Distorted Histories

Secular Pakistan

Eqbal Ahmad Interviewed by David Barsamian

Eqbal Ahmad, activist scholar, was born in India probably in 1934. He’s not quite sure. In 1947, he left with his brothers for the newly created state of Pakistan. He came to the United States to study at Princeton in the 1950s, and then went to Algeria. Ahmad worked there with Frantz Fanon during the revolt against the French. He was active in the civil rights movement in the United States and the anti-Vietnam War movement. In 1971, he was prosecuted (along with the Berrigan brothers and several others) on the trumped-up charge of trying to kidnap Henry Kissinger. The case was dismissed.

Ahmad has long been active on the issue of Palestinian sovereignty. This work brought him into a close friendship with Edward Said, who dedicated Culture and Imperialism to him. It also brought him to the attention of Yasser Arafat, who met…

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