by Omar Ali
In late July 2012 Pakistan was gripped by water-car fever when an “inventor” named Aga Waqar (a diploma holder from Khairpur Sindh with very limited engineering or scientific knowledge) claimed that he had invented a “waterkit” that could be used to run any car (or other internal combustion engine) on nothing but water. The kit apparently consists of a cylinder that supposedly produces hydrogen from water, a plastic pipe that takes the hydrogen to the engine and a container in which water is stored. The cylinder is connected to the car battery. That’s it. The claim is that a secret process developed by Aga Waqar and his partners (one of whom is a software designer) uses “resonance” and “milliamps” of electricity to generate unlimited amounts of hydrogen to run the engine.
Prominent news-show anchors like Talat and Hamid Mir fell for it and social media was lit up with comments about Allah’s gift to Pakistan in Ramadan and demands to provide security to the inventor, who would undoubtedly face the wrath of “big oil” and imperialist powers as he tried to make Pakistan a water-fuelled superpower. A site generally thought to be affiliated with the security establishment published a detailed “SWOT analysis” that completely missed the point that this device was an impossibility on first principles and managed to hint at international conspiracies in the best Paknationalist fashion. Star postmodern columnist Ejaz Haider later wrote a densely worded op-ed arguing that science is not infallible and secular societies should not regard themselves as uniquely rational (or something like that, Ejaz Sahib’s postmodern columns are not easy to decipher).