September 18, 2017


I am an engineer and I have a problem.

Engineers are supposed to be problem solvers but nobody pays heed to their complaints. This must end.

When poets like our own Allama Iqbal, make a complaint to God by way of the poem “Shikwa”, the Almighty takes the time to reply with an answer through “Jawab e Shikwa”.

The opposition politicians of Pakistan take their grievance to the Supreme Court and the honorable judges kick out an elected prime minister.

Folks from every profession, teachers, nurses, doctors, sanitary workers, pilots, cabin crews are often on strike to press for their demands. Ever seen an engineer carrying a placard demanding anything?

No Sir, there is no one to pay heed to the complaints of a humble engineer because engineers are thought of as the flywheels of the world that keep it turning steadily and flywheels are nothing but a hunk of metal not worthy of respect.

If it turns out that some famous person is an engineer there is great surprise as if some kind of miracle has happened. Try telling someone that Yasir Arafat was a civil engineer or Wen Jiaobao the Chinese premier is a geo-chemical engineer, or the famous Rowan Atkison aka Mr. Bean is an electrical engineer.

Even sadder is the fact that pretty ladies also think of engineers as nerds and devoid of social graces. Another charge the ladies lay against engineers is that they are too logical and don’t understand emotions. In short, engineers are reduced to romancing the machines.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not asking for instant celebrity status, tons of money or forty virgins. I am just humbly submitting the following:

Please open your eyes and look around you. What do you see? Well, if you are lucky not to be living on the street, you will see your house and the objects inside it. The house itself, the 50 inch TV (Mashallah!), the 20 speaker surround sound system, the fridge, the stove, the iron to press your clothes, the all important pot and wash basin to differentiate you from the animals that roam the earth, the light bulbs (energy savers please), the electricity generation system that put the juice in the wires to cater to your gadget fetish, your computer, the cell phone etc. The planes that fly and the trains that crawl. Need I continue with the list of lust that we engineers cater to?

Yet, you switch on the marvelous product of engineering, your TV, and what do you see there? The idiotic politicians and ignorant journalists shouting their lungs out on the talk shows, models on catwalks, movie stars, serials about brilliant doctors who are the heartthrobs of the young lady doctors and nurses; dramas about a brilliant young lawyer in his thousand dollar suit saving a billion dollar blonde heiress of the charge of killing her multi-billion dollar husband; even a pot bellied policeman bringing peace to a troubled part of Los Angeles. The list is endless. But have you ever seen an engineer stepping out of his Ferrari and has skimpily clad young ladies swooning over his latest invention? Or a hall full of well fed folks giving an engineer a standing ovation for creating a truck that will rapidly pick up the awful offal from the streets after Eid ul Azha? No Sir, this engineer says “I ain’t seen that never!”

The best an engineer can hope to achieve is a steady job that renders him / her as being eligible for marriage, and a mortgage on a two bedroom house in a boring suburb. These are the only rewards.

I am hereby calling out to all the engineers to rebel. So, the next time the callous world switches on their car, it does not start. And if it starts after a “dhakka” (push) it does not stop when the brakes are pressed. The airplanes stop flying, the trains stop in their tracks, the internet stops working, and worst of all, Facebook and Whatsapp stop working!   And of course, the toilets stop flushing. Good luck to you, thankless world; it is time to move back to the caves. Bring along some sticks and knives to kill for food and a few goat-skins for modesty.

So here are our demands:

  1. There should be at least two TV shows every day that feature an engineer as hero / heroine
  2. A ceremony as glamorous as the academy awards to honor the best inventions of the year. The award presenters should be from Hollywood, Bollywood, and Lollywood.
  3. Every national anthem should include praise for the creativity of the engineers. Since the correct Urdu word for engineer is “Mohindus”, a line should be added to the Pakistani national anthem,”Mohindus e Haseen Shaad Baad”.
  4. An engineer should be entitled to one free object of what he creates. So an automobile engineer gets a free car, a computer engineer a computer of his choice, a genetic engineer a pair of the designer XY jeans, a nuclear engineer should be given a free nuclear bomb (but strictly for personal use) and so on.
  5. Engineers should be exempt from paying electricity, phone, water and gas bills since all these services are due to the inventiveness of the engineers.

If these demands are not met within 60 days of the printing of this document, we the engineers reserve the right to go on working indefinitely!

Engineers of the world unite: you have nothing to lose; not even your chains!





The writer is an engineer by training and a social scientist by inclination.