We have got the technology, and our scientists are examining this missile very carefully. It fell into the wrong hands. So don’t do that. Look for political solutions. Do not look for military solutions. They cause more problems than they solve.



by Eqbal Ahmad


Four of your missiles fell in Pakistan. One was slightly damaged. Two were totally damaged. One was totally intact. For ten years the American government has kept an embargo on Pakistan because Pakistan is trying, stupidly, to build nuclear weapons and missiles. So we have a technology embargo on my country. One of the missiles was intact. What do you think a Pakistani official told the Washington Post? He said it was a gift from Allah. We wanted U.S. technology.

Now we have got the technology, and our scientists are examining this missile very carefully. It fell into the wrong hands. So don’t do that. Look for political solutions. Do not look for military solutions. They cause more problems than they solve.

Please help reinforce, strengthen the framework of international law. There was a criminal court in Rome. Why didn’t they go to it first to get their warrant against Bin Laden, if they have some evidence? Get a warrant, then go after him. Internationally. Enforce the U.N. Enforce the International Court of Justice, this unilateralism makes us look very stupid and them relatively smaller.

Q & A

The question here is that I mentioned that I would go somewhat into the story of Bin Laden, the Saudi in Afghanistan and didn’t do so, could I go into some detail? The point about Bin Laden would be roughly the same as the point between Sheikh Abdul Rahman, who was accused and convicted of encouraging the blowing up of the World Trade Center in New York City. The New Yorker did a long story on him. It’s the same as that of Aimal Kansi, the Pakistani Baloch who was also convicted of the murder of two CIA agents. Let me see if I can be very short on this. Jihad, which has been translated a thousand times as “holy war,” is not quite just that. Jihad is an Arabic word that means, “to struggle.” It could be struggle by violence or struggle by non-violent means. There are two forms, the small jihad and the big jihad. The small jihad involves violence. The big jihad involves the struggles with self. Those are the concepts.

The reason I mention it is that in Islamic history, jihad as an international violent phenomenon had disappeared in the last four hundred years, for all practical purposes. It was revived suddenly with American help in the 1980s. When the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan, Zia ul-Haq, the military dictator of Pakistan, which borders on Afghanistan, saw an opportunity and launched a jihad there against godless communism.  The U.S. saw a God-sent opportunity to mobilize one billion Muslims against what Reagan called the Evil Empire. Money started pouring in. CIA agents starting going all over the Muslim world recruiting people to fight in the great jihad. Bin Laden was one of the early prize recruits. He was not only an Arab. He was also a Saudi. He was not only a Saudi. He was also a multimillionaire, willing to put his own money into the matter. Bin Laden went around recruiting people for the jihad against communism.

I first met him in 1986. He was recommended to me by an American official of whom I do not know whether he was or was not an agent. I was talking to him and said, ‘Who are the Arabs here who would be very interesting?’ By here I meant in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said, ‘You must meet Osama.’ I went to see Osama. There he was, rich, bringing in recruits from Algeria, from Sudan, from Egypt, just like Sheikh Abdul Rahman. This fellow was an ally. He remained an ally. He turns at a particular moment. In 1990 the U.S. goes into Saudi Arabia with forces. Saudi Arabia is the holy place of Muslims, Mecca and Medina. There had never been foreign troops there. In 1990, during the Gulf War, they went in, in the name of helping Saudi Arabia defeat Saddam Hussein. Osama Bin Laden remained quiet. Saddam was defeated, but the American troops stayed on in the land of the kaba (the sacred site of Islam in Mecca), foreign troops. He wrote letter after letter saying, Why are you here? Get out! You came to help but you have stayed on. Finally he started a jihad against the other occupiers. His mission is to get American troops out of Saudi Arabia. His earlier mission was to get Russian troops out of Afghanistan. See what I was saying earlier about covert operations?

A second point to be made about him is these are tribal people, people who are really tribal. Being a millionaire doesn’t matter. Their code of ethics is tribal. The tribal code of ethics consists of two words: loyalty and revenge. You are my friend. You keep your word. I am loyal to you. You break your word, I go on my path of revenge. For him, America has broken its word. The loyal friend has betrayed. The one to whom you swore blood loyalty has betrayed you. They’re going to go for you. They’re going to do a lot more.

These are the chickens of the Afghanistan war coming home to roost. This is why I said to stop covert operations. There is a price attached to those that the American people cannot calculate and Kissinger type of people do not know, don’t have the history to know.


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Eqbal Ahmad, Late Eqbal Ahmad was Professor Emeritus of International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He also served as  managing editor of the quarterly Race & Class. Eqbal’s articles & essays appeared in the Pakistani national dailies and international journals. He died in 1999.. He died in 1999.
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  1. The writer, late Eqbal Ahmed though brilliantly tried to establish that terrorism is of different types and it is a relative term, but being Muslim he deliberately seems to have neglected the root cause of global terrorism. Islam spread mainly with the help of sword in different parts of the world while the Christians used money, muscle and the mind to realize this end.
    The root cause of modern terrorism lies in the deliberate refusal of Muslims to recognise the right of Jews as the ancient residents of areas across the West Bank of Gaza. The use of oil as a weapon has further fueled the terror of technology on them. Their unethical stand on Kashmir issue has also indirectly catalyzing the trend.

    1. You are a paranoid mind. A mind who looks into every thing in the context of being Muslim, Hindu, Christian etc. Late Eqbal Ahmed had a liberal and humanist approach [towards socio-political ailments that afflict our modern societies in east as well as in west]. To label his thoughts as just Muslim thoughts is the height of bigotry. Thoughts and ideas have no religion except in the eyes of bigots who see things through their own colored glasses, so you dear Doctor AKT are no exception in this regard.
      And your statement that Islam spread in the world through use of sword is again another height of your ignorance. Had it been so, the whole of the subcontinent of Hindostan [as it was then called] would have been Muslim and there would be no Hindus, as it happened in the northern part of the continent of America when the original inhabitants of America, the Red Indians were brutally slaughtered by the white settlers, so much so that in today’s America you only see Red Indians in their homeland as a tiny, unnoticeable community. Had sword been the primary vehicle to apostatize the non Muslims of Hinostan, Dr. AKT the believers in Hinduism would have been an unnoticeable community just like the Red Indians of North America.
      And Mister Doctor AKT, it appears you did not read the article by late Eqbal Ahmed in proper focus because you were perhaps more eager to use your rabidly anti Muslim pen to fulminate against Muslims for the sake of being Muslims.
      Finally calling our stand on Kashmir as unethical is the third instance where you seem to be as much bigoted as any other Hindutva mind in India who thinks Muslims of the subcontinent should either reconvert to Hindu faith or be drowned in the Arabian Sea.

  2. Mr. Wasi, write some thing new. Your stand on the issue is a telltale of what’s happening in Pakistan today. Think about it before you think of disintegrating India .

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