Eqbal Ahmed Papers
Eqbal Ahmad, scholar, teacher, writer, international political activist.
Eqbal Ahmad was born in the state of Bihar, India in 1932. When he was 4, his father was killed in a land dispute; in 1948, during the partition of India, he and his family (who were Muslims) moved to Lahore, Pakistan. He attended Foreman Christian College in Lahore, then came to Occidental College in California on a Rotary scholarship in the mid-1950s. He entered Princeton in 1958, where he obtained his doctorate in 1965. He taught at Cornell in the 1960s, was appointed a fellow at the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs, at the University of Chicago, and later joined the Washington Institute for Policy Studies. He was the first directory of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. He married Julie Diamond in 1969, and had one daughter, Dohra.
In 1971, he was one of the Harrisburg 7 indicted for plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger to protest the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. He was acquitted in 1972, along with all the other alleged co-conspirators. After teaching at various universities, in 1982 he became Professor of Politics and Middle East Studies at Hampshire College, where he taught until he retired in 1997. In his later years he pursued a project of creating an alternative liberal arts college, Khaldunia, for Pakistan, and also wrote a regular column for the Pakistani newpaper, Dawn. Eqbal Ahmad died in 1999, in Islamabad, Pakistan, of complications following surgery for cancer.
A prolific writer, Ahmad wrote extensively on the relationship between the West and the post-colonial states of Africa and Asia. His constant concern for the welfare of people as individuals led him to vehement opposition to war and violence, whether by nation states or by ideological, nationalist or fundamentalist movements. His power of critical analysis made him a valued counselor, as well as an unsparing critic, of leaders and intellectuals in the Middle East and Pakistan, as well as many other parts of the world.
Edward Said wrote of him, "His life was an epic and poetic one, full of wanderings, border crossings, and an almost instinctive attraction to liberation movements, movements of the oppressed and the persecuted, causes of people who were unfairly punished--whether they lived in the great metropolitan centres of Europe and America, or in the refugee camps, besieged cities, and bombed or disadvantaged villages of Bosnia, Chechnya, south Lebanon, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, and, of course, the Indian subcontinent." (AlAhram Weekly, May 9, 1999)