of Current History o Albert EinsteinJewish o Sigmund FreudJewish o Karl MarxJewish o Paul SamuelsonJewish o Milton FriedmanJewish
Aug 10, 2012 07:44pm
Conclusion 1. The Muslim World lacks the capacity to produce knowledge. Another way of testing the degree of knowledge is the degree of disseminating knowledge. o Pakistan. 23 daily newspapers per 1000 citizens o Singapore. 460 per 1000 citizens. o UK. Book titles per million is 2000 o Egypt. Book titles per million is only 17
Aug 10, 2012 07:44pm
Conclusion 2. o Muslim World is failing to disseminate knowledge Applying knowledge is another such test. o Export of high tech products from Pakistan is 0.9% of its total exports.. o From Saudi Arabia it is 0.2% o From Kuwait , Morocco and Algeria it is 0.3% o From Singapore alone it is 68%
Aug 10, 2012 07:45pm
Conclusion 3. Muslim World is failing to apply knowledge. What do “YOU” conclude? No need to tell ! … the figures are speaking themselves very loudly - We are unable to listen and accept. We are only busy in proving each other wrong by arguments with poor or insufficient knowledge.
Aug 10, 2012 08:46pm
Who is Stephen Hawking? ;) Both ignorance and illusion are knowledge .. look them up in dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia!
Aug 10, 2012 10:14pm
What is author stated is correct. H2O, water is the fuel in this case, is broken intro H (Hydrogen to power the car) and O2 (two atoms of oxygen) as the by product exiting thru the exhaust. Theoretically it is possible, to split Water into Hydrogen and Oxygen and use the Hydrogen to power the car, but the energy required to split water molecule into Hydrogen and Oxygen is alot more intensive and needs more energy than energy created by Hydrogen. So that is the main conundrum and reason why splitting Water into Hydrogen Fuel and Oxygen by product (Exhaust) is not economically feasible but can be done.
Chickoo Khan
Aug 11, 2012 03:06am
Eureka! I've Discovered The Only Way this Water Car Will Work: You can Push the Car and Drink Water As and When You Need to.
Zeeshan Shamsi
Aug 11, 2012 04:02am
You guys don't do that??
Zeeshan Shamsi
Aug 11, 2012 04:10am
A marvelous piece....but I liked the original article better...Brilliant discovery of the "invention" (imported from USA) to give oxygen from the exhaust...Put the exhaust directly into the ORs of government hospitals...Now Lahore will have really pure air and it will attract more Indian tourists than your articles...
Aug 11, 2012 04:37am
Necessity is the mother of invention. Most of Ideas comes in mind that how to solve Energy crises in Pakistan. We shouldnt to depend upon on theroies only mad before. Theories can becomes wrong too in course of time. Energy can change to an other form but cant end. In my mind an idea. if on the top of vehicles fit some small wind running fan and charge the battery etc, and so on at houses electricity fan. through it can run the vehicles etc.