I had a fantastic time giving two public lectures in Pakistan on this trip (I'm in Rawalpindi/Islamabad for another week before getting back to the US). I wasn't sure what kind of reaction I will get while talking about cosmology (and also briefly about evolution) - but the reaction has mostly been quite positive and with lot of interaction with the audience at the end. The reaction from the audience was quite different at two places. The first lecture was organized by the Physics Club at Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad (thanks Zahid) and the questions were heavily focused on cosmology, nature of time, multiverses, etc. The issue of the origin of life was brought up, but the discussion stayed within the confines of our scientific understanding of the topic. The level of questions was very good and surprising to me, evolution was not really brought up in Q&A - perhaps a reflection of audience predisposition towards physics.
The talk at Karachi was a totally different experience. First of all, the Karachi talk was part of Science ka Adda (Karachi's version of Cafe Scientifique) and was held at a coffee shop (The Second Floor) that also acts as a base for non-profit work (PeaceNiche), holds regular screening of documentaries (it showed God on the Brain recently), provides space for art exhibitions, and even hosts small concerts (check out glimpses of T2F). So indeed, I was very excited to give a public lecture there (Thanks Sabeen for organizing it).
The focus of questions here was more on science and religion conflict (or at least on the possibility of conflict). The point of my talk was that Big Bang, evolution, origin of life questions etc. are descriptions of physical phenomena irrespective of one's belief. The question of the ultimate origins (First Cause) is dependent on faith - whether one believes that physical laws have been put in place by God or by no one (also a faith statement). However, we should always seek natural causes when seeking an explanation for all physical events (methodological naturalism). Many of the questions were accurately focused on the boundary between known and unknown and how to approach science when we get to that point - and what to do when religion comes in conflict with known explanations for science. A few people raised strong objections to evolution (with the usual - that "it is only a theory"), but the over all discourse remained very civil and productive (as can be seen from the post Q&A discussions on the right - picture from T2F).
But the main point is that we can talk and discuss in public these sensitive topics in Pakistan (ok - at least at universities and coffee shops). Not everyone will agree with the conclusions - but a dialogue about these topics is crucial.