Friday December 08, 2023

Call to set up varsity after Ibn-e-Khaldun

By our correspondents
September 03, 2016


Speakers at a seminar held at Government College University (GCU) here on Friday have called for materialising the dream of late Eqbal Ahmed, a world prolific writer, journalist and political scientist, of establishing Khaldunia University as the state-of-the-art centre of liberal arts in Pakistan.

GCU Quality Enhancement Cell in collaboration with the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) had organised the seminar “Eqbal Ahmed: A citizen of the world” to pay tribute to the anti-war activist who had been a rare combination of academic excellence and intellectual skepticism, and globally admired and consulted by activists as well as policy-makers and academics.

The speakers said Ahmad's life experiences shaped his political views. He grew up amidst the turmoil of post-colonial India, worked alongside the Algerian National Liberation Front in their fight against the French occupation, and later became a prominent spokesperson for peace between Israel and Palestine.

PHEC Chairman Prof Dr Nizamuddin said Khaldunia remained Eqbal Ahmad’s living dream and the focus of his considerable energies throughout his life. He said the commission would take up this project with the government. He highlighted different perspectives of his life, including the striking moral character he maintained throughout his life.

Prof Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, eminent nuclear physicist and writer, reminded Muhammad Nawaz Sharif that he in his first tenure as Prime Minister had pledged to Eqbal a piece a land to build Khaldunia University, named after the 14th century Muslim historian and sociologist, Ibn-e-Khaldun, and patterned on Hampshire College. However, he said, that later Benazir Bhutto did not carry forward the project apparently because Eqbal had criticised polices of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto during his regime.

In his keynote address, Richard Anderson Falk, an eminent American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, USA said there was a need for universities which produce global citizens having empathy, respect and love for every nation of the world irrespective of their faith, cast, colour and creed. He also discussed in detail struggle of Ahmed, his political and academic views and interesting incidents from their longstanding friendship.  

The speakers said Ahmed was a fierce opponent of imperialism and advocated democratic transformations in post-colonial and third-world societies. Whether writing on the rise of militant Islam, the conflict in Kashmir, US involvement in Vietnam, or the cynical logic of cold war geopolitics, Ahmad offered incisive and passionate analyses of the major political events and movements of the second half of the 20th century. 

Iram Sohail from GCU-QEC, Dean Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Prof Dr Tahir Kamran and Dr Kamran from University of Texax, Austin also addressed the seminar which was attended by a large number of faculty members and postgraduate students from different universities.