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Irfan Husain
--: Biography of Irfan Husain :--


Irfan Husain   has been writing on a wide range of subjects for newspapers in Pakistan and elsewhere since 1970. He currently writes two weekly columns for Dawn, Pakistan’s widely circulated and highly respected daily. As a civil servant, he used a number of pseudonyms, including Mazdak.
In the face of rising religiosity in Pakistan, IH has maintained a secular, democratic worldview in his columns that reflect an abiding faith in humanism and reason. He has consistently refuted the inflamed levels of hysterical anti-west and extremist sentiments that increasingly dominate the public discourse in much of the Pakistani media.
Born in Amritsar, India, in 1944, IH migrated to the newly created state of Pakistan with his parents in 1947. His father, Dr Akhtar Husain Raipuri, was an eminent Sanskrit scholar, a literary critic, and a short-story writer who received his PhD from Sorbonne University. His mother, Hameeda, was a famous author as well, beginning her illustrious literary career late in life after her husband’s death in 1992.
After attending primary school in Karachi’s famous St Patrick’s School, IH spent three years studying at a high school in Paris. As a result of further studies and visits to France, he remains fluent in French. Returning to Pakistan, IH finished his high school studies in Karachi, and went to Turkey on a scholarship to study chemical engineering at the Middle East Technical University (METU). He left after a year, deciding that he was not cut out to be an engineer. Nevertheless, he retains a great fondness for Turkey, and visits it often. Returning to Karachi, he joined Karachi University where he did a Master’s degree in economics. Immediately after graduating in 1967, he joined Pakistan’s civil service where he remained for the next 30 years, working in a wide variety of jobs, ranging from being on Prime Minister ZA Bhutto’s speech-writing team in the mid-Seventies to being posted as Information Minister at Pakistan’s embassy in Washington during Benazir Bhutto’s first government in 1989-90.
IH took early retirement in 1997 to help set up and run the Textile Institute of Pakistan (TIP) as its first president. Throughout his working life, he has continued writing, and has been associated with Dawn on a freelance basis since 1991. He has recently finished a book on Muslim attitudes towards America. Tentatively titled Fatal Faultline, the book is expected to be launched in the United States in November 2011.
Apart from his deep interest in politics, education, the environment and economics, IH reads history extensively, and follows developments in astrophysics and quantum physics. He awaits the appearance of the Higgs boson, or the ‘God particle’ with great impatience. A keen science fiction fan, IH confesses to being an escapist at heart.
After leaving TIP in 2003, IH divides his time between Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the UK. He enjoys cooking, and has written extensively about food.
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