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Remembering Dr Eqbal Ahmad

May 10, 2011


ON May 11, 1999, Dr Eqbal Ahmad, a prolific writer, thinker and an institution by himself, departed from this world in Islamabad. Unfortunately, very little is known about him to the general public in Pakistan.

He was a man with encyclopedic knowledge and in the words of Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the UN, “Eqbal Ahmad was a shining example of what a true internationalist should be. Eqbal Ahmad was at home in the history of all the world’s great civilisations”.

Almost all intellectuals and scholars all over the globe have paid tribute to this great scholar, teacher and a visionary, but almost no research work has taken place on the writings of Eqbal Ahmad in Pakistan.

He was born in Bihar, India, in 1933, and migrated to Pakistan after independence. After graduation in economics from FC College, Lahore, he studied in California. He then studied political science and Middle East history at Princeton, US, and earned his doctorate.

A lot has been written on Dr Eqbal Ahmad in the western media, to name one is David Barsmain’s book ‘Confronting Empire’, which is an extraordinary work done on Eqbal Ahmad. Being in the English language, few fellow Pakistanis have read the book. It’s time it was translated into Urdu.

Eqbal Ahmad can be considered the Sir Syed Ahmad Khan of present day as he wanted to establish a university of high technical education in Pakistan. The greatest tribute to this great scholar will be to establish the Khaldun University, his dream.

I will request intellectuals, scholars of the world and friends and fans of Eqbal Ahmad to join hands in establishing Ibne Khaldun University. The government of Pakistan is requested to provide all possible help to those willing to take up the challenging job of establishing the university, and to confer the highest civil award upon Eqbal Ahmad.

David Barsmain said: “Eqbal Ahmad was a real combination of scholar and activist. He not only shared his knowledge with progressive movements for social change but he participated in them. He cared about people and he cared about justice”.