It's a caaarrrrr: Why did Pakistan over-react to wheels on water?

What made Pakistan react so vociferously to a water car? I find it interesting that despite it there was almost no talk of how they had been embarrassed before the world, quite unlike our media did when we had a major power grid failure.

It is a nation that thrives on a healthy dose of superstition, although how an engineering experiment, whatever be its merits, can qualify as superstition beats me. Most discoveries have taken place with only hypothesis. Now that we do have some knowledge, does it mean the denial of other probabilities? If science can land on the moon, in a deliciously ironical reversal it is the religious who think this is bunkum. No different from ‘rational’ superstition. And now we are getting to Mars.

Agha Waqar Ahmad believes he can make a car run on water. 

Barely had the chatter started and TV channels were discussing it than there was an outcry against it. Let us assume that this car just cannot work and it only made for some interesting TV, probably brought tears to the eyes of a few, how did it shake up the scientific community? Did people line up to try it out? Were the petrol stations and diesel pumps rendered redundant by any group of people? This was not even a bathtub moment. Yet, a respected physicist like Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy held forth in an Op-ed piece titled, ‘The Water Car Fraud’. A scientist responding to a fraud is like a cordon bleu chef dissing street food.

Here is what he wrote:

“At first, it sounded like a joke: a self-styled engineer, trained in Khairpur’s polytechnic institute, claims to have invented a ‘water kit’ enabling any car to run on water alone. It didn’t matter that the rest of world couldn’t extract energy from water; he had done it. He promised a new Pakistan with limitless energy, no need for petrol or gas, and no more loadshedding. For an energy starved nation, it is a vision of paradise.”

Why can Pakistan not do what the rest of the world cannot? Mr Agha Waqar had made no promises. There was some jubilation, and typically Hoodbhoy pointed out names of some religious figures and a few ministers.

Someone rightly pointed out that there was a case in India about a man who had made similar claims about herbs. I know that a couple of respected business houses had run some elementary tests and there was even talk of a patent. It fell through because of lack of sustainability and, obviously, commercial viability.

I do not know anything about thermodynamics, and have no interest in water cars, but Prof. Hoodbhoy overstates:

“Scientific frauds exist in other countries, but what explains their spectacular success in Pakistan? Answer: our leaders are lost in the dark, fumbling desperately for a miracle; our media is chasing spectacle, not truth; and our great scientists care more about being important than about evidence. It is easy for them all to get away with this.”

How many scientific frauds have succeeded in Pakistan? It is true that politicians will make merry, but not because they believe in the experiment but it helps divert a nation’s attention. This is done the world over – some do it by conquering other nations, or by creating paranoia. The media has given more than enough space to respected people like him as well as satirists who would fail to deliver a line without such inspiration. As for the great scientists, one assumes their greatness has been verified in a laboratory. How have all of them got away with it? What will they get from it?

And just for argument's sake, is it not possible that some big lobby does not want small players? 

And how many Pakistanis have access to regular water, forget own cars? If a case is being made for such ‘issues’, then opposing something fake makes no sense at all.

The mind boggles at how a little water can cause a storm.

- - -

I posted a comment on the piece, half in jest; it landed up on the letters page:

This is an insult to your nation. I do not mean this lovely little dream machine, but an Op-ed to say that you cannot dream. It isn't as though people were tanking up with baltis and piping it in their cars. One man with a sense of drama does not mean that the Hondas would die a slow death.

The media, at least this time, sold a harmless story and did not sponge on some blood.

Water is an important symbol. In India, we have many such 'miracles' - water spouting from deities/shrines. People worship at water sources that are polluted. If only we had someone with a wet dream too, we'd save on petrol to visit these miracle sites!

Someone read it and sent a reply to me here. I reproduce it in full because it reveals just what people choose to pick on:


I just read your comment on express tribune about water car fraud.

You have your opinion about that issue, but dragging others religion aka Hinduism in to the issue and making fun of it in a Pakistani website shows how perverted your mind is..

The water fraud issue is a matter of science and the religion is a matter of faith. Its their faith that tells them to take a dip in a holy river even though it is polluted. You may not agree with their faith but do not insult them.

As a matter of faith, Islam also has many un-natural and unbelievable beliefs that mention about 72 virgins,caliphate... blah blah.... . Should i also need to act as a flag marcher on blogs and websites and insult it? Answer is Absolutely no...

Our country is based on secular principles that tells us to respect other faiths even though u do not believe others faith. That's how our country survived for the last 65 years and still continue even though it consists of people from different ethnicity, religions, castes.. etc.

So please refrain from insulting other faiths of the country. If you do not agree with me you have various countries ( i hope u know those countries) to live and propagate ur views where those views are encouraged officially.

Sorry if am being harsh to you but truth hurts...

To call this truth should hurt more.


  1. Did you notice the edit in your letter on ET's website? Hahaha. Only dry dreams for ET. :)

  2. Oho, I just saw it. Really, they will flash these Veena Maliks to show how liberal they are, but not with this!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.