When Dr Inayatullah Khan passed away last Friday, Pakistan and the countrys academia lost a leading advocate for the social sciences. Upon completion of his university career at home and a United Nations career abroad, Dr Inayatullah came back home to establish the independent organisation named Council of Social Sciences, COSS, in Islamabad, which he coordinated for a decade, until ill health in advanced age caught up with him. Now Dr Zarina Salamat has to continue the secretariats work alone with the help of the COSS board and other members, and young supporters like Imdadullah Khan, who just completed his MPhil while being attached to COSS. As we mourn Dr Inaya-tullahs passing, we should also celebrate his achievements in social sciences and the humanities, COSS being the achievement I will draw attention to here, as its importance cannot be overstated. In Pakistan, social sciences have not yet been given the prominence they ought to have in our time in colleges, universities, research establishments and government departments. True, Pakistan is a country of traders and salesmen in their shops and accounts offices, army men in their barracks, poor men tied to the land, rich men and aloof upper class living abroad more than at home, and all the other men and women, who have enough with struggling to earn a living to buy the daily bread. Few, if any of the above, are likely to fight for social science teaching, research and analysis. But Pakistan is also a land of poets and writers, which we have just been reminded of this week when observing the Iqbal Day. And Pakistan has its thinkers and religious philosophers, and there are youngsters, belonging to the IT and YouTube generation, who are bursting with ideas and plans. Some of them focus on finding ways out of Pakistan, but the majority focuses on what to do at home, and that is what they should do. There is no excuse then for Pakistan not to do well in social sciences and the humanities, in the thinking and analysing subjects. So, why does it not? But first, is the state of the social sciences and the humanities that low? When COSS, with UNESCO and two universities - QIAU and FJWU - in 2003 for the first time held a national conference about the state of affairs, they seem to have concluded that there was a lot to be desired, to say it mildly. The then Chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Prof. Dr Attaur Rehman, himself from the pure sciences by training, but with deeper understanding of the role of the social sciences than many from within, had just set up a special Committee for the Development of Social Sciences. Since then, there has not been a watershed of change, but a few things have happened; more students write their dissertations, albeit often without highly qualified supervisors. The other day, a European diplomat said that she was quite impressed with the number of dissertations and the variety of topics. Yet, she was concerned about the hidden fate of most dissertations and the lack of easy access to them. In the recent decade, I believe there has been clearer understanding for the importance of the social sciences, especially by leaders at colleges and universities. Some carry out contracted studies commissioned by the United Nations, private consultancy firms and even the government. In future, universities might very well have their own consultancy wings, regulating tasks and also exposing their academicians to the 'real world through applied research and other studies. I have over the years had the opportunity to visit a number of universities in Pakistan, especially discussing issues in education, and the fields of refugee, migration development studies. Unfortunately, I have found very few enthusiastic research environments in these fields. Well, I have met eager students, but often sedate staff. This semester, I have had the pleasure of having close affiliation to the young University of Gujrat, which the dynamic Vice Chancellor Prof Dr M. Nizamuddin runs, a sociologist himself, and a specialist in the interdisciplinary field of population studies. He does not let a chance go by to underline the importance and potential of the social sciences. Recently, I heard him talking about the importance of social science degree studies being broad and also interdisciplinary, not just focusing on memorising knowledge and methods in one or two subjects. He emphasised the importance of being trained in analysing issues, and in trying to understand complex topics. He tentatively suggested that a degree, such as a four-year BA (Hons), could be an interdisciplinary degree, or rather, a professional degree in social sciences like in the professions of engineering, law and medicine. When I was a young social scientist in Norway in the early-mid 1970s, in education, media and development studies, we also thought that interdisciplinary studies were important. And development studies were by definition interdisciplinary. The worlds northernmost, the University of Troms, had just been opened and it did precisely offer interdisciplinary degrees in the social sciences. Alas, today the university has 'come into the fold and it has established disciplines like the other, more prestigious universities. One reason for this might be the requirement for in-depth studies in one field. Perhaps, also because of the vast amount of easily accessible, but rather superficial knowledge we all get through the internet today. We need to be specialists in a limited field, and then we can widen our horizon to collect and evaluate data from many fields. I still believe that interdisciplinary studies are important, and I believe we must focus more than ever on the methods for research and analysis. Hence, the importance not only of learning formal scientific methodology, but also learning to think and analyse. Easier said than done? Probably, but not if you have daring and open-minded teachers, who teach their students to seek information and question it, not just learn it teachers, who have no fear of not knowing all the answers, but, who can guide and inspire students to dig deeper into issues they are interested in, or just discover and become interested in. A social science university should exactly be such an environment. Candidates from such universities would, indeed, be in a position to take jobs in society, be creative and innovative to improve and change the government and private sectors to everybodys benefit. In the report from the COSS conference, I referred to above, it is stated that the social and human sciences have a key role to play as a laboratory of ideas, in innovative policymaking and as intellectual and ethical watch, since the concepts, methodologies and analytical tools of these disciplines can help forge the link between thought and action, knowledge and policies. I thank late Dr Inayatullah posthumously for having organised the mentioned conference and for his numerous other contributions to developing the social sciences in Pakistan. The mantle has now been passed on to you and me. The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist currently based in Islamabad. Email: atlehetland@yahoo.com