EQBAL AHMAD (1933-1999)

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EQBAL AHMAD (1933-1999) Born in Bihar, India, Eqbal Ahmad migrated to Pakistan with his family soon after the country gained independence in 1947 An economics graduate from the Foreman Christian College, Lahore, he studied political science and MiddleEastern history at Princeton University where he later received his PhD After moving to Africa in 1960, he worked mainly in Algeria and joined the National Liberation Front as an associate of Frantz Fanon He then returned to the United States and taught at various institutions, including the University of Illinois at Chicago (1960-1963) and Cornell University (1965-1968) At the latter, he met with strong opposition as a staunch supporter of Palestinian rights during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War He was a fellow at the Adlai Stevenson Institute in Chicago from 1968-1972 and then senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, DC for a period of 10 years In 1982, he joined the faculty at Hampshire College and taught world politics and political science until his retirement in 1997

In his later years he tried his utmost to develop his multifaceted project-Khaldunia-as a center for higher learning in Pakistan The project ultimately failed as a result of political interference Eqbal was editor of the journal Race and Class, cofounder of the Pakistan Forum, contributing editor of Middle East Report and L’Economiste du Tiers Monde, and an editorial board member of Arab Studies Quarterly A prolific writer, he wrote for The Nation, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and various journals Termed a “secular sufi” by Noam Chomsky and a close associate of Edward Said, he remained a political and peace activist throughout his life, with a strong attraction toward liberation movements-be it Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq, the Indian sub-continent, or anywhere else in the world He was a regular columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s foremost English newspaper, where he concentrated on the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan, the Kashmir issue, relations with India, and domestic politics He was a vocal critic of the Pakistani administrations of the 1990s Eqbal Ahmad continued to write extensively until his death from heart failure in Islamabad F-16 AIRCRAFT On 25 March 2005, US

President George W Bush ended a decade and a half long dispute with Pakistan concerning the sale of F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan The aborted F-16 sale to Pakistan in 1990 had become a source of friction between Islamabad and Washington ever since President George HW Bush had decided that year that he could no longer certify that Pakistan was not developing nuclear weapons, and so under a 1985 law-the Pressler amendment-the deal was called off The administration of President Bill Clinton agreed in 1998 to reimburse Pakistan for much of the money it had already paid In a nine-minute conversation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, Bush announced the change in the US policy It signaled a final step toward tacit acceptance of Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons The sale initially involved 24 planes manufactured by Lockheed Martin

A US official said the sale “will not change the overall balance of power between India and Pakistan, but the jets are vital to Pakistan’s security as President Pervez Musharraf takes numerous risks prosecuting the war on terror” Singh expressed “great disappointment” at the US decision, but the United States sweetened the deal with India by allowing American companies to bid for the multibillion dollar tender India was preparing for the purchase of advanced multipurpose aircraft for its air force The decision to sell the F-16 planes was criticized by some influential analysts and lobbyists in Washington, as well as by several American newspapers including The New York Times and The Washington Post While the offer to resume sales of F-16s to Pakistan had considerable symbolic significance, since it signaled a change in US policy, the decision to allow India access to the manufacturers of advanced aircraft in America would have important long-term implications American defense companies will be allowed to sell India “multipurpose combat aircraft,” including the F-16s and F-18s

This was the first time that India has gained access to a major weapons platform from the United States, and the offer from Washington came with a hint that it will allow India to locally manufacture some of the planes

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