The 2018 Sarfraz Pakistan Lecture was delivered by nuclear physicist Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy on October 18th at Wolfson College, Oxford. The lecture was introduced by College President Sir Tim Hitchens.
Pakistan in 2018 elected as its new leader a crusading populist heading a young, inexperienced political movement. Widespread hopes for social change will soon clash with profound crises which are existential in nature. I will look at three issues where failure to find a path forward may imperil the future stability of the country and the lives of its people. First, there is a monumental and worsening crisis of governance, state legitimacy and national identity which accommodates and even fosters Islamist radicals but marginalizes progressive forces and stands in the way of structural reform. Second, climate change and the growing demands from an exploding population cast a growing shadow over the natural environment. And third, the growing reliance on nuclear weapons to shield Pakistan as its army seeks to settle scores with India creates risks of catastrophe. I shall discuss how Pakistan may possibly work itself away from these difficulties.