Many students and faculty members at TIP are unaware of the towering personality of our first Chancellor, or how fortunate we were in having his guidance in our formative years.
Eqbal Ahmad was a scholar, a columnist, and a political activist. But above all, he was a teacher whose wisdom and insights influenced two generations of students. He had the great gift of listening to all those who came into contact with him. His aim was always to change and improve society, and to better the lives of the underprivileged. In a collection of his interviews published under the title â€˜Confronting Empireâ€™, he spoke forcefully of the need for nations to chart an independent path.
He practised what he preached as his deep involvement in the anti-imperialist struggle led him to fight the French in Algeria, and lead rallies against the war in Vietnam in the United States. He was a close friend of many Palestinian leaders, including Yasser Arafat. Edward Said, the famous Palestinian intellectual and activist, dedicated his last book to Eqbal Ahmad. He also opposed the evil dictatorship of General Zia through a series of stinging articles, and in rallies organised abroad.
After graduating from FC College in Lahore (with a third division, as he was fond of narrating), he went to the United States where he obtained a Ph D in political science from Princeton University. After many years of teaching in the U.S. (where he was once arrested for an alleged plot to kidnap Henry Kissinger, the powerful Secretary of State), he returned to Pakistan in the early Nineties with a dream: he tried but failed to establish a university named after the great Muslim intellectual Khaldunia. Although he had many supporters, he was unable to persuade successive governments in Islamabad to allot him land for the project. But despite his disappointments and the demands on his time, he was always available to help and support TIP in its formative years.
After his untimely death, Mr Abdul Majeed, Chairman ATC Group, and a distinguished member of TIP Academic Council, instituted an Eqbal Ahmad Award to honour his memory. It is intended for the TIP student who most closely embodies the values Eqbal Ahmad stood for. This gold medal carries a cash award of Rs 10,000. But more importantly, it is awarded to the student who shows a deep commitment to improve society, and a desire to help those less fortunate than himself or herself.
In order to have more transparent system of selecting the best graduate for this prestigious award, nominations are being called for from students, faculty and staff. Any student from the graduating classes of all disciplines can be nominated but a detailed case as to why your nomination deserves the award must be submitted in a sealed enveloped personally to the undersigned no later than 15th May 2006.
I look forward to your participation in this very important exercise which will raise the profile of TIP.