THE protest of college students and teachers against the authorities’ refusal to pay heed to their demands had not subsided. On Nov 27, 1973 it was reported that most of the teachers of nationalised colleges continued their boycott of classes for the tenth day despite a warning given to them by the Provincial Education Minister that they would be considered absent if they did not take classes. Some of them, however, approached their principals and showed willingness to resume work. The strike of the students of St Joseph’s College carried on.
The same day, on Nov 27, an international conference on the life and work of astronomer, mathematician, historian and geographer Al-Biruni began in the city. Presiding over the opening session, Prof Y V Gankovsky, head of the Pakistan Department at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow, urged scholars to derive basic ideas from the contributions of Al-Biruni so that links of continuity in learning could be established. Prof of Political Science, Western Michigan University, Dr Lawrence Ziring, in his paper discussed the theme of nationalism and idols in light of the polymath’s work. He was of the view that Al-Biruni did not advocate for a world government but a system essential for peaceful living. He pointed out that the historian was concerned with uneven division of humanity into educated and uneducated groups and the problems involved in raising the consciousness of the masses.
On the second day of the moot, chairman of Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literature, New York University, Prof F E Peters read a paper on ‘Some reflections on the India of Al-Biruni’. He said Al-Biruni was not unsympathetic towards the problems posed by the conflict between religious beliefs.
On the concluding day of the event, speakers strongly supported a proposal for setting up an institute of history and philosophy of science in Karachi. Chancellor of the Aryamehr University of Technology Teheran, Dr Sayyed Hossein Nasr said an institute of such a nature was needed. He hoped that all possible efforts would be made for its establishment and offered maximum cooperation from Iranian scholars in that regard. Prof Gankovsky endorsed the proposal.
These were not the only foreigners who were visiting Karachi at the time. On Dec 1, the French Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral de Joybert arrived in Karachi on a six-day goodwill tour of Pakistan. He started the day by laying a wreath at the Quaid’s mausoleum and followed it with a visit to the naval headquarters where he inspected a 30-man Pakistan Navy guard of honour.
As far as Karachi’s cultural life was concerned, on Dec 2, popular TV and radio star Neelofar Aleem got married to radio producer Qamar Ali Abbasi at a local hotel in the city. The nikah ceremony was attended by a large number of artistes. Begum Nusrat Bhutto also came to the wedding reception. According to a report, the ever smiling and talkative Neelofar Aleem fell under the spell of silence after donning the bridal costume, but a few words from Begum Bhutto broke that spell… and she was her smiling self again.
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2023