General Yahya Khan; The First Free and Fair Elections; The PPP and Pakistan’s Year of Crisis; Reconciliation; In Fairness to Yahya

Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan

یحییٰ خان

Richard Nixon Posing with Agha Yahya Khan

Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan (‎4 February 1917 – 10 August 1980), known as Yahya Khan was Pakistan’s  military leader, martial law administrator, and  President of Pakistan. He served as President from 1969 until 1971. His presidency witnessed the breakup of Pakistan,

He participated in WWII with the British Indian Army  in the Mediterranean theatre, and opted for Pakistan’s military after Britain partitioned India in 1947. He abetted in the covert infiltration in Indian Kashmir that led to the 1965 war with India.

After  being appointed to the army command, Yahya Khan took over the presidency,  and enforced martial law by suspending the Constitution in 1969. He held the first nationwide election in 1970 but delayed transferring power to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman;  this started the civil unrest in East-Pakistan.  He authorized the military to suppress the rebellion and at the same time tried to restore order within West-Pakistan.

The crisis deepened following reports of:

  • the Bhola disaster
  • widespread genocide by Pakistan military, and
  • persecution of Western Pakistanis by Mukti Bahini (rebel army)
  • This allowed India to consolidate its moral and political position.

Pakistan suffered a decisive defeat from India in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, with loss of geopolitical influence in the Muslim world. The secession of East Pakistan as Bangladesh broke up Pakistan.  Following these events, Yahya Khan handed power to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and resigned from the army. He was disgraced when the service honours were revoked, and he was put under house surveillance for the 1970s decade. After release of restrictions in 1977, he died in 1980 in Rawalpindi.

He is viewed negatively by Pakistan’s historians, and is considered the least successful of the country’s leaders.

 Early life

Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan was born in Chakwal, Punjab in British India on 4 February 1917. He and his family were Pashtuns (Pathans).

Few Pakistanis knew anything about Yahya Khan when he was vaulted into the presidency two years ago. The stocky, bushy–browed Pathan had been the army chief of staff since 1966… Editorial, Time, 2 August 1971

 Military career

Yahya Khan was commissioned from Indian Military Academy Dehra Dun on 15 July 1939. As an infantry officer in the 4th Battalion of the 10th Baluch Regiment, he saw action during World War II in North Africa with the 4th infantry division, and was captured by the Axis Forces in June 1942. He was interned in a prisoner of war camp in Italy but  escaped. He served in Iraq, Italy, and North Africa.

1965 war and Commander-in-chief

After World War II, he joined Pakistan Army in 1947, and was instrumental in preventing the Indian officers from shifting  books from the British Indian Army Staff College Library at Quetta. He was the only Muslim instructor at the time of partition of India. At age 34, he was promoted to Brigadier and appointed commander of the “105 Independent Brigade” that was deployed at the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in 1951-1952. He was described as a “hard drinking professional soldier” who liked both his women, and wine. Later as Deputy Chief of General Staff, he was selected to head the army’s planning board set up to modernize the army in 1954-57.

Yahya was Chief of General Staff from 1958 to 1962; he went on to command an infantry division from 1962 to 1965. He co-founded the Command and Staff College in Quetta, Balochistan. He played a pivotal role supporting President Ayub Khan’s campaign in 1965 presidential elections against Fatima Jinnah. In recognition for this, he was promoted to Major-General and made GOC of 7th Infantry Division. He commanded the division during the 1965 war with India. He was not instrumental in planning the military infiltration operation (Operation Gibraltar). Operation Grand Slam which followed failed miserably as there was a change of command and resultant delay on part of Yahya Khan as the new commander to push operations. This allowed the Indian Army to cross the intentional border and make for Lahore.

It is interesting that in response to a question by a student at the Staff College where he served as an instructor after the war, he replied that he had no orders to continue operations after relieving Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik of command.

Yahya Khan was promoted to Lieutenant-General and his promotion was approved by President Ayub Khan in 1966; he was appointed Deputy Army Commander in Chief and later Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army in March 1966. At promotion, he superseded two of his seniors: Lieutenant-General Altaf Qadir and Lieutenant-General Bakhtiar Rana.

He energetically started reorganizing the army in 1965; post 1965  saw major organizational and technical changes in the army. Till 1965 it was thought that divisions could function effectively while taking orders from the GHQ. This planning failed in the 1965 war and the need to have an intermediate corps headquarters between the GHQ and the combat divisions was recognized as an operational necessity. In the 1965 war, the army had only one corps headquarters (i.e. the 1st Corps Headquarters).

Soon after the war started,  the U.S. imposed an embargo on military aid to both India and Pakistan. This embargo did not affect the Indian Army but produced major changes in the Pakistan Army’s technical composition. US Secretary of State Dean Rusk well summed it up when he said, “Well if you are going to fight, go ahead and fight, but we’re not going to pay for it”.

Pakistan turned to China for military aid and the Chinese T-59 tank started replacing the US M-47/48 tank from 1966 as the army’s main battle tank (MBT).  The first batch of 80 T59 tanks,  a low-grade version of the Russian T-54/55 series were delivered to Pakistan in 1965-66.

The 1965 War had signaled that the army’s tank to infantry ratio was lopsided and more infantry was required. Three infantry divisions (9, 16 and 17 Divisions) largely equipped with Chinese equipment and referred to as “The China Divisions” were raised by the beginning of 1968. Two more corps headquarters i.e. 2nd Corps Headquarters (Jhelum-Ravi Corridor) and 4th Corps Headquarters (Ravi-Sutlej Corridor) were raised.

President of Pakistan

President Ayub Khan handed power on 25 March 1969 because of increasing public resentment against him. Yahya Khan imposed martial law. Yahya inherited a twenty year constitutional problem of inter-provincial ethnic rivalry between the Punjabi-Pashtun-Mohajir dominated West Pakistan province and the ethnic Bengali Muslim East Pakistan province. Yahya also inherited an 11 year old problem of transforming an essentially one man ruled country to a democratic country, which was the basis of the anti-Ayub movement of 1968-69. As an Army Chief, he had the capabilities, qualifications and potential but he inherited a complex problem and was forced to perform multiple roles of:

  • caretaker head of the country,
  • drafter of a provisional constitution,
  • resolving the One Unit question,
  • satisfying the frustrations and the sense of exploitation and discrimination successively created in the East Wing by a series of government policies since 1948.

All these were complex problems. The seeds of Pakistan Army’s defeat and humiliation in December 1971 lay in the fact that Yahya Khan blundered unwittingly into the thankless task of fixing problems of Pakistan’s political and administrative system which had been accumulating for 20 years and had their origins in the pre-1947 British policies towards the Bengali Muslims.

The American author Ziring observed that, “Yahya Khan has been widely portrayed as a ruthless uncompromising insensitive and grossly inept leader…While Yahya cannot escape responsibility for these tragic events, it is also on record that he did not act alone…All the major actors of the period were creatures of a historic legacy and a psycho-political milieu which did not lend itself to accommodation and compromise, to bargaining and a reasonable settlement. Nurtured on conspiracy theories, they were all conditioned to act in a manner that neglected agreeable solutions and promoted violent judgements”.

The tragedy of the whole affair was the fact that all actions that Yahya took, although correct in principle, were too late, and served only to further intensify the political polarization between the East and West wings. He dissolved the one unit restoring the pre-1955 provinces of West Pakistan, and promised one man one vote, fair elections on an adult franchise basis, This was a basic human right which had been denied to the Pakistani people since the 1946 pre-independence elections by political inefficiency, double play and intrigue by civilian governments, from 1947 to 1958 and by Ayub’s dictatorship from 1958 to 1969.

However dissolution of One Unit did not lead to results that  might have happened had this been done earlier. Yahya made an attempt to accommodate the East Pakistanis by abolishing the parity principle; hoping that the greater share in the assembly would redress their wounded ethnic regional pride and ensure the integrity of the country. This this not satisfy the Bengalis;  it intensified their separatism, since they felt that West Pakistan had politically suppressed them since 1958 and anti-west wing sentiment increased in East Pakistan.

During 1968, political pressure exerted by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had weakened President Ayub Khan, who had earlier sacked him when he disagreed with the President’s decision to implement on Tashkent Agreement. To ease the situation, President Ayub tried reaching out to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Awami League (AL), but was unsuccessful. In poor health, President Ayub abrogated his own Constitution and  resigned from the presidency.

On 24 March 1969, President Ayub via a directive invited General Yahya Khan to deal with the situation as it was “the beyond the capacity of (civil) government to deal with the… complex situation.”

On 26 March 1969, General Yahya appeared on national television and announced martial law all over the country. The 1962 Constitution was abrogated, the parliament dissolved and civilian officials dismissed. In his first nationwide address, Yahya maintained: “I will not tolerate disorder. Let everyone remain at his post.”The immediate effect was a military government and featured military officials:

Yahya Khan Administration


Ministers
              

Portraits Ministries and departments Inter–Services
 

General

Yahya Khan

President and Chief Martial Law Administrator; Information and Broadcasting; Law and Justice; Foreign and Defence Pakistan Army
Lieutenant-General

Abdul Hamid Khan

Deputy CMLA; Interior and Kashmir Affairs Pakistan Army
Vice-Admiral

Syed Mohammad Ahsan

arkhan Deputy CMLA; Finance and Planning Commission; Statistics, Commerce, and Industry Pakistan Navy

Air-Marshal

Nur Khan

50px-noor_khan Deputy CMLA; Communications and Health; Labour and Science and Technology

Pakistan Air Force

National Security Council and LFO

President Yahya was well aware of this explosive situation and decided to bring changes all over the country. His earlier initiatives directed towards establishing the National Security Council (NSC) with Major-General Ghulam Omar as the first adviser. The NSC was formed to analyze and prepare assessments of issues relating to political and national security.

In 1969, President Yahya promulgated the Legal Framework Order No. 1970 which disestablished the One Unit programme and West Pakistan was formed. The decree had no effect on East Pakistan. Following this, President Yahya announced nationwide general elections in 1970, and appointed Judge Abdus Sattar as Chief Election Commissioner of the Election Commission of Pakistan. Changes were carried out by President Yahya to reverse the country back towards parliamentary democracy.

1970 general elections

By 28 July 1969, President Yahya had set a framework for elections that were to be held in December 1970. Finally, the general elections were held all over the country. In East Pakistan, the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won almost all the mandate, but had no seat in any of four provinces of West Pakistan. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won the mandate in the four provinces of West Pakistan, but none in East-Pakistan. The Pakistan Muslim League (PML) led by Nurul Amin was the only party to have representation all over the country, though it failed to gain the mandate to run the government. The Awami League had 160 seats, all won from the East-Pakistan; the PPP had secured 81; the conservative PML had 10 seats in the National Assembly. The general elections’ results truly reflected the ugly political reality:

the division of the Pakistani electorate along regional lines and political polarization of the country between the two states, East Pakistan and Pakistan.

In political terms, Pakistan as a nation stood divided.  Bilateral talks between PPP and the Awami League of Mujibur Rahman produced no results and they were unable to come to an agreement of transfer of power to East-Pakistan’s representatives on the basis of the Six-Point programme. In West Pakistan, the people felt that the six-point agenda was a step towards secession. In media reports, it has since emerged that Mujib met Indian diplomats in London in 1969 according to his daughter and agreed to secede from Pakistan.

 Genocide in East-Pakistan

The political deadlock remained between the Awami League, PPP, and the military government after the general elections of 1970. During this time, Yahya began coordinating several meetings with his military strategists over this issue in East Pakistan.

On 25 March 1971, President Yahya initiated Operation Searchlight to restore the writ of the government. Partially successful but the situation in East-Pakistan worsened. The gulf between the two wings was too wide to be bridged. Agitation was transformed into an insurgency as Bengali elements of the Pakistan armed forces and police mutinied, and along with the people launched hit and run operations. Operation Searchlight ordered by Yahya was a planned military pacification carried out by the Pakistan Armed Forces to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in East Pakistan in March 1971;  this was a sequel to Operation Blitz which had been launched in November 1970.

The original plan envisioned taking control of the major cities on 26 March 1971, and then eliminating all opposition, political or military, within one month. The prolonged Bengali resistance was not anticipated by Pakistani planners. The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major town in Bengali hands in mid May.

The total number of people killed in East Pakistan is not known with any degree of accuracy. Bangladesh authorities claim that 3 million people were killed, while the Hamoodur Rahman Commission, an official Pakistan Government investigation, put the figure at 26,000 civilian casualties. According to Sarmila Bose, between 50,000 and 100,000 combatants and civilians were killed on both sides during the war. A 2008 British Medical Journal study by Ziad Obermeyer, Christopher J. L. Murray, and Emmanuela Gakidou estimated that up to 269,000 civilians died as a result of the conflict; the authors note that this is far higher than a previous estimate of 58,000 from Uppsala University and the Peace Research Institute, Oslo. According to Serajur Rahman, the official Bangladesh estimate of “3 lakhs” (300,000) was wrongly translated into English as 3 million.

Yahya Khan had Sheikh Mujibur Rahman arrested on charges of sedition. He appointed Brigadier Rahimuddin Khan (later General) to preside over a special tribunal dealing with case. He was awarded the death sentence, and President Yahya put the verdict into abeyance. Yahya’s crackdown, however, led to a Bangladesh Liberation War within East Pakistan. This drew India  into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The result was the establishment of Bangladesh as an independent republic. Yahya Khan apologized for his mistakes and voluntarily stepped down.

US role

The United States had been a major sponsor of President Yahya’s military government, as noted in a reference written by Gary Bass in the “The Blood Telegram”: “President Nixon liked very few people, but he liked General Yahya Khan.” Personal initiatives of President Yahya had helped in establishing  a communication channel between the United States and China, which would be used to set up Nixon’s trip in 1972.

Since 1960, Pakistan was perceived in the United States as a bulwark against Communism in the Cold War. The United States cautiously supported Pakistan during 1971, although Congress kept in place an arms embargo. India with a heavily socialist economy entered in a formal alliance with the Soviet Union in August 1971.

Nixon relayed several written and oral messages to President Yahya, strongly urging him to restrain Pakistan forces. His objective was to prevent a war and safeguard Pakistan’s interests, though he feared that an Indian invasion of Pakistan would lead to Indian domination of the subcontinent and strengthen the the Soviet Union. Similarly, President Yahya feared that an independent Bangladesh could lead to the disintegration of West Pakistan. Indian military participation and support to Bengali guerrillas led to war between India and Pakistan.

In November 1971, Richard Nixon met Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He did not believe that she would not invade Pakistan. Kissinger pointed out that Nixon made specific proposals to Prime Minister Gandhi on a solution for the crisis, some of which she heard for the first time, including a mutual withdrawal of troops from East Pakistan borders.

Nixon also expressed a wish to fix a time limit for Yahya about political accommodation for East Pakistan. Nixon asserted that India could count on US endeavors to ease the crisis within a short time.  Both Kissinger and Gandhi’s aide Jayakar maintained that she did not respond to these proposals. Kissinger noted that she “listened to what was in fact one of Nixon’s better presentations with aloof indifference” but “took up none of the points.” Jayakar pointed out that Gandhi listened to Nixon “without a single comment, creating an impregnable space so that no real contact was possible.” She also refrained from assuring that India would follow Pakistan’s suit if it withdrew from India’s borders. As a result, this agenda was “dropped altogether.

On 3 December, Yahya preemptively attacked the Indian Air Force bases and Gandhi retaliated, pushing into East Pakistan. Nixon issued a statement blaming Pakistan for starting the conflict and blaming India for escalating it because he favored a cease-fire. The United States was secretly encouraging the shipment of military equipment from Iran, Turkey, and Jordan to Pakistan, reimbursing those countries despite Congressional objections. The US used the threat of an aid cut-off to force Pakistan to back down, while its continued military aid to Islamabad. The US  prevented India from launching incursions deeper into West Pakistan. Pakistan forces in East Pakistan surrendered on 16 December 1971 leading to the creation of the independent state of Bangladesh.

Fall from power

When the news of surrender of East Pakistan reached through the national television, an overwhelming public anger rose over Pakistan’s defeat by Bangladeshi rebels and the Indian Army, followed by the breakup of Pakistan The anger boiled into street demonstrations throughout Pakistan. Rumours of an impending coup d’état by junior military officers against President Yahya swept the country. Yahya became the highest-ranking casualty of the war. On 20 December, 1971,  to forestall further unrest, he handed over the presidency and government to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto— the leader of Pakistan People’s Party.

Within hours of Yahya stepping down, President Bhutto reversed judge advocate general’s (JAG’s) verdict against Mujibur Rehman and released him to go to London. President Bhutto also signed orders for Yahya’s house confinement, the man who imprisoned Mujib in the first place.

Death

Yahya remained under house arrest until 1979 when he was released from the custody by martial law administrator General Fazle Haq. He remained away from public events and died on 10 August 1980 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan

  • 3rd President of Pakistan: 25 March 1969 – 20 December 1971
  • Commander in Chief of Pakistan Army: 18 June 1966 – 20 December 1971

Personal details

  • Born: Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan
  • 4 February 1917, Chakwal, Punjab, British Indian Empire (now in Punjab, Pakistan)
  • Died: 10 August 1980 (aged 63)
  • Rawalpindi, Pakistan
  • Resting place: Westridge

Citizenship

  • British Indian Empire
  • Pakistan

Nationality    

  • British Subject (1917–1947)
  • Pakistan (1947–1980)
  • Political party: None
  • Domestic partner: Akleem Akhtar

Alma mater

  • Punjab University
  • Indian Military Academy
  • Command and General Staff College

Religion: Islam

Civilian awards         

  • Nishane-e-Pakistan (withdrawn)
  • Hilal-e-Pakistan (withdrawn)
  • Order of Pahlavi (Iran).gif Neshan-e-Pahlavi

Military service

Service/branch

  • British Indian Army
  • Pakistan Army
  • Years of service: 1939–1971
  • Rank    OF-9 Pakistan Army.svgUS-O10 insignia.svg General
  • Unit: 4/10th Baluch Regiment (S/No. PA–98)

Commands    

  • Deputy Chief of Army Staff
  • GOC 7th Division (Peshawar)
  • 15th Division, Sialkot
  • 14th Division, Dacca
  • 105th Independent Brigade

Battles/Wars

  • World War II-Mediterranean theatre
  • Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
  • Battle of Chawinda
  • Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
  • Bangladesh Liberation War

Military awards

  • Hilal-e-Jurat (withdrawn)

By courtesy Wikipedia.org (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15585926).

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The First Free and Fair Elections

 

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october 13, 2016 by smhusain1, posted in historyind-pakistanpakistan

The tales of the refugees were harrowing, their plight truly pitiful. Important visitors came to see them. One was the American senator Edward Kennedy, his handsome face and shirt sleeves translucent amidst the sea of human misery. George Harrison sang in Bengali, ‘O bhagaban khodatallah, moder chhaira kotha gela’ (O Lord God, where have you gone abandoning us). A Bengali singer sang ‘ Shono ekti Mujborer theke lakkha Mujiborer kanthaswarer dhwani pratidhwani akashe batase othe roni—Bangladesh, amar Bangladesh!’ (Listen, from the voice of one Mujib a lakh Mujib’s voices speak and echo around the wind and sky—Bangladesh, my Bangladesh!).

Finally full-fledged war broke out between India and Pakistan. There had been a war between India and Pakistan just a few years before, when I was very small. At that time the people of East Pakistan were fighting against India. “The war was short-lived, however. India won, Bangladesh became free. There was euphoria all round. The Indian army was led by Sam Manekshaw, who exuded a dashing ‘can do’. But the man of the moment was the commander of the Eastern command, General Jagjit Singh Aurora, a smartly turbaned Sikh, framed for history as he sat with a large man in a beret called General A.A.K. Niazi, who signed the surrender documents on behalf of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujib, a prisoner in West Pakistan for nine months, returned to Dhaka to a hero’s welcome.

Twenty years later I was recording a radio interview for the BBC in Bush House in London, where I was one of the presenters of a South Asia news programme. My interviewee, in Delhi, was General Jagjit Singh Aurora. As we tried to get the sound right, I talked to General Aurora. I told him that I was from Calcutta and remembered him as a war- hero. ‘Thank you, my dear,’ said a kindly voice from the other end of a crackly line. For the most part, however, General Aurora was agitated. His interview was about human rights violations against Sikhs in Indian Punjab and draconian laws like TADA*.
* Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

I was sympathetic to the issue and the interview went smoothly. Later I heard that it had not gone as well with an Indian language program and General Aurora had gone upset. Here was a war- hero of 1971 pitted against the very state he had served, on the grounds of violation of the rights of his people. I thought I might write something of the irony.

Another decade passed before the spark became a full- fledged research project on 1971. In the meantime General Aurora’s public status as a war- hero did not correspond to the view of some of his fellow officers. One wrote that ‘his command did not take him seriously as a fighter because he did not display the flamboyance of a soldiers’ general’. Another sneered that he ‘was not regarded in the Army as a commander of any distinction, and that ‘he had failed to win the trust and confidence of most field commanders’. A third, not content with a book’s worth of disparaging remarks, even sniped at his wife. General Aurora did not write his memoirs. By the time I met him face to face, it was no longer possible to discuss the details of 1971 with him.

If this was the fate of the winning commander, I wondered what had become of the one who had lost. The result was a revelation. General A.A.K. Niazi turned out to have a distinguished past and a tragic fate. Honoured by the British with the Military Cross for his performance on the Burma front during the Second World War, he was a general who had literally fought his way up from the ranks of a humble background. In his book and his discussions with me, he condemned the way in which General Tikka Khan had conducted the military action in Dhaka on 25 March 1971, but also criticised General Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, the previous Governor, for copping out at the eleventh hour of the crisis. The Bengal insurgency was wiped out within a few weeks of Niazi’s arrival in East Pakistan in April 1971. But in the continuing absence of any political settlement, his men ended up fighting a weary war against Indian assisted guerillas for months and then a full scale invasion by India from all directions, helped by the population,  largely hostile to the Pakistan army. By all accounts the Pakistan army performed astonishingly well against India in East Pakistan under almost impossible odds. Nevertheless, suffering the humiliation of becoming the face of Pakistan ‘surrender’, Niazi found himself vilified by his own people for losing to India.

Much of the literature on 1971 is preoccupied with the conflict between India and Pakistan, with the Cold War as backdrop, marginalising the people of the land where it was fought. Indian accounts are predictably triumphal with regard to victory over Pakistan, with the memoirs of a few officers peppered with self- promotion and derogation of others. Most of the key players did not publish memoirs. Pakistani discussions on 1971 are full of bitter recriminations, mostly with regard to losing to India, with deafening silence from the majority of those who served in East Pakistan. The Bangladeshi refrain, by contrast, plays volubly and melodramatically on the theme of Pakistani ‘villains’ and Bengali ‘victims’, often with scant regard for factual accuracy or analytical sophistication. The material from all parties to the conflict is relentlessly partisan, with the Bangladeshi ones infused with a deep sense of grievance that their suffering has not been given due acknowledgement in the world. Yet, in spite of the passage of three decades, Bangladeshis collectively failed to produce well-researched, documented and thoughtful histories of 1971 which might influence world opinion with any degree of credibility.

I started the study with enormous sympathy for the Bangladeshis as ‘victims’ in a conflict in which they had justice on their side- the other side, after all, was a military regime that had refused to let a legitimately elected party assume the powers of government and tried to suppress the Bengali rebellion by military force. I agreed with the complaint that the traumatic birth of Bangladesh had been quickly marginalised in the discourse on world politics, but was less sure of the reasons. Perhaps, it was because Bangladesh was a poor ‘brown’ country, as many Bengals believe, with no role to play in the remainder of the Cold War. However, Bangladeshis were clearly responsible for their own marginalization, having failed to produce well-documented and analytical histories of the 1971 conflict in thirty years of independence. I expected my work to start the process of filling that void, by careful chronicling and thoughtful analyses of a few events on the ground that would provide insights on the conflict as a whole.

By the end of the study, I still had enormous sympathy for those who had truly suffered in the 1971 conflict, but who they were had changed substantially along with the story- line. The Bengalis splintered into many fragments- those who wanted an independent Bangladesh, those who supported a united Pakistan, those who desired autonomy but not secession, those who actively fought for whichever side they supported, and those who like Dr. Zhivago wanted to ‘just live’ but got caught in the upheaval nevertheless. There were combatants and non- combatants, victims of violence and its perpetrators. The West Pakistanis did not present a united front either, politically or militarily, and the armed forces ranged widely in the manner in which they carried out martial law duties or counter- insurgency operations in East Pakistan.

In the terrible violence of fratricidal war the victims were from every ethnic and religious group and from both sides of the political divide, and so were the perpetrators, as is normal. Humanity was just as normally distributed. Both sides had legitimate political arguments and their idealistic followers, along with those who indulged in opportunism, expediency and inhumanity. Many Bengalis- supposed to be fighting for freedom and dignity- committed appalling atrocities; many Pakistani Army officers, carrying out a military action against a political rebellion, turned out to be fine men doing their best to fight an unconventional war within the conventions of war. Moreover, the war turned out not to have been a battle between East and West Pakistan, nor between democracy and authoritarianism. It defies all such easy dichotomies, particularly those aspiring to be approximations of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. If some of this seems but natural in conflicts of this nature, it is yet to touch the discourse on the 1971 war. Many things taken to be established facts in the dominant narrative with which I grew up were demonstrated to be either false or seriously distorted; equally, the study revealed events and aspects that were entirely missing from the discourse so far.

A longstanding theme of the 1971 conflict, confirmed by the study in unexpected ways, is the state of denial in Pakistan: a refusal to confront what really happened in East Pakistan. However, the study revealed a greater state of denial in Bangladesh and to some extent in India with regard to the true nature of the conflict. In many ways the subsequent political formations in Bangladesh have been fighting out the battles of 1971 ever since, each constructing its own version of history. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this trend is the tendency on the part of pro-liberation Bangladeshi to deny, minimise or justify the brutalities committed by Bengali nationalists against non-Bengalis and non- nationalists during 1971. The culture of violence fomented by 1971 explains much of what happened in Bangladesh subsequently and the cultivated mythologies of all sides aim to bequeath the legacies of hatred to successive generations.

By the end of the study I had a far better understanding as to why the fairy- tale ending of 1971 for Bangladesh went so horribly wrong. As Sheikh Mujib arrived in Dhaka on 10 January 1972 via London and Delhi to a collective euphoria, Peter Hazelhurst reported in The Times on public resentment towards the Indians, the’ liberators‘ greeted with flowers only a few days before, disillusionment with the new government, and ‘a xenophobia so deep that only those who speak East Bengali with a pure dialect are considered sons of the soil’. Within months of the creation of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujib and his party,  the Awami League, who had fought the war in the name of democracy, turned the country into a personal autocracy formalised later as a one party state. In August 975 Bengali army officers who had supported the liberation movement assassinated Mujib and massacred his entire family except for two daughters who were away at the time. Several former ‘freedom fighters’ and Mujib’s cabinet colleagues were imprisoned and then murdered in jail. Bengali army officers who had fought for Bangladesh’s liberation then fought each other in coups and counter coups until Zia- ur Rahman prevailed.  Zia was assassinated in a coup in 1981 and Bangladesh remained under military rule until the 1990s. A new era of democratic politics thereafter manifested itself as an implacable rivalry between the daughter of one slain leader and the widow of another. Violence as the answer to political difference remains the dominant political currency.

Meanwhile, the remaining part of Pakistan also returned to lengthy periods of military rule and is still fighting armed rebellion in its other provinces. India intervened with military force in a neighbouring country again in 1975, annexing the kingdom of Sikkim, and Indira Gandhi–‘deliverer’ of freedom and democracy in Bangladesh-tried to impose personal dictatorship in India. Both wings of the ‘Muslim nation’ broken by the 1971 war- Pakistan and Bangladesh- remain dogged by concerns that they are ‘failed’ or ‘failing’ states and are perceived to be involved on both sides of the ‘global war on terrorism’.

By courtesy: Dead Reckoning by Sarmila Bose, Columbia University Press, New York 2011


The PPP and Pakistan’s Year of Crisis

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The elections of 1970 opened up the possibility of a major re-alignment of power in Pakistan, both downward to new social groups and outward to regionalist parties. In giving unexpected majorities to the Awami League in East Pakistan and the Pakistan People’s Party in the West, the elections rocked the elite institutions and power groups in control of the Centre. Instead of finding themselves in a position neatly to manipulate a plethora of competing minority parties, they found themselves faced by two parties, both of which could claim to speak for mass constituencies demanding democratic institutions and economic reforms. In East Pakistan, of course, a substantial degree of autonomy was seen as crucial to the introduction of necessary reforms; and it was this question of the ‘quantum of autonomy’ for East Pakistan that came to dominate the three months of negotiations after the elections. Nineteen seventy-one became Pakistan’s year of deepest crisis. The elections were barely over when what was hoped would be a period of negotiations leading to a new constitution turned into one of bitter and intense confrontation in which the future of Pakistan’s survival as a united state came to hang in the balance. This was the year that saw the failure of the Yahya-Mujib-Bhutto negotiations, the de facto Awami League government of East Pakistan (night of 25-26 March), the proclamation of an independent Bangladesh, growing foreign involvement in the crisis, the India-Pakistan War (20 November to 18 December) the fall of Dhaka (16 December), the dismemberment of Pakistan and the replacement of the Yahya Regime in West Pakistan by a PPP government (20 December). It was a year of extra-ordinary complexity and controversy, of monumental miscalculations by all the major parties and of cataclysmic human tragedy. Much has been written about the circumstances surrounding the emergence of Bangladesh, and more can be expected. Here, we want to avoid too deep an entanglement in the crisis, though at least an overview of it is unavoidable.

For Bhutto and the PPP, the elections were a major victory. Under normal parliamentary conventions, the PPP could expect to control both the Sindh and Punjab Assemblies and lead the opposition in the National Assembly, where it held 82 to 85 of 300 seats-about half of the Awami League’s majority of 162. But Bhutto was not content to sit in the opposition. He insisted that the PPP’s holding of the majority of West Pakistan NA seats gave his party the right not only to speak for all of West Pakistan, but also to have a share of power at the Centre. He also insisted that after the elections only three major power centres existed in Pakistan: the Yahya Regime, representing the military, the Awami League, representing East Pakistan, and the PPP, representing West Pakistan. Undoubtedly, Bhutto, who always claimed to understand ‘the facts of power,’ realized the PPP was very much the junior partner in this triad of power centres, but he also understood that, at the very least, a political and constitutional settlement would have to be arrived at between two of the power centres. His statements and maneuvers during the post-election period become much more explicable if it is understood that he was attempting to position the PPP to be one of them. For Bhutto, the politician and party leader, to gain political power was sufficient to greatly augment it, but to lose the game would jeopardize his hold over the PPP and open the way for its more opportunistic elements to be bought off by the winners.

It is important, during this period, to keep in mind the political situation in West Pakistan. There the elites industrial, landed and bureaucratic- had begun to pull together to face the PPP threat to their interests. Shocked at the defeat they had not expected, they reacted strongly to prove that while an election may be a measure of opinion, it is not finally a measure of power and influence. This process had begun even before the holding of the Provincial Assembly elections (17 December), but it continued with growing force during the first three months of 1971. The elite-counter movement was most successful in the countryside, where, aided by the bureaucracy and the police, it produced a spate of tenant ejections. Out of power during the long months while the East Pakistan situation was being decided, the PPP had to rely on its party organizations to counter the attacks on its rural support base l ( property less kammis and tenants and small landholder-cum- tenant farmers). But, while there were exceptions, the highly touted kissan communities, implanted in the countryside by urban based PPP left wing, proved unable to stem the quiet ‘counterrevolution’ in the countryside. In the cities, where PPP organizations were stronger, the rapid rise of prices after the elections and a wave of worker retrenchments, in the large and medium industrial sectors, created more palpable tensions. Buoyed by the PPP election victory, the party left wing and its worker’s committees demanded the immediate transfer of power to a Kisan-Mazdur-Raj (‘Peasant-Worker-Rule’). Increasing incidents of factory takeovers, strikes (hartals), blockades (gheraos) occurred in all of the major industrial cities, but it was in Lyallpur that the most serious outbreak occurred. There on 25 March 1971, after the arrest of Mukhtar Rana, PPP MNA and Lyallpur party Chairman, worker-led mobs went on a city-wide rampage of arson and looting. People’s guards fought pitched battles with the police, destroying the Jhang Bazaar Police station. By nightfall the city was put under a curfew and the army called in to maintain civil order. This kind of incendiary outbreak was not entirely unwelcome to the elites, for it strengthened their own efforts to convince the military junta of the dangers of PPP radicalism. Bhutto, who was aware of the elite lobby’s attempt to turn the military regime into the savior of their interests, found it necessary to bring the PPP left wing under greater control. This as we shall note shortly, had a distinct impact on party organization and the balance of its internal factions.

But, to return to the larger national crisis, Bhutto was prepared to negotiate with either of the two other power centres, though in both cases there were risks as well as advantages. In the flush of the election victory, his first effort was to seek a settlement with Mujib on the basis of a democratic alternative to military rule. But Bhutto’s approach to Mujib was a public one, made from a position that emphasized the PPP’s strengths rather than its weaknesses. The PPP Chairman thus portrayed himself as the leader of West Pakistan and insisted that the constitution could neither be framed nor a government formed at the Centre without the cooperation of the PPP. Speaking before the Punjab Assembly Chambers on 20 December 1970, Bhutto declared that the PPP was not prepared to occupy the opposition benches in the National Assembly. The party could not wait for another five years to hold power, redeem its pledges to the people and solve the country’s problems. He took the position that a ‘majority alone doesn’t count in national politics,’ that the PPP had won the Punjab and Sindh- the two provinces where the ‘real power’ of the centre lay, -and that therefore no government at the Centre could be run without the cooperation of his party. The next day he told a news conference that the ‘quantum of autonomy’ ( for East Pakistan) could not be determined by the force of a majority in the House, as in that case the National Assembly would not be able to give a Constitution acceptable to both wings of the country. Pointing to the extreme regional bifurcation of the country along party lines, Bhutto called for a ‘grand coalition’ between the PPP and Awami League at the Centre so that both ‘majority’ parties could fulfill their promises to the people in their respective wings. During this early post-election period, the PPP Chairman emphasized his party’s program of social and economic reform, denounced the industrial and business sectors for an ‘artificial inflation of prices,’ and promised ‘oppressive feudal lords’ that the day would soon come when they would have to answer to the People’s Party. These themes were fully consistent with his post-election strategy of pressing for the transfer of power from the military junta to a PPP-Awami League coalition at the Centre. Behind Bhutto’s demand for a share of power and a broader constitutional settlement was his expressed desire to safeguard the interests not only of West Pakistan, but of Pakistan as a whole. Hence some concession by the Awami League on the Six Points was crucial to the success of a ‘grand coalition’ strategy. Writing later in his own explanation of the events of this period, Bhutto noted the dilemma for the PPP was:

whether to surrender to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Six Point demand which would have led to constitutional secession within a few months, or to resist the demand, which would endanger the return to democracy and civilian rule, and carry with it the possibility of a violent parting of the ways. It was therefore essential to make every endeavor to find a political compromise on Six Points so that democracy could be restored and Pakistan saved from disintegration.

Perhaps because the stridency of its tone masked its real purpose, Bhutto’s initial push for a ‘grand coalition’ was greeted with outrage and derision in East Pakistan. More importantly, it was rejected by Mujib, who pointed out that under normal parliamentary convention the PPP would lead the opposition in the National Assembly and that Bhutto would have to be content with that and the PPP’s control of the Sindh and Punjab Assemblies. But, while spurning Bhutto, Mujib made a mistake of also alienating the other ‘power centre’ the Yahya Regime. This he accomplished by adopting an uncompromising position on the Six Points, despite his earlier promises to Yahya that these would be modified after the elections. Needless to say, President Yahya felt personally betrayed by Mujib. Not only had his position within his own power group been undermined by his failure to moderate Mujib’s demands, but his hope to retain the Presidency of Pakistan under the new constitution was now unlikely. He had begun his post-election trip to Dhaka observing that he was going for consultations with the man who would be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan, but returned to West Pakistan a disillusioned and embittered man.

On his return, his first stop after Karachi was Larkarna, where on 17 January he met with Bhutto. It was here, Professor G.W. Chaudhury and others believe, that a ‘new and sinister alliance . . . between the military junta and Bhutto  ….’ was formed. The nature and extent of this ‘alliance’ is difficult to judge. Certainly, both Bhutto and the military hawks- a group that did not include Yahya-believed that the Six Points demand was more than a plan that would emasculate the Central Government and cut the economic ground from under the military, but was in reality a ‘concealed formula for secession.’ There is ample evidence that during the next month (17 January to 17 February) Bhutto developed closer understandings and relationships with the hard line element of the GHQ. Undoubtedly these contacts were directed at gaining a power sharing role for Bhutto, or, at the very least, giving him a veto over the constitutional formula. It is interesting that in this period the main emphasis in Bhutto’s public statements shifted from socialist to nationalist themes. Also, on the day before he met Yahya at Larkarna, he moved to cool the class confrontationist atmosphere inside West Pakistan by forcing an end to the tense hunger strike at the Progressive Papers Limited in Lahore, in which the left wing of the Punjab PPP was deeply involved. These were signs that Bhutto was acting to make himself more palatable to the junta by toning down his socialist rhetoric, proving that he could control the radicals in his party, and shifting the attention of Punjabis away from local issues and toward the East Pakistan-West Pakistan confrontation.

By mid-February, the political situation began to mob rapidly. At his 12 February meeting with Yahya, Bhutto evidently received assurances that the President was now backing him. On 13 February at a reception in Peshawar, he is reported to have said:

Bhutto is once again in the saddle. It had been decided by the powers that are. Mujib is out. I’m to be Prime Minister.

But, on 14 February Yahya, who had little love for Bhutto, announced that the National Assembly would meet on 3 March thus disregarding Bhutto’s demand that the sessions be postponed until a PPP-Awami League agreement on a constitutional formula had been achieved.

Needless to say, Mujib had been consistently demanding an immediate summoning of the NA. Bhutto’s response to the Yahya move was to declare a PPP boycott of the National Assembly sessions. This declaration was made at Peshawar on 15 February and ratified by a meeting of the PPP Central Committee, provincial party leaders, MNAs and MPAs, at Karachi on 22 February. Despite efforts by Bhutto to bring leaders like Daultana, Wali Khan and Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan behind the PPP, only one other party in West Pakistan supported the boycott. This was the QML, the party with the closest ties to the GHQ. There were also reports that some of the hawks in the GHQ lobbied in favour of the boycott with the MNAs of other West Pakistan parties. The hawks were also exerting great pressure on Yahya. On 17 February Yahya’s civilian cabinet was dissolved and a meeting of the top echelons of the military–Military Governors, Chief Martial Law Administrators, Chief of Staff, service chiefs and the Presidential circle- was held in Rawalpindi. It was at this meeting where the decision to confront the Awami League was taken. Those who protested-Admiral Ahsan, E.P. Governor, and Lt. Gen. Sahibzada Yakub Khan, E.P. Chief Martial Law Administrator- were shortly removed from their positions.

The machinery of confrontation was put into effect and the build-up of troops in East Pakistan begun.

On 28 February unable to persuade any other party but the QML to support his boycott an facing an incipient rebellion from a group of PPP MNAs who wanted to attend the NA, Bhutto raised the ante by threatening a ‘people’s movement’ from Khyber to Karachi unless (1) the National Assembly session were postponed or (2) the 120 day deadline for completing the constitution were removed. He also threatened to ‘break the legs’ of anyone who went to Dhaka from West Pakistan. The next day Yahya obliged- some would say ‘rescued’- the PPP Chairman by announcing the indefinite postponement of the NA session due to the internal political stalemate and external (I.e., Indian) interference. He Awami also gave Bhutto a veto over the constitution making process by agreeing that ‘both East and West Pakistan have an adequate sense of participation in the process of constitution making.’ According to Professor Choudhury:

Yahya’s announcement on 1 March . . . could not have been more provocative or tragic. When I asked him about it on 5 March he looked vacant and helpless; I was convinced he had only been a signatory to it. Bhutto and Peerzada were reported to have drafted the statement. Yahya, unlike on previous occasions, did not broadcast it; it was only read out over the radio.

The reaction in East Pakistan was galvanic. Blamed for the deadlock by the President’s 1 March statement, the Awami League was now certain that the PPP and junta had combined to deny the majority party its right to rule and make the new constitution. Calls were heard for an independent Bangladesh and the Awami League moved to assert de facto control over the civil and economic life of the province. After bloody clashes in the streets between mobs and the army, the troops were withdrawn to their cantonments (5 March), where they came under a social and economic boycott. At the same time the Awami league organized its own irregular forces. In parts of East Pakistan, the killings of West Pakistanis and Biharis and the settling of old scores between Bengalis began.

The unprecedentedly massive reaction in East Pakistan–Bhutto called it an ‘overreaction’-put something of the initiative back into Yahya’s hands. On 14 March Bhutto, now in danger of being pushed to the periphery of events, made the extraordinary demand that power be transferred to the PPP in West Pakistan and the Awami League in East Pakistan, after which the two parties should be left alone to settle the constitutional problems between themselves. He also re-emphasized his party’s socialist program. On the same date, Yahya and Mujib began their final dialogue in Dhaka, a city under Awami League control. On 19 March they reached a tentative agreement on the holding of the National Assembly. It would be divided abd initio into two committees, one comprising all West Pakistan MNAs, the other of all those from East Pakistan, each of which would formulate the special provisions for its own area. The NA would then meet as a body to frame constitution. In the meantime martial law would be lifted and cabinet governments formed at the Centre and in the provinces by the relevant majority or coalition. These proposals were placed in a Draft Proclamation for the President’s signature prepared by the Awami League team in the form of a final offer on 24 March. A perusal of this document shows that Yahya, as he admitted in his broadcast on 26 March, made a number of important concessions on the Six Points. But Yahya made his agreement contingent on that of the other political leaders, principally Bhutto, and the latter was called to Dhaka, where he arrived on 21 March with a PPP delegation. Bhutto and his delegation found the Yahya-Mujib agreement impossible to accept, as did the military hard liners in the GHQ, the QML politicians and now those in the CML. The PPP rejection was made known on 22 March, but it was assumed the talks would continue. This they did on 23 March, ‘Pakistan Day,’ the day on which Pakistan flags and pictures of Jinnah were burned throughout East Pakistan an replaced by the flag of Bangladesh. On 24 and 25 March in an atmosphere of explosive tensions, contacts and talks continued. But by the time the die was cast and the army was gathering to move, the preparatory signal having been given by Yahya on 24 March. Indeed, many have argued that the last round of talks was merely a charade, carried on to give the army time to complete its build- up. Claiming later to have acted to pre-empt an imminent armed uprising by Awami League irregulars, the police, the East Pakistan Rifles and the East Bengal Regiment, the army began its ‘crackdown’ about midnight on 25 March. The final, most horrendous miscalculations was that of the military hawks. Believing that they could ‘fix up’ the situation in 72 hours, the generals struck with savagery at the classes and social groups that were the backbone of the Awami League. But it would be more than a month before the army regained a tenuous ‘daylight’ control over the East Pakistan countryside. By then the army’s action had precipitated a growing international crisis and a man-made human disaster, the like of which had not been seen in the post war era. For the Awami League, there was no turning back. Even as the army moved but before his own arrest, Mujibur Rahman recorded a Declaration of Independence of Bangladesh. A formal proclamation was made on 10 April 1971 by the ‘government of Bangladesh’ (later the Government-in -Exile under Tajuddin Ahmad) from ‘Mujeeb Nagar’ on the East Bengal-West Bengal border.

The army action in East Pakistan did not end the pressure for a transfer of power in West Pakistan. Yahya may have contributed to these expectations when he promised in his speech of 26 March:

In the end let me assure you that my main aim remains the same, namely transfer of power to the elected representatives of the people. As soon as the situation permits it, I will take fresh steps towards the achievement of this objective.

In the meantime, however, all political activities were banned throughout the country and the Awami League was completely banned as a political party. Despite Yahya’s assurances, the army action and the banning of the Awami League threw the politics of the country into uncertainty and abruptly halted the movement toward ‘popular rule’ under way since the fall of Ayub.

Perhaps it was this uncertainty about the direction the country was taking that accounted for Bhutto’s sombre mood on his return from Dhaka. Nevertheless, Bhutto’s post-25 March public statements reveal an expectation, possibly based on his understandings with hard line elements in the GHQ that the Regime would shortly transfer power to the PPP in West Pakistan. The PPP Chairman supported the army crackdown in East Pakistan saying that it had acted only hours before a planned Declaration of Independence, and asked his party men to ‘strengthen Yahya’s hands’ by keeping an eye on ‘anti Pakistan elements’ in West Pakistan. He defended his pre-25 March demand for a share in power and constitution making by saying that he did not trust the intentions of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party vis a vis the country’s integrity.

Bhutto’s sense of optimism proved to be false. He met Yahya on 28 April and was told that no move towards transfer of power could be made until the political situation in East Pakistan was ‘normalized.’ it was evident that he junta had little need for the PPP for the time being. Mujib had warned the PPP Chairman not to trust the army, pointing out that ‘if they destroyed him first, they will also destroy me.’ Bhutto cannot have been unaware of an element of truth in this statement, though any move against the PPP would be political and not military, for the army was West Pakistan. Some officers, using the Jama’at-i-Islami as their spokesman, already were attempting to blame the PPP for the failure in East Pakistan and demanding that in no case should the PPP be given a share in power.

The PPP Chairman now found himself in a difficult position. Without the assurance of immediate political power, his party would come under centrifugal strains. Yet, in acting to maintain its unity by re- emphasizing its ‘revolutionary’ nature, he had to keep from too directly threatening the junta. He refused to ‘rock the boat’ by undertaking a ‘people’s’ movement as some in the party wanted, and instead started a two-month long tour of Punjab and Sindh ‘to consult his party’. This enabled him to deal with party organizational matters, explain the events in East Pakistan, re- emphasize his image as the ‘people’s choice,’ and gradually build up pressure for a transfer of power to the PPP so that the ‘people’s representatives’ could solve the country’s problems. Bhutto’s demands became more insistent as the scope of the army’s action in East Pakistan became apparent and the international situation turned against Pakistan. He urged the placing of ‘political responsibility in political leaders’ and said he was in ‘a terribly shocked state of mind and a tremendous state of agony ‘on seeing ‘my country kicked around.’

In mid- July, the junta decided to negotiate a limited transfer of power with the political parties. Bhutto’s talks with Yahya on 16 July were ‘satisfactory’ and the PPP leader continued to point out that with the Awami League banned; the PPP was the majority party in the National Assembly. Bhutto had the backing of the hard liners in the GHQ, but others in the high command and the upper bureaucracy were hostile to the appointment of Bhutto as Prime Minister. The period between 16 July and 7 December when a civilian cabinet was formed, was one of frenetic manoeuvring both inside and outside the junta. The Yahya group attempted to obstruct Bhutto by producing a draft constitution that was even more restrictive than that of 1962. It also acted to destroy Bhutto’s ‘majority.’ This was accomplished by negotiating with the Awami League MNAs still in East Pakistan, most of who were willing to attend the NA, and by unseating those who had joined the Bangladesh Government-in-Exile in Calcutta. The latter, who numbered 79, were replaced in thoroughly rigged elections. The PPP was allowed’ to win 4 of the 79 NA seats in the by- elections, enabling it to present itself as a truly ‘national’ party.

Nevertheless, there was still strong elite resistance to the appointment of Bhutto as Prime Minister, a resistance which is visible in the character of Bhutto’s speeches and statements during this period. Indeed, to have appointed a man so deeply disliked in East Pakistan would have been provocative at a time when efforts at reconciliation with various groups in East Pakistan were being made. In the end, Nur uL Amin, a venerable East Pakistani politician who had lost in 1970, but won in the 1971 by-elections, and who had put together a loose coalition of parties and MNAs called the United Coalition Party, was made Prime Minister on 7 December. Bhutto, who was regarded as the real power in the cabinet, took up the posts of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

By the time this government was named, India and Pakistan were engaged in full scale hostilities all along their common borders in both the East and West. This was a war that involved the interests of major powers, most particularly those of the USSR and the People’s Republic of China, and was quickly taken to the United Nations Security Council by the United States. Bhutto spent most of the thirteen days the Amin-Bhutto cabinet was in existence at the UN Security Council, where outraged and helpless, he watched the Soviet Union stall a ceasefire resolution until the Indian Army had won its victory in East Pakistan. Then, as Dhaka was falling, Bhutto made his dramatic and tearful exit from the Security Council. After consultations with Chinese representatives in New York and a visit to the White House, he headed for London and then flew on to Rawalpindi.. There, a stunned nation, heretofore kept ignorant about the real happenings in East Pakistan, awaited him as the only viable political alternative. The political power of the army lay buried, for the moment, in the ruins of defeat and dismemberment. In the last ten days of the Yahya Regime, various initiatives to keep Bhutto out of power failed. Backed by the younger officers, Lt. Gen. Gul Hasan and Air Marshal Rahim Khan held Yahya a virtual prisoner in the President’s House and kept the way open for a transfer of power to the PPP, now, in reality, the majority party in Pakistan. At about noon on 20 December Yahya resigned the Presidency and appointed Bhutto to the two positions of President and Chief Martial Law Administrator.

By courtesy: The Pakistan People’s Party by Phillip E. Jones. Oxford University Press Oxford, New York 2003

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Reconciliation

december 17, 2014 by smhusain1, posted in historyind-pakistanpakistan

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Benazir Bhutto

Against the background of the escalating demonstration of people’s power, General Ayub did what generals do best: he conducted a coup d’état against his own parliament and government by declaring martial law for the second time. But the anger of the people did not die down. It increased. Ayub Khan refused to lift the martial law and turn over the power under the provisions of his hand-drawn Constitution. Instead, on March 25, 1968, he stepped down, handing power to his second in command in the military, General Yahya Khan. The national and provincial assemblies were dissolved, the Constitution was abrogated, and political activities were banned. The artificially constructed Ayub “decade of development” collapsed into ruins, and Pakistan now had a second martial law administrator.

The martial law continued until November 1969, when General Yahya announced that he would hold direct elections the following October. Conceding to the opposition’s demand that the parliamentary representation be determined by the size of the population, Yahya did away with representational parity between East and West Pakistan in the national assembly. Given the population distribution, this meant a quantum leap in representation to East Pakistan. In March 1970, Yahya issued the Legal Framework Order (LFO). Under the terms of the LFO, the new assembly would be both a constituent assembly and a parliament.

Although Sheikh Mujib, the leader of the majority party, had the sole right to form the government (even though he had no representation from the western wing in Pakistan), he did not have the right to impose a constitution on all the people and federating units of Pakistan. He did not have one member representing the remaining four federating units and the people elected on his ticket. General Yahya ordered that the constitution must be completed within 120 days or the assembly would be dismissed. It would have 120 days in which to draw up a constitution. Many feared that the term limit was imposed to set the new Parliament up for failure. If the new parliament failed to write a constitution within 120 days, the dictator had an excuse to say “democracy has failed” and go back to dictatorship. If the Constitution were bulldozed by some of the parties, the dictator would reject it on the grounds that it was “against the unity and integrity of Pakistan.”

General Yahya planned to script to scare the Pakistani Army and the West into acquiescing to his continued leadership. The LFO established a 313 member National Assembly with an outright majority of seats going to the Bengalis in the East. Free elections for the new National Assembly and five new provincial assemblies concluded in December 1970. With Mr. Bhashani’s party boycotting the elections, it was a clean sweep for Sheikh Mujib and the Awami league in East Pakistan. The Awami League won 160 of the 162 seats allocated to East Pakistan in the National Assembly. Mujib’s win had a lot to do with pent-up East Pakistani grievances against West Pakistan, whose elite had exploited its resources and insulted its people.This first set of true multiparty democratic elections was a big step forward for the development of Pakistan democracy. The jubilation was, sadly short-lived. The Awami League’s six point constitutional proposal frightened the daylights out of the Pakistan security establishment, just as Yahya had planned. It threatened West Pakistan with disintegration. The newly created state of Pakistan was confronted with an ugly reality striking at the core of its security, stability, and unity. Mujib insisted that since he had the majority in the National Assembly he would reject the views the federating units of Pakistan and impose his unilateral constitution on the country. This was contrary to the spirit of constitution making. A constitution is drawn up as an agreement setting the terms under which federating units voluntarily agree to live together. The PPP argued that a constitution could not ignore representatives from the rest of the country, where the Awami league had been totally rejected, failing to win even a single seat.

On January 3, 1971, Mujib once again rejected the right of other federating units to have a say in the framing of the constitution. He said he would form a constitution based on his six points:
1. The constitution should construct a federal state with supremacy of parliamentary legislature (in other words, Bengali domination of West Pakistan in the formulation of all laws and resources to pay West Pakistan back for its domination of East Pakistan)
2. The national legislature should deal only with foreign affairs and defense. All other rights should states’ rights.
3. Two currencies should be introduced, one for East Pakistan and one for West Pakistan
4. The federal government should have no taxing power. The power should be reserved for the provincial governments (in other words, there was no money to maintain an army or conduct either a foreign or defense policy).
5. The two wings should have separate accounts for foreign exchange.
6. East Pakistan should be allowed to maintain its own separate militia force (interpreted to mean that East Pakistan should have its own army).

Separate armies, separate currencies, separate central bank accounts, and no federal income to administer a federal government: Mujib’s six points were akin to signing the dismissal orders for the entire civil service and military command. The state of Pakistan would be constitutionally dismantled through the Awami League’s six points, letting the cat free among the pigeons. Neither the military nor the West nor the people of West Pakistan could countenance the breakup of a country for which so many had sacrificed their lives and suffered hardships just twenty-three years earlier.

Yahya’s script was playing out perfectly. “Pakistan in danger” was a cry he could exploit to scuttle the whole process. He could declare that “the country was not ready for democracy.” Meanwhile, he had to go through the motions. So in mid-January, he travelled to Dacca to see Mujib to work out an agreement. On Jan 17, he travelled to Larkana, the ancestral home of my family, to meet with my father. My father asked Yahya to either delay the holding of the Constituent Assembly or lift the 120-day limit for drawing up a constitution to enable legislators to arrive at a consensus. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto continued to work for a constitution that would reflect the wishes of all five federating units of Pakistan. But Yahya was adamant. He would neither lift the 120-day ban for arriving at a constitution nor postpone the session to provide more time to thrash out a consensus. However, he said he was ready to consider if Mujib agreed.

My father travelled to Dacca on Jan 27, hoping to persuade Mujib, but the meeting bore no fruits. Mujib insisted that he would show no flexibility on the six points, or on the 120 –day limit to pass the constitution. At that point, Yahya announced that the National Assembly would convene on March 3. My father represented the federating units in West Pakistan. For them Mujib’s constitutional prescription was a recipe for the disintegration of Pakistan. As leader of West Pakistan my father concluded he had two bad choices. He could go to Dacca, attend the Constituent Assembly session, and acquiesce to an imposed six-point constitution, thus legitimizing it. Or he could boycott the session to visibly demonstrate the PPP’s opposition to a unilateral constitution imposed on the nation by Sheikh Mujib. He declared that he and his supporters would not attend the constituent session of the National Assembly. He would not be a party to the disintegration of all Pakistan through the dismantling of the federal state structure. He wanted consensus on the future constitution worked out before the Assembly’s meeting, while conceding that Sheikh Mujib had every right to form a government on his own once the Constituent Assembly session was over. There was little point in showing up for a session of the National Assembly, where the only point on the agenda would be to endorse Mujib’s six point constitution. Still Mujib remained adamant. He was ready to go it alone. He played into Yahya’s hands, surrounded by advisers, some of whom had been infiltrated by security agencies.

On March 1, General Yahya postponed the convening of the National Assembly session. Meanwhile, Sheikh Mujib had formed a militia that started dismantling the state from within. His Mukti Bahini militants took on police duties and provoked the army. It seemed a matter of time before Sheikh would announce a unilateral declaration of independence. Separately Yahya Khan and my father attempted to negotiate a realistic compromise with Mujib, but the Awami league wanted all or nothing. My father was in Dacca the night General Yahya Khan ordered a military crackdown*. General Yahya then suspended the formation of the national assembly, and Mujib and the Awami league responded with a general strike in East Pakistan. Responding to this military crackdown, a Bengali officer by the name of Major Ziaur Rahman declared independence for East Pakistan. India taking advantage of the situation and always fearing a strong united Pakistan allowed the leaders of the Awami league into India to form a government in exile. Relations between India and Pakistan, always bad, deteriorated as millions of Bengali refugees poured across the border into India. In early December, Indian troops attacked Pakistan. As the brutal military crackdown began to crush the insurgents, Bengali women were raped and their male children slaughtered. Violence was met with counter violence in a horrifying sequence of unfolding events. A million refugees fled from their homes across the border to India. In mid-April, a Bangladesh government in exile was formed in Calcutta, India, indicating a role the Indian government would play in the conflict.

*on March 25, General Yahya ordered a military crackdown in a bid to forcibly keep East Pakistan part of Pakistan. As the crackdown began, students at Dacca University, in the capital reacted. The army fired back, killing students and enraging Bengalis even further. The uprising was intense. The people, the police, and the paramilitary forces had all risen up against what they called “the Punjabi Army.” Even as the army tried to quell the uprising, units of the army revolted against GHQ in faraway Rawalpindi. Major Ziaur Rahman (who would go on to become President of Bangladesh and his wife prime minister) was the first to mutiny. With the military defections adding to defections that had taken place in the police and paramilitary forces, the armed resistance for the formation of the independent state of Bangladesh was established.”

Excerpts: Reconciliation by Benazir Bhutto, Harper Collins New York 2008

Photo by courtesy of Wikipedia.org

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In Fairness to Yahya

 december 20, 2014, posted in history, ind-pakistan, pakistan

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When Ayub Khan wrote to Yahya that he was stepping aside and expressed his belief that he (Yahya) had the capacity, patriotism, dedication and imagination to deal with the formidable problems facing the country and called upon him to discharge his legal and constitutional responsibility to defend the country, not only against external aggression but also to save it from internal disorder and chaos, I am inclined to believe he meant what he said. Ayub was aware of Yahya’s weaknesses and knew he was an extrovert and bon vivant appreciative of the good things of life. What Ayub failed to realize was that he was giving Yahya an impossible task for which he was ill-suited both by experience and temperament. Ayub was leaving behind a mess of his own creation. How could Yahya succeed where Ayub had failed? Yahya’s only advantage over Ayub was that his hands were clean and his record untainted. Ayub knew that Yahya would be pitted against two most unscrupulous politicians and that he was no match for them. After eleven years of absolute rule, he was leaving behind a country on the verge of total collapse, and deserted his post saying, ‘I could not sign away the future of the country.’ He conveniently left that to Yahya, knowing that the task was beyond him.

Yahya started very well. The disturbances in the country came to an abrupt end; law and order was restored without any difficulty; the country rallied round him and gave him full support. His initial moves were very popular. He dissolved One Unit, which had been imposed on the people of West Pakistan, and earned the gratitude of at least three minority provinces. He sacked most corrupt officers. He held the first free, fair, and impartial election Pakistan ever had. He allowed the government controlled media, both radio and television, to cover the election without any interference from the government. Within twenty-four hours of his accession to power on 25 March 1969, Yahya pledged to transfer power to the elected representatives of the people, elected on the basis of direct adult franchise, and announced that it would be for the representatives of the people to give the country a workable Constitution. This was, in a sense, a revolutionary development in the politics of Pakistan.

Yahya did not ban political parties when he imposed martial law on 25th March, 1969. In one of his speeches in 1970, he said, ‘This caused both surprise and relief. The first action of any martial law regime is to ban political parties, for the existence of martial law regime side by side with political parties is a most unusual phenomenon.’ There were guidelines for political activity contained in Martial Law Regulations (MLR 60), but these were honoured more in the breach than in the observance.

‘The Government decided to give facilities to the leaders of various parties to project their political manifestos and policies through radio and television. This was the first time that politicians were freely and impartially given the chance to use the government-controlled radio and television for their political activities.’

Political broadcasts began on 28 October and continued until 19 November 1970. The series began with Mujib who was given the chance to speak first, and ended with the leader of the Sindh United Front, G.M. Syed. Bhashani alone spoke in the two national languages, in Bengali from Dhaka, and in Urdu from West Pakistan. His speech was a masterpiece and it met with very good reception in both Wings, especially West Pakistan. Bhashani spoke not as an East Pakistani or a West Pakistani, but as a true Pakistani. Mujib emphasized regionalism. Bhutto’s main emphasis was on Islamic socialism, confrontation with India, etc.

I met all the political leaders and discussed their scripts with them. I met Mujib at his residence in Dhan Mandi in Dhaka. This was my very first meeting with him. He gave the impression of being an angry young man in a hurry. His script contained references to Bangladesh. I suggested their deletion, because it clashed with the guidelines and Legal Framework Order. He did not agree. I suggested its substitution by East Bengal. This too was unacceptable to him. In the end, he was allowed by Rawalpindi to have his own way. He threatened not to say anything on the radio and television if the government insisted on the deletion of the word Bangladesh. He was otherwise very courteous and very hospitable. He entertained me to tea and mishti. When the tension eased, I suggested that, being a national leader, he should come to West Pakistan, tour the four provinces and meet the people who, I was sure, would welcome him. His reply stunned me. He said, ‘West Pakistan is too far away and it costs a lot of money to go there.’ Mujib seemed uninterested in visiting West Pakistan. Whatever the reasons, Mujib had lost faith in a united Pakistan. Next on my list was the ‘Red Maulana’. I met Bhashani in his village. When I got there, he was lying on a cot. He sat up, shook hands, and began the conversation in a very weak, inaudible voice. I thought he was seriously ill and did not expect the conversation to last too long. Very soon, he warmed up and gave me a brilliant expose of the political situation in chaste Urdu, punctuated with verses from Iqbal and the Quran, for one whole hour.

My Minister, Major General (retd) Sher Ali, was a great champion of the Islam Pasand (Islam-loving) parties (as they were then known). He was most upset at the turn of events when I met him in his office. He told me, almost prophetically, that the election results would lead to the breakup of the country and must therefore be scrapped. His prophecy unfortunately turned out to be correct, but how could the result of an election universally recognized as free, fair, and impartial be scrapped with a stroke of a pen?

Yahya had redeemed the pledge to hold free and fair elections on the basis of direct adult franchise. The Awami League led by Sheikh Mujib obtained 160 out of the 162 seats allotted to East Pakistan. In West Pakistan, it could not secure a single seat. The Pakistan People’s Party headed by Mr. Bhutto won 82 out of the 138 seats for West Pakistan. It had not nominated a single candidate in East Pakistan.

Yahya did not have the political vision or capacity to handle the complex situation arising out of the election results and the emergence of two unscrupulous politicians, who had neither political honesty nor any broad vision and statesmanship. The result was the total collapse of his plan to transfer power to the elected representatives of the people, eventually culminating in a bloody civil war and the secession of East Pakistan. I never had any doubt that Yahya genuinely wanted to transfer power to the elected representatives of the people within the framework of a single, undivided Pakistan. In fairness to Yahya, it must be said that he had inherited from Ayub a discontented, disillusioned, and highly agitated Bengali population, and an explosive political situation, not of his making.

Neither Ayub nor Yahya had the statesmanship or political skill required to resolve the East Pakistan crisis in accordance with the aspirations of the people of East Pakistan. Commenting on President Ayub, a ‘Muslim de Gaulle,’ The Economist wrote that the President wanted essentially what his brother soldier sought for France. But faced with a similar situation in Algeria, de Gaulle ‘realizing that whatever aspirations of grandeur he might hold for France, it would come to nothing as long as the nation remained mired and locked in the draining and divisive Algerian crisis,’ in a moment of inspiration, took off for Algeria to ‘grasp the Algerian nettle’ and to speak to the people himself. By the end of the afternoon a crowd of 20,000, almost entirely European, had massed in the open square, the Forum, in front of the Government General Building to greet de Gaulle with a mighty roar when at last he stepped out on a balcony, arms outstretched and fist clenched in the defiant gesture of exhortation that was his permanent hallmark. But he responded to the cheers with one of the most famous and most elusive utterances of his life. ‘Je vous ai compris’—I have understood you.

On his return to Paris, de Gaulle held a referendum on the future of Algeria in the teeth of opposition from hawkish generals, the so called ultras. In June 1962, 99.7 per cent of Algerians voted for independence and Algeria emerged as an independent state on 3 July 1962. Without settling the Algerian crisis, all else for de Gaulle would have been failure. ‘Of all the services de Gaulle rendered to France, extraction from Algeria was the most difficult and decisive. It was his masterpiece in the skilled exercise of political power, and if he had failed, history would have been far different and his stature diminished.’

Both Ayub, the ‘Muslim de Gaulle,’ and Yahya, his fun-loving successor who used to describe himself as a part-time President, failed to comprehend the rising tide of Bengali nationalism and failed to meet the challenge in a realistic and flexible manner, with disastrous consequences for Jinnah’s Pakistan. This was their greatest failure, and this, in my view, was also their greatest disservice to Pakistan.

Yahya was a true hedonist and believed that the art of life was to crowd in as much enjoyment as possible into each moment. His detractors and enemies charged that he was drunk day and night and that, in his scheme of things, all good things had reference to his belly. This is an unfair assessment of the man. There are innumerable instances of Yahya’s unsurpassable kindness. He was devoted to his family, generous and gentle to his servants, loyal to his friends, and he lived without pretence. Yahya derived a lot of happiness from friendship and human relationships. His creed was a likeably honest creed. His friendships were proverbial for their permanence.”

By courtesy: Pakistan—A Dream Gone Sour by Roedad Khan, Oxford University Press Karachi 1998.

 

 

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General Mirza Aslam Beg

General Mirza Aslam Beg (left, in blue beret and glasses) visiting a Pakistan Army Unit in 1990s.

 Mirza Aslam Beg, born 2 August 1931, is a retired four-star rank general of the Pakistan Army, who served as its Chief of Army Staff from 1988 until his retirement in 1991. His appointment as chief of army staff came when his predecessor, President General Zia-ul-Haq, died in an air crash on 17 August 1988.

Beg’s tenure witnessed Benazir Bhutto being elected Prime Minister in November 1988, and the restoration of democracy and civilian control of the military in the country. Controversial accusations were leveled against him of financing the Islamic Democracy Alliance (IDA), the conservative and right-wing opposition alliance against left-wing PPP, and of rigging in the subsequent general elections in 1990. As a result of the general elections, Nawaz Sharif was elected Prime Minister in 1990, but fell out with Beg when the latter recommended support for Iraq during the Gulf War. Beg was denied an extension by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan soon after in 1991, and replaced by General Asif Nawaz Janjua as chief of army staff. Apart from his military career, Beg briefly tenured as professor of security studies at the National Defence University (NDU) and regularly writes columns in The Nation.

Beg’s post-retirement has been characterized by controversies: first he was accused of playing an internal role in the airplane crash that killed President Zia, and, second, he was summoned to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2012 for his alleged role in the Mehran scandal, for bribing opposition politicians with millions of rupees prior to general elections in 1990.

Early life in India and education: Mirza Aslam Beg was born in the small village, Muslimpatti, in Azamgarh district, Uttar Pradesh of British India, to a Urdu-speaking Turk Mughal Barlas family on 2 August 1931. His father, Mirza Murtaza Beg, was an advocate and practicing lawyer, whose name was well known and respected name in the law circles of the Allahabad High Court. The Beg family traced a long ancestral history and roots to the Mughal Royals who were once the rulers of India from the early 15th century to the early 18th century. He was educated at Azamgarh where he graduated from a local high school, and enrolled at the Shibli National College for undergraduate studies in 1945. Subsequently, he earned the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Liberal Arts from Shibli National College in 1949. During his college years, Mirza played field hockey and was a  member of the college hockey team who were mainly Muslims. According to his memoirs, Beg sought revenge on a Hindu politician of the Congress Party after the politician had beaten up a member of his hockey team. Egged on by a mob of students, Beg used his hockey stick to beat him at a public meeting. The incident came after his graduation from college in 1949, and Beg’s family decided to move to Pakistan in 1949 after India’s partition.

Career in the military: The Beg family sailed for Karachi from Mumbai via a Pakistan Navy ship in 1949. His elder brother was already a commissioned officer in the Pakistan Army and encouraged young Beg to follow his path and seek a career in the army. Beg recalled in his memoirs to his Indian interviewer and called Pakistan as “my dream country”. In 1950, Beg was accepted at the Pakistan Military Academy and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in war studies in 1952 from the 6th PMA Long Course

In 1952, he was commissioned as second lieutenant in the Baloch Regiment and initially assisted in the command of an infantry platoon. From 1952-1958, he progressed in the military ranks being promoted to army lieutenant in 1956; and army captain in 1958. He received recommendation from his field commanding officer and was selected to join the Special Forces; in 1958, he passed the physical and psychological tests for this. Beg departed to the United States to complete Special Forces training with the US Army Special Forces in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In 1960, he returned to Pakistan and was inducted in the Special Service Group (SSG) and  being promoted to the rank of Major. His new assignment was in the field, and he commanded a commando company of the SSG. His first combat experience took place in 1960 in Western Pakistan, when with his commando company, he  helped remove the Nawab of Dir in Chitral in the northern part of North-West Frontier Province. He served in 1965 war with India and commanded a SSG counter-initiatives company against the Indian Army.

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Ehsan Sehgal and General (Retd.) Mirza Aslam Beg in Baghdad, Iraq in 1994.

Academia and professorship: After the 1965 war, Mirza was promoted as Lieutenant-Colonel in 1967 and entered in the National Defence University (NDU) to continue his higher education. Among the course mates was Lieutenant-Colonel Zahid Ali Akbar who would later direct the Program-706 in the 1970s.

He earned Master of Science in War Studies from NDU and published his master’s thesis, titled, “A journey of pain and fear” which provides a critical analysis of state sponsored terrorism and its effects on geo-military position(s) of  country (s). In 1971, he was recalled and commanded a SSG regiment during the war with India. After the war, he left the SSG after being promoted to the rank of Brigadier, and moved onto to accept the war studies professorship at NDU. From 1975–78 Brigadier Mirza Aslam Beg tenured as the professor of war studies and remained Chief Instructor of Armed Forces War College at the National Defence University until January 1978.

About the 1971 war, Baig maintained that Pakistan Armed Forces “learned a valuable strategic lesson” and quoted that the government also learned that “there is no point in going to war unless you are absolutely certain you have the capability to win”. From 1994–99, Baig continued his teaching at NDU and published his two books on national security, nuclear weapons development, defence diplomacy and international relations.

Senior command appointments: In 1978, Baig left the university after being promoted to Major-General in the army. He became the GOC of the 14th Army Division, stationed at the Okara Military District of Punjab Province in Pakistan. On March 1979, Chief of Army Staff, General Zia-ul-Haq, directed the II Strike Corps’ “to ascertain the likely reaction of the Pakistan Armed Forces officers if Bhutto was hanged”, in accordance to the Supreme Court’s verdict. During this meeting Baig objected to Bhutto’s hanging, and stated to his senior commanders that:

The hanging of Bhutto would be an unwise act, as it could cause very serious “political aberrations” that will be difficult to correct.”

Beg was relieved of his command as a result and posted as Adjutant-General at the GHQ in Rawalpindi, where he served until 1980. He was later elevated as the Chief of General Staff (CGS) of the Pakistan Army until 1985. As CGS, Beg was in charge of planning the counter-offensive to the 1984 Indian invasion of Siachen marking the beginning of the ongoing Siachen conflict. After serving at the GHQ, he was promoted to lieutenant-general in 1985 and appointed field operations commander of the XI Corps stationed in Peshawar, which had been facing indirect war with Soviet Army in Afghanistan, since 1980.

Chief of Army Staff: In March 1987, Beg was promoted to four-star general , and was appointed as Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) of Pakistan Army, though he remained under President General Zia-ul-Haq, who had been the Chief of Army Staff since 1976. He succeeded General Zia-ul-Haq as the new chief of army staff when President General Zia-ul-Haq’s plane crashed on 17 August 1988. American military authors regarded Beg as “mild but bookish general” keen to drive the country towards the tracks of democracy.

The United States military regarded Beg as an “unpredictable General” , who could not be counted on to continue close military cooperation with the United States as Zia did in the 1980s. The Pentagon comments on Beg:  “a professional soldier with no political ambitions, but independent-minded and unpredictable.” In 1988, one Pentagon military official added that “Beg is hard to figure out and difficult to read his mind unlike other Pakistan army generals; he hasn’t been particularly friendly with the US.” Against the popular perception of a takeover, Beg endorsed Ghulam Ishaq Khan as President and called for new general elections which resulted in a peaceful democratic transfer of government to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with Benazir Bhutto as the Prime minister. Beg did not consult any of his corps commanders or principal staff officers (PSOs) and called on the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Iftikhar Sirohey, and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah, to discuss the matter briefly and within three hours of General Ziaul Haq’s death, restored the Constitution and handed over power to Ghulam Ishaq Khan. It was an unprecedented decision in favour of democracy and the rule of law. Mirza Aslam Beg was endorsed by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who confirmed his four-star appointment as Chief of Army Staff until 1991; he was replaced by General Asif Nawaz Janjua.

Unlike General Zia, Beg initiated a massive re-evaluation and education training program for the inter-services officers. In 1988, Beg’s personal initiatives led to sending of hundreds of inter-services officers to Western universities for advanced degrees. By 1991, several of the inter-services officers had gained post-graduate degree in operational and technical training.

In 1988, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto conferred Beg with specially designated civil award for restoring democracy, Tamgha-e-Jamhuriat (Medal of Democracy). In fact, Baig is the only Pakistani and four-star general officer to have been decorated with such honor. Although Benazir Bhutto was criticized for decorating a four-star general with a civilian award, she justified her decision by saying that Beg deserved the honour because he had refrained from indulging in another military adventure like Zia and instead helped Pakistan to a peaceful transition of power through general elections. He retired from the army on 16 August 1991 after completing 39 years of military service. As COAS, General Beg is credited by an Australian expert for encouraging “wider thinking about tactics within the Pakistan Army, particularly for establishing a much improved logistics chain and “contributed immensely to the army’s war fighting capabilities.”

Civil War in Afghanistan (1989–1992)

Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Pakistan-Soviet Union relations: As Chief of the Army Staff, Beg determinedly kept the military’s control over policies regarding the national security, and dictated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s role in in their formulation.. Beg testified that the “real causes behind the “Pressler amendment was significant so  long as Pakistan was considered an important entity in weakening Soviet Union’s influence in South Asia.”  Various writers greatly questioned his idea of “strategic depth”, which aimed the transfer of Pakistan’s military science command to Afghanistan against a war with India.

Beg supported the role of his deputy, Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul in Afghanistan’s war who had masterminded the Jalalabad operation; which failed. Gul was deposed by Prime Minister Bhutto soon after this action.  Beg’s role remained vital during and after the Soviet Union’s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and he showed no intent of coordinating joint efforts with the U.S. to end the war in the country. In late 1989, Pakistan and U.S. floated the idea of bringing a clerical government to the departing communist order. Authors and media reporters maintained that Beg controversially proposed an intelligence plan between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran that would grow into a “core of the Muslim world.” This was met with hostility in the government and Foreign Minister Yaqub Khan and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto objected and opposed this idea.

Gulf war: In 1989, Beg drafted a contingency plan and organized a massive military exercise, Exercise Zarb-e-Momin, to prove the military solidarity contentions. One notable event of his career as chief of army staff at the end of the Cold War took place in 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in the political tension prevailing between the two Arab countries; Beg endorsed the United States-led military campaign against Iraq. In a briefing given to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Beg gave his assessment that once the ground battle with Iraqi Army began, they would defeat the American Army. The Iraq War with Kuwait was a polarizing political issue in Pakistan and Beg was careful in the deployment of the Pakistan Armed Forces’ contingent during Operation Desert Storm in 1991; he calculated that the popular opinion would favour Iraq, as the anti-American sentiment in the Middle East would rise with time. Neither did his strategic predictions come true nor did he get an extension, and soon after the end of Gulf war, Beg proceeded to retirement on 18 August 1991.

Although Beg accused the Western countries for encouraging Iraq to invade Kuwait, he kept his armed forces fighting against Iraq in support of Saudi Arabia. In 1990, he held a state dinner for United States Central Command (US CENTCOM) commander, General Norman Schwarzkopf, and with Chairman Joint Chiefs Admiral Iftikhar Sirohey, he briefed the US CENTCOM of the Pakistan Armed Forces operational preparedness and capability in the Saudi contingent.

Controversies

Mehran Bank scandal

Soon after his retirement, Beg earned public criticism for his alleged personal involvement in the Mehran Bank scandal which was made public in 1990. His rival and critic, former Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Asghar Khan filed a petition in the Supreme Court against Beg, and also implicated the former director of ISI,  Lieutenant-General (retired) Asad Durrani and his civilian accountant Younis Habib. This was done after Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s Interior minister, Naseerullah Babar, had apprised the national parliament of the issue in 1994. Baber maintained that the ISI had disbursed funds to purchase the loyalty of the  conservative masses and nationalist public figures to manipulate the 1990 general elections and bring the conservatives in race to compete with leftist forces in the country. As Chief of Army Staff, General Beg managed to get ₨. 140 million from civilian accountant Younis Habib and deposited this in the Survey Section,  account 202 of Military Intelligence (MI). Approximately ₨. 6 million were channeled to the election cell of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan— the election cell including Syed Rafaqat, statesmen Roedad Khan and Ijlal Haider Zaidi.

Nuclear proliferation controversy

Beg was widely criticized internationally for his alleged involvement in the nuclear program of Iran. In a report published by Khaled Ahmed in “The Friday Times”; he contended that after taking over as Chief of Army Staff, General Aslam Beg began lobbying about “[cooperation with Iran] on nuclear technology as a part of his [strategy of defiance] of the United States. As chief of army staff, Beg had initiated lectureship programs on physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering for inter-services officers, by the Pakistani scientists serving as their professors, to have better understanding on nuclear matters and policy development. Earlier, Baig had calculated that cooperation with Iran was popular and that, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf Arabs were less popular being American clients in the region. General Baig had encouraged Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan to proliferate technology to Iran and North Korea. The speed with which he maintained the [new nuclear policy] leads one to speculate whether he simply wanted the “obstacle” of General Zia to disappear from the scene. General Zia did not know / receive any payment of this agreement; in fact, Zia did not know if Beg was in it with Iran. Zia was deeply committed to the Arabs, especially to Saudi Arabia, to restrain the Iranian influence.

According to Khaled Ahmed, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was shocked that Beg had signed a secret nuclear deal with Iran without telling him; therefore he (prime minister) abrogated this cooperation and tightened the security watch on A.Q. Khan. However, in a 2004 interview to PBS, Beg clearly denied his involvement with Iranian program and quoted:

If [Benazir] government wasn’t aware, how was I aware? I was army chief from 1988 to 1991. If we were not told what was happening beneath the surface when the Americans knew, the British agencies knew, and their to have penetrated the entire system including Pakistan— so are they not guilty?”—Mirza Aslam Beg, 2004

In 2005 interview to NBC, Beg defended himself and A.Q. Khan, maintaining that “Nuclear Proliferators can’t be stopped.” Beg added that the Americans and Europeans have been engaged in nuclear proliferation as part of a concept, called “outsourcing nuclear capability,” to friendly countries as a measure of defense against nuclear strike. Beg pointed out that the “nuclear non-proliferation regime, therefore, is dying its natural death at the hands of those who are the exponents of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.” Beg also theorized that “nuclear deterrent is what holds the strategic balance between the two or more belligerents”.

Accusation of role in Zia’s death: In an article written by prominent columnist, Khaled Ahmed, in the Express Tribune, Beg was in contact with senior scientist, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan for bringing Iran into the fold of “nuclear prowess” much to the annoyance of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.  At this point, without a green signal from the President, Beg got acquainted with Dr. A.Q. Khan to secretly proliferate the nuclear fuel technology.

On 1 December 2012, President Zia’s son, Ijaz-ul-Haq maintained that it was Beg who conspired in the death of his father. At the GEO News interview, Haq added that General Baig:

  • Caused the wreckage of the plane to be removed to hide the effects of a missile fired into the plane from another plane.
  • General Beg also prevented autopsies of the dead to hide the fact that everyone on the plane had died from gas poisoning.

Earlier in 1988, the Shafi-ur-Rehman Commission responsible for establishing the cause of the crash of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s plane,  concluded that because of the Army’s obstruction in the investigation, the real perpetrators behind the attack could not be brought forward.

Post-military career: After failing to persuade the government for grant of extension, Beg’s political ambitions forced president Ghulam Ishaq Khan to nominate General Asif Nawaz Janjua as the designated chief of army staff three months prior to his retirement. After his retirement he continued the professorship at National Defence University in Islamabad, and remained active in country’s political and military affairs.

Political activism: On returning to civilian life, General Beg founded and established a policy think-tank institute in Islamabad, known as Foundation for Research on International Environment,  National Development and Security (Friends).  He is the current founding chairman of the Friends think-tank. He  later founded the nationalist political party, the Awami Qaiyadat Party (National Leadership Party) which continued to be a powerful part of right-wing . Though, his party gained no political prominence and failed to compete in national general elections; it remains registered in the Election Commission with gun as its election symbol.

Criticism by President Musharraf: President General Pervez Musharraf served under General Baig and Lt. General Gul. General Beg was one of many professors under whom Musharraf had studied at the National Defence University; he had high regards for Beg as one of his “significant professors” in the university years but after September 11, 2001, they gradually drifted apart, and differences surfaced for the first time in 2001. In a television press conference, Musharraf spoke about the negative role of a few high-ranking officers which included Beg. He was labelled as one of many professors at NDU who were “pseudo-intellectuals.” Later in January 2008, General Aslam Beg as member of  the Pakistan ex-Servicemen Society (ESS) urged President Musharraf to voluntarily step down in the greater interests of Pakistan.

Books authored by Beg

  • Beg, Mirzā Aslam (1999). 1st, ed. National security: diplomacy and defence. Rawalpindi: FRIENDS Publication. p. 93. ISBN 969-8199-13-6. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  • Beg, Mirza Aslam (1994). Development and security : thoughts and reflections. Rawalpindi, Pakistan: Foundation for Research and National Development and Security, FRIENDS. p. 252. ISBN 969-8199-01-2.

Articles and works by Beg

  • Beg, Mirza A. (July 10, 2011). “The superpower under siege”. The Nation. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  • Beg, Mirza A. (August 21, 2011). “Pak-US relations: Terms of engagement”. The Nation. Retrieved 24 March 2013.

General Mirza Aslam Beg

Birth Name Mirza Aslam Baig
Nickname(s) General Beg
Born 2 August 1931(age 85), Azamgarh district, Uttar Pradesh, British Indian Empire (Present day, India)
Allegiance Pakistan
Service/branch Pakistan Army
Years of service 1952–1991
Rank

 

General; OF-9 Pakistan Army.svg; US-O10 insignia
Service number PA – 4064
Unit Baloch Regiment
Commands held

 

Chief of Army Staff; Adjutant General (AG); Chief of General Staff (CGS); XI Corps, Peshawar; Vice Chief of Army Staff; Chief Instructor (CI) at NDU; 14th Army Division, Okara
Battles/Wars

 

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965; Indo-Pakistani War of 1971; Siachen conflict; Afghanistan war of 1991; Operation Desert Storm

 Awards

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By courtesy Wikipedia.org

 

General Pervez Musharraf

General Musharraf’s Five Years in Power

In the elections of 2002, the General felt that it was important for him to secure a majority in parliament in order to be able to rule effectively and satisfy national and international public opinion,  that Pakistan was moving towards a democratic order. In order to acquire the majority, the Inter Service Intelligence Agency (ISI), which over the years, largely by collaboration of political parties, has grown into a powerful parallel government, was used to advise and browbeat politicians to join the King’s Party. In order to keep on the right side of the religious parties, the religious educational qualifications of their candidates for elections were recognized as equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts degree which was a requirement for contesting elections. Moreover, the alliance of religious parties was allowed to keep the ‘Book ‘, (which to the majority of the people symbolized the ‘Quran’) as their election symbol. They were thus helped to secure a large number of assembly seats, particularly in the North West Frontier Province and in Balochistan, which they could otherwise not have done. It was hoped- probably correctly- that they would live up to their past and support the military regime on vital issues.

Selectivity rather than impartiality became the norm in the accountability of politicians. This was done sparingly before the 2002 election and widely before the formation of the elected government. Important principles were sacrificed to secure a majority and known criminals were made ministers. In order to secure majorities in the National and Sindh assemblies, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was inducted into the government in the centre and in Sindh. It is generally believed that its leader Altaf Hussain, who has become a British national and has not visited Pakistan for more than twelve years, advises and influences the central government and the government of Sindh. His nominee, who is allegedly an accused in a murder case, has been made the governor of Sindh.

Corruption has been on the increase and has assumed epidemic proportions. General Pervez Musharraf is not known to be involved in corruption and is generally regarded personally as clean. However, when I said this to someone the other day, he retorted that it is only after they leave that we learn the truth.

Musharraf’s desire to satisfy different political groups that support the King’s Party has led him to form a government of the largest number of ministers in Pakistan’s history. Very soon, everyone in the government party or supporting it, is likely to occupy some ministerial or other position in government. It is an unjustified burden on the country’s finances.

It cannot be expected that a government comprising a large number of corrupt elements who are in politics to serve their personal interests could change the destiny of the country. It is clear that the steps that General Musharraf has taken or the deviations that he has made in his seven points program have been motivated by his desire to stay in power with a facade of democracy.

Courtesy: We’ve Learnt Nothing From History, M. Asghar Khan, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York 2005

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Pervez Musharraf in November 2004 پرویز مشرف

Pervez Musharraf born on 11 August 1943 in Delhi (British India) is a Pakistani politician and a retired four-star army general who was the tenth President of Pakistan from 2001 until tendering resignation, to avoid impeachment, in 2008.

He grew up in Karachi and Istanbul, and studied mathematics at the Forman Christian College in Lahore, and continued his professional academics at the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1991. Musharraf entered the Pakistan Military Academy in 1961 and was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in 1964. He went on to play an active role in the Afghan Civil War, and saw actions as a second lieutenant in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. By the 1980s, Musharraf was commanding an artillery brigade. In the 1990s, he was promoted to major general and assigned to an infantry division, and later commanded the Special Services Group. Later he served as deputy military secretary and the director general of military operations.

Musharraf rose to national prominence when he was appointed as four-star general by then-Prime Minister Sharif in October 1998, making him the head of the armed forces. In 1999, he led the Kargil infiltration that brought India and Pakistan to a full-fledged war. After months of contentious relations with Prime Minister Sharif who unsuccessfully attempted to remove Musharraf from the leadership of the army in retaliation, the army staged a coup d’état in 1999. This allowed Musharraf to take-over Pakistan and he subsequently had Prime Minister Sharif arrested and placed in detention before Sharif’s  trial in Adiala Prison.

Musharraf became the head of the military government while remaining the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 2001 and the Chief of the Army Staff. He relinquished the position of chairman of joint chiefs in 2001, but remained the Army Chief until retiring in 2007. He became the President of Pakistan on 20 June 2001, and won a controversial referendum on May 1, 2002 which awarded him five years of presidency.  In October 2002, he oversaw a general election which gave victory to the army backed PML-Q.

During his presidency, he advocated a third way in the synthesis of conservatism and left wing ideology, and appointed Shaukat Aziz in place of Sharif. He directed polices against terrorism, becoming a key player in the American-led war on terror. Over the next several years, Musharraf survived a number of assassination attempts. He reinstated the constitution in 2002, though it was amended with the Legal Framework Order. He also saw a process of social liberalism under his enlightened moderation program, while also promoting economic liberalization; he banned trade unions. He oversaw a rise in overall gross domestic product of around 50%, however domestic savings declined, and economic inequality grew. Musharraf has been accused of human rights abuses.

Shaukat Aziz left the job of Prime Minister, and after approval in 2007 of the suspension of judicature branch, Musharraf’s position dramatically weakened in early 2008. Tendering his resignation under  threat of potential impeachment led by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in 2008, Musharraf moved to London in self-imposed exile; returning to Pakistan to participate in the general elections held in 2013. While absent from Pakistan, Musharraf engaged in legal battles, and the country’s high courts issued warrants for him and Aziz for their alleged involvement in the assassinations of Benazir and Bugti. Upon his return in April 2013, Musharraf was disqualified from taking part in the elections by High Court judges. On 31st March 2014, Musharraf was booked and charged with high treason for implementing emergency rule and suspending the constitution in 2007.

His legacy is mixed; his era saw the emergence of a more assertive middle class, but his disregard for civilian institutions weakened the country.

Early life (British India)

Pervez Musharraf was born on 11 August 1943, to an Urdu-speaking family in Delhi. He is the son of Syed and Zarin Musharraf. His father, Syed Musharraf, graduated from Aligarh Muslim University, in Aligarh, India and was a civil servant of the Government of India. His mother, Zarin, born in the early 1920s, also worked as an academic and graduated from Aligarh Muslim University.

Musharraf’s first childhood home was called ‘neharwali haveli’, literally ‘house by the canal’. Syed Ahmed Khan’s family lived next door indicative of “the family’s western education and social prominence”, the home’s title deeds were written entirely in Urdu except for his father’s English signature.

Pakistan and Turkey

Musharraf and his family left for Pakistan on one of the last safe trains in August 1947, a few days before independence.  His father joined the Pakistan Civil Services; later he joined the Foreign Ministry, taking up an assignment in Turkey.  Musharraf’s family moved to Ankara in 1949, when his father became part of a diplomatic deputation to Turkey. He learned to speak Turkish. He had a dog named Whiskey that gave him a “lifelong love for dogs”. He often played sports in his youth. In 1956 he left Turkey and returned to Pakistan. In 1957, he attended Saint Patrick’s School in Karachi. He was accepted at Forman Christian College University in Lahore, where he had major in mathematics and performed extremely well, and developed an interest in economics.

Initial military career

In 1961, at age of 18, Musharraf entered the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul. During his years at PMA and initial combined military training, Musharraf shared a room with P.Q.  Mehdi of PAF and Abdul Aziz Mirza of Navy (both reached four-star assignments and served with Musharraf later on).   In 1964, Musharraf graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in the 29th PMA Long Course together with Ali Kuli Khan and his lifelong friend Abdul Aziz Mirza. He was commissioned in the artillery regiment as second lieutenant and posted near the Indo-Pakistan border. During this time, he maintained his friendship and contact with Mirza via letter and telephone even in difficult times when Mirza was stationed in East-Pakistan as a military advisor after joining the Navy SSG.

Indo-Pakistani conflicts (1965–1971)

His war experience started with an artillery regiment in the fighting in Khemkaran sector in the Kashmir War of 1965. He also participated in the Lahore and Sialkot zones during the conflict. During the war, Musharraf developed a reputation for sticking to his post under shellfire. He received the Imtiaz-i -Sanad medal for gallantry.

Shortly after the end of the 1965 War, he was selected to join the Special Forces school on the recommendation of his commanding officer in Sialkot. After passing the rigorous exams and tough physical training, he joined the elite Special Service Group (SSG) and trained with then-lieutenant Shahid Karimullah (also later a four-star admiral) for joint operations. He served in the SSG from 1966–1972, and was promoted to captain and major during this period. During the 1971 war with India, he was a company commander of a SSG commando battalion, and was scheduled to join the army-navy joint military operations in East Pakistan; the deployment did not materialize after the Indian Army advanced towards Southern West Pakistan.

Professorship and military assignments (1972–1990)

Musharraf was a lieutenant colonel in 1974; and a colonel in 1978. As staff officer in the 1980s, he studied political science at NDU, and then briefly tenured as assistant professor of war studies at the Command and Staff College; then assistant professor of political science at the National Defense University. One of his professors at NDU was General Jehangir Karamat who served as his guidance counselor and instructor and had a significant influence on his philosophy and thought. He did not play any significant role in Pakistan’s proxy war in the 1979–89 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1987, he became a brigade commander in the SSG and posted near Siachen Glacier. He was personally chosen by then-President and Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq for this assignment due to Musharraf’s experience in mountain and Arctic warfare. In September 1987, an assault was launched under his command at Bilafond La but it was pushed back.

In 1990–91, he studied at the Royal College of Defense Studies (RCDS) in Britain. His course-mates included Major-Generals B. S. Malik and Ashok Mehta of the Indian Army, and Ali Kuli Khan of Pakistan Army. In his studies, Musharraf performed well and submitted his master’s degree thesis, titled “Impact of Arm Race on the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent”, and earned good remarks. His commandant, General Antony Walker regarded Musharraf as one of the finest students he had seen in his career. Walker described Musharraf as: “A capable, articulate and extremely personable officer, who made a valuable impact at RCDS. His country is fortunate to have the services of a man of his undeniable quality.”

He graduated with a master’s degree from RCDS and returned to Pakistan in the 1980s soon after. Upon returning, he took interest in the emerging popular rock music, and often listened to this music after getting off from duty. Musharraf was reportedly into popular western fashion in the 1980s, which was also popular in the government and public circles in the country at the time. In the Army, he earned the nickname “Cowboy” for his westernized ways and his interest in western clothing.

Command and staff appointments (1991–1995)

  • In 1988-89, Brigadier Musharraf proposed the Kargil infiltration to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto but she rebuffed the plan.
  • In 1991–93, he was promoted to major general and commanded the 40th Army Division stationed in Okara Military District in Punjab
  • In 1993–95, he worked closely with the Chief of Army Staff as Director-General of Pakistan Army’s Directorate General for the Military Operations (DGMO).

During this time, Musharraf came close to engineering officer and Director General of ISI, Lieutenant-General Javed Nasir, and had worked with him while directing operations in Bosnian war. His political philosophy was influenced by Benazir Bhutto who mentored him on various occasions, and Musharraf generally agreed with her on military policy issues with India.

From 1993 to 1995, Musharraf visited the United States as part of Benazir Bhutto’s  delegation. Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman lobbied for his promotion to Benazir Bhutto, and got it approved by her, which led to his appointment in her key staff. In 1993, Musharraf assisted the prime minister during a secret meeting at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, D.C. with officials from Mossad and special envoy of Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin. It was during this time that Musharraf developed a cordial relationship with Shaukat Aziz, who at the time was serving as Citibank’s executive president of global financial services.

After the collapse of the fractious Afghan government, Musharraf assisted General Babar and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in devising a policy of supporting the newly formed Taliban in the Afghan Civil War against the Northern Alliance government. On policy issues, Musharraf befriended senior justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Justice Rafiq Tarar (later president) and shared beliefs with the latter.

His last operational posting was in the Mangla region of Kashmir in 1995 when Benazir Bhutto approved his promotion to Lieutenant-General. Between 1995 and 1998, he was the corps commander (CC-I) of I Strike Corps stationed in Mangla Military District.

Chief of Army Staff and Chairman Joint Chiefs (1998-2007)

In October 1998, Nawaz Sharif and General Jehangir Karamat shared common beliefs concerning national security, but problems arose between the Prime Minister vs. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and General Jehangir Karamat. While addressing the officers and cadets at the Naval War College, General Karamat stressed the creation of National Security Council, which would be backed by a “team of civil-military experts” for devising policies to seek resolution to ongoing problems relating to the civil-military issues; and recommended a “neutral but competent bureaucracy and administration at federal level; the establishment of local governments in the four provinces.” This proposal was met with hostility, and led to the dismissal of General Karamat. This reduced Nawaz’s stature in public circles, and led to criticism from the Leader of the Opposition, Benazir Bhutto.

There were three lieutenant-generals in line to succeed General Karamat as chief of army staff. Lieutenant-General Ali Kuli Khan, a graduate of PMA and RMA, Sandhurst, was an extremely capable staff officer and well liked in public circles, but was seen as close to the former chief of army staff General (retired) Abdul Waheed; and was not promoted. Second in line was Lieutenant-General Khalid Nawaz Khan who was known for his ruthlessness in the army; particularly for his unforgiving attitude to junior officers. He was known for his anti-muhajir sentiment, and was a hardliner against the MQM.

Musharraf was in third-in line, and was well regarded by the general public and the armed forces. He also had an excellent academic standing from his college and university studies. Musharraf was  strongly favoured by the Prime Ministers colleagues: a straight officer with democratic views;  Nisar Ali Khan and Shahbaz Sharif recommended Musharraf and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif personally promoted him to the rank of four-star general to replace Karamat.

After the Kargil incident, Musharraf did not wish to continue as Chairman of  Joint Chiefs. He favoured Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Bokhari to take on the role, and said, “He did not care.” Prime Minister Sharif was displeased by this suggestion, due to his negative relationship with the Admiral. Musharraf further exacerbated his divide with Nawaz Sharif after recommending the forced retirement of senior officers close to the prime minister, including Lieutenant-General Tariq Pervez (or TP), commander of XII Corps, who was a brother-in-law of a high profile cabinet minister. According to Musharraf, Lieutenant-General TP was an ill-mannered, foul-mouthed, ill-disciplined officer who caused a great deal of dissent within the armed forces. Nawaz Sharif’s announcement of General Musharraf’s the promotion as Chairman Joint Chiefs caused an escalation of tensions with Admiral Bokhari, who upon hearing the news, launched a strong protest with the Prime minister; he relieved him of his duties the next morning. It was during this period as Chairman of Joint Chiefs that Musharraf began to build friendly relations with the United States Army establishment, including General Anthony Zinni, USMC, General Tommy Franks, General John Abizaid, and General Colin Powell, all of whom were four-star generals in the military.

Kargil Conflict

The Pakistan Army conceived the Kargil plan after the Siachen conflict but the plan was rebuffed repeatedly by senior civilian and military officials. Musharraf was a leading planner behind the Kargil Conflict. From March to May 1999, he ordered the secret infiltration of Kashmiri forces in the Kargil district. After India discovered the infiltration, a fierce Indian offensive nearly led to a full-scale war. However, Sharif withdrew support to the insurgents in July because of heightened international pressure. His decision antagonized the Pakistan Army and rumors of a possible coup began emerging soon afterwards about Sharif and Musharraf’s dispute; responsibility for the Kargil conflict and Pakistan’s withdrawal.

This military operation was met with great hostility in the public, and wide scale disapproval in the media. Musharraf had a confrontation and became involved in serious altercations with his senior officers; Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Fasih Bokhari, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal P.Q.  Mehdi and Lieutenant-General Ali Kuli Khan. Admiral Bokhari demanded a joint-service court martial against General Musharraf, while on the other hand General Ali  Kuli Khan lambasted the war as “a disaster bigger than the East-Pakistan tragedy”, adding that the plan was “flawed in terms of its conception, tactical planning and execution” that ended in “sacrificing so many soldiers.” Problems with his lifelong friend, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Pervez Mehdi also arose when the air chief refrained to authorize any air strike to support the army operations in the Kargil region.

During a last meeting with the Prime minister, Musharraf faced criticism on the results of the Kargil infiltration by the military intelligence (MI) director, Lieutenant-General Jamshed Gulzar Kiani who maintained in the meeting: “(…) whatever has been written this is against logic. If you catch your enemy by the jugular vein he will react with full force…. If you cut enemy supply lines, the only option for him will be to ensure supplies by air… (sic).. . and that situation the Indian Army was unlikely to confront and it had to come up to the occasion. It is against wisdom that you dictate to the enemy to keep the war limited to a certain front….”

Nawaz Sharif has maintained that the Operation was conducted without his knowledge. However, details of the briefing given by the military before and after the Kargil operation became public. Between January and March before the operation, Sharif was briefed  in three separate meetings:

  1. In January, the army briefed him about the Indian troop movement along the LOC in Skardu on 29 January 1999,
  2. On 5 February at Kel,
  3. On 12 March at the GHQ and
  4. Finally on 17 May at the ISI headquarters.

During the end of the June DCC meeting, a tense Sharif turned to the army chief and said “you should have told me earlier“, Musharraf pulled out his notebook and repeated the dates and contents of around seven briefings he had given him since beginning of January.

Chief Executive, 1999 coup

Military officials from Musharraf’s Joint Staff Headquarters (JS HQ) met with regional corps commanders three times in late September in anticipation of a possible coup. To quell rumours of fallout between Musharraf and Sharif, Sharif officially certified Musharraf’s remaining two years of his term on 30 September.

 

Musharraf left for a weekend trip to take part in Sri Lanka’s Army’s 50th-anniversary celebrations. When he was returning from this official visit to Colombo,  his flight was denied landing permission at Karachi International Airport on orders from the Prime Minister’s office. On hearing the announcement of the replacement of Pervez Musharraf with Khwaja Ziauddin, the third replacement of the top military commander of the country in less than two years, local military commanders began to mobilize troops towards Islamabad from nearby Rawalpindi. The military placed Sharif under house arrest, but in a last-ditch effort Sharif privately ordered Karachi air traffic controllers to redirect Musharraf’s flight to India. The plan failed after soldiers in Karachi surrounded the airport control tower. At 2:50 am on 13 October, Musharraf addressed the nation with a recorded message.

  • On 13 October, Musharraf met with President Rafiq Tarar to deliberate on legitimizing the coup.
  • On 15 October, Musharraf terminated hopes of a quick transition to democracy after he declared a state of emergency, suspended the Constitution, and assumed power as Chief Executive. He also quickly purged the government of political enemies, notably Ziauddin and national airline chief Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
  • On 17 October, he gave his second national address and established a seven-member military-civilian council to govern the country.
  • On 21 October, he named three retired military officers and a judge as provincial administrators.
  • Finally, Musharraf assumed executive powers. He did not assume the office of Prime minister and the secretariat (official residence of Prime Minister of Pakistan) was closed by the military police and staff was dismissed immediately.

There were no organised protests within the country to the coup which was widely criticized by the international community. Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations. Sharif was put under house arrest and later exiled to Saudi Arabia on his personal request and under a contract.

First days

The senior military appointments in the inter-services were important for Musharraf to keep the legitimacy and support for his coup in the services. In the PAF, Musharraf pressured President Tarar to appoint the junior most air marshal to four-star rank, particularly someone with whom Musharraf had experience of working during the inter-services operations. Once Air-Chief Marshal Pervez Mehdi was retired, Air Marshal Mushaf Mir (who worked with Musharraf in 1996 to assist ISI in Taliban matters) was appointed to four-star rank as well as elevated as Chief of Air Staff. There were two important appointments made by Musharraf in the Navy.  Admiral Aziz Mirza, a lifelong friend of Musharraf who was appointed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was retained. Mirza remained extremely supportive of Musharraf’s coup and was also his close friend since 1971 when both had participated in a joint operation against the Indian Army. After Mirza’s retirement, Musharraf appointed Admiral Shahid Karimullah, with whom he had trained in Special Forces school in the 1960s, to four-star rank and Chief of Naval Staff.

Musharraf’s first foreign visit was to Saudi Arabia on 26 October where he met King Fahd. After meeting senior Saudi royals, the next day he went to Medina and also performed Umrah in Mecca. On 28 October, he went to United Arab Emirates enroute to home.

By the end of October, Musharraf appointed many technocrats and bureaucrats in his Cabinet, including former Citibank executive Shaukat Aziz as Finance Minister and Abdul Sattar as Foreign Minister. In early November, he released details of his assets to the public. In late December 1999, Musharraf dealt with his first international crisis when India accused Pakistan of involvement in the Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijacking. Though President Bill Clinton of the United States pressured Musharraf to ban the alleged group behind the hijacking — Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Pakistani officials refused because of fears of reprisals from political parties such as Jamaat-e-Islami.

In March 2000, Musharraf banned political rallies. In a television interview given in 2001, Musharraf openly spoke about the negative role of a few high-ranking officers in the Pakistan Armed Forces in state’s affairs. Musharraf labelled many of his senior professors at NDU as “pseudo-intellectuals”, including the NDU’s notable professors, General Aslam Beg and Jehangir Karamat under whom Musharraf studied and served well.

Sharif trial and exile

The Military Police held former Prime Minister Sharif under house arrest at a government guesthouse and opened his Lahore home to the public in late October 1999. He was formally indicted in November on charges of hijacking, kidnapping, attempted murder, and treason for preventing Musharraf’s flight from landing at Karachi airport on the day of the coup. His trial began in early March 2000 in an anti-terrorism court, which is designed for speedy trials. He testified Musharraf had begun preparations for a coup after the Kargil conflict.

Sharif was placed in Adiala Jail, notorious for the hosting Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s trial, and his leading defence lawyer, Iqbal Raad, was shot dead in Karachi in mid-March. Sharif’s defense team blamed the military for intentionally not providing their lawyers with adequate protection. The court proceedings were widely accused of being a farce. Sources from Pakistan claimed that Musharraf and his military government’s officers were in full mood to exercise tough conditions on Sharif, and intended to send him to gallows to face a similar fate as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979. It was pressure on Musharraf exerted by Saudi Arabia and the United States to exile Sharif after it became clear that the court would convict Nawaz Sharif on the charges, and sentence him to death. Sharif signed an agreement with Musharraf and his military government and his family was exiled to Saudi Arabia in December 2000.

Constitutional changes

Shortly after Musharraf’s takeover, he issued Oath of Judges Order No. 2000, which required judges to take a fresh oath of office swearing allegiance to the military. On 12 May 2000, the Supreme Court asked Musharraf to hold national elections by 12 October 2002. The residing President Rafiq Tarar remained in office until his voluntary resignation in June 2001. After his resignation, Musharraf formally appointed himself as President on 20 June 2001. In August 2002, he issued the Legal Framework Order No. 2002, which added numerous amendments to the Constitution.

2002 general elections

Musharraf called for nationwide elections in the country after accepting the ruling of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He was the first military president to accept the rulings of the Supreme Court and the holding of free and fair elections in 2002 in accordance with his vision to return democracy to the country. In October 2002, Pakistan held general elections, which the pro-Musharraf PML-Q won by a wide margin, though it had failed to gain absolute majority. The PML-Q, formed the government with far-right religious parties coalition, the MMA and the liberal, MQM; the coalition legitimised Musharraf’s rule.

After elections, the PML-Q nominated Zafarullah Khan Jamali for the office of Prime minister, which Musharraf also approved. After first session at the Parliament, Musharraf voluntarily transferred the powers of chief executive to Prime Minister of Pakistan Zafarullah Khan Jamali. Musharraf succeeded in passing the XVII amendment, which granted powers to dissolve the parliament, with approval required from the Supreme Court. Within two years, Jamali proved to be an ineffective prime minister to implement his policies in the country and problems with business class of Pakistan surfaced. Musharraf accepted the resignation of Jamali and asked his close colleague Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to appoint a new prime minister in place. Hussain nominated Finance minister Shaukat Aziz, who had been impressive due to his performance as finance minister in 1999. Musharraf regarded Aziz as his right hand and preferable choice for the office of Prime minister. With Aziz appointed as Prime minister, Musharraf transferred all executive powers to Aziz who proved capable in running the government and the economic growth reached a maximum level, which stabilised Musharraf’s presidency. Aziz quietly undermined the elements seeking to negate Musharraf. During 2004–07, Aziz approved many projects that did not required permission from Musharraf, who trusted Shaukat Aziz

In 2010, all constitutionals changes carried out by Musharraf and Aziz’s policies were reverted by the 18th Amendment, which put  the  country back to its initial position and gave powers to Prime minister according to the constitution.

Presidency

The presidency of Pervez Musharraf helped bring the liberal forces at the national level and into prominence, for the first time in the history of Pakistan. He granted national amnesty to the political workers of the liberal parties like MQM and PML (Q), and supported MQM in becoming a central player in the government. Musharraf disbanded the cultural policies of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and quickly adopted those of Benazir Bhutto after disbanding the Indian media channels in the country.

His cultural policies liberalized the Pakistan’s media, and many television licenses were issued to the private-sector to open television centers and media houses. The television dramas, film industry, theatre, music and literature activities, were personally encouraged by Pervez Musharraf. Under his policies, the rock music bands gained approval in the country and many concerts were held each week. The cultural policies promoted the national spirit in the country. In 2001, Musharraf got on stage with the rock music band, Junoon, and sang national song with the band.

On political front, Musharraf faced fierce opposition from the ultraconservative alliance, the MMA, led by clergyman Maulana Noorani. In Pakistan, Maulana Noorani was remembered as a mystic religious leader who had preached the spiritual aspects of Islam all over the world as part of the World Islamic Mission.  Although, the political deadlock posed by Maulana Noorani was neutralized after his death, Musharraf continued to face the opposition from ARD led by Benazir Bhutto of the PPP.

Support for the War on Terror

Musharraf allied with the United States against the Afghan Mujahideen in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks. The Afghan Mujahideen, Al-Qaeda operatives, and other fundamentalist groups had  been consolidated and endorsed by the U.S.-backed President General Zia-ul-Haq, and initial financial funding was  endorsed by the United States against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

A few months after the September 11 attacks, Musharraf gave a speech against extremism. He instituted prohibitions on foreign students’ access to the study of Islam within Pakistan, an effort that began as an outright ban but was later reduced to restrictions on obtaining visas. On 18 September 2005, Musharraf made a speech before a broad based audience of Jewish leadership, sponsored by the American Jewish Congress’s Council for World Jewry, in New York City. In the speech, he denounced Islamic ideology and opened the door to relationships between his secular ideology and Israel. He was widely criticised by Middle Eastern leaders, but was met with some praise within the  Jewish leadership.

Relations with India

After the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, Musharraf expressed his sympathies to Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and sent a plane load of relief supplies to India. In the 2004, Musharraf began a series of talks with India to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Relations with Saudi Arabia

In 2006, King Abdullah visited Pakistan for the first time as King, and Musharraf honoured him with the Nishan-e-Pakistan. Musharraf received the King Abdul-Aziz Medallion in 2007.

Nuclear scandal

From September 2001 until his resignation in 2007 from the military, his presidency suffered controversial atomic scandals than any other government in the history of the country. These scandals badly affected his authority legitimacy in the country and in the international community. In October 2001, Musharraf authorised a sting operation led by FIA to arrest two physicists Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Chaudhry Abdul Majeed due to their alleged connection with Taliban after they secretly visited Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2000. The local Pakistani media widely circulated the reports that “Mahmood had a meeting with Osama bin Laden where Bin Laden had shown interest in building a radiological weapon.”Later, it was revealed that neither of the scientists was capable of building designs of the bomb and lacked scientific knowledge of such weapons. The credibility of these two scientists was put in doubt of their role in country’s atomic bomb program. In December 2001, he authorized the security hearings of the two scientists who were taken in the custody by the JAG Branch (JAG) and the hearings continued until early 2002.

Another controversial scandal during Musharraf’s presidency arose as a consequence of the disclosure of atomic proliferation by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. On 27 February 2001, Musharraf spoke highly of Abdul Qadeer Khan in a farewell state dinner in Islamabad; personally approving of his appointment as Science Advisor to the Government.

In 2004, Musharraf relieved Qadeer Khan from his post and initially denied knowledge of government’s and the armed forces role in nuclear proliferation; in spite of Qadeer Khan maintaining that Musharraf was the “Big Boss” of the proliferation ring. Following this, Musharraf authorized national security hearings of Qadeer Khan, which continued until his resignation from the army in 2007. According to Zahid Malik, Musharraf and the military establishment at the time exercised abuse in actions against Qadeer Khan to prove their loyalty to the United States and Western world.

 

The investigations back fired on Musharraf and  public opinion turned against him soon after. The massive and populist ARD movement, containing the major political parties especially the rivals PML and the PPP, used the issue politically to malign Musharraf and to bring down his presidency.

In the public circles, the interrogation of Abdul Qadeer Khan had severely damaged Musharraf’s public image and his political prestige in the country. Musharraf faced bitter domestic criticism for singularly attempting to vilify Qadeer Khan, specifically from opposition leader Benazir Bhutto who issued harassing statements of Musharraf’s role. In an interview with Daily Times, Benazir Bhutto maintained that Abdul Qadeer Khan was made “scapegoat” in this nuclear proliferation scandal and she didn’t “believe that such a big scandal could have taken place under the nose of General Musharraf“. The long standing ally of Musharraf, the MQM, gave bitter and public criticism of Musharraf over his handling of Qadeer Khan. The ARD movement and the political parties further politicized this issue after tapping public anger and mass demonstrations all over the country against Musharraf took place. The credibility of the United States was also badly damaged over this issue; the United States refrained from pressuring Musharraf to take further actions against Qadeer Khan due to their calculations. While Qadeer Khan remained popular in the country, on the other hand, Musharraf could not sustain the political pressure and his presidency was weakened, being harassed by Benazir Bhutto over this issue. In a quick move, Musharraf quickly pardoned Qadeer Khan in exchange for cooperation and issued confinement orders against him that limited Khan’s movement. Musharraf wasted no time to hand over the case of Abdul Qadeer Khan into the hands of Prime minister Aziz who had been supportive towards Qadeer Khan and spoke highly of him in public in 2007; personally, “thanking” Qadeer Khan, and quoting: “The services of Dr. Qadeer Khan are unforgettable for the country.”

On 4 July 2008, in an interview, Qadeer Khan laid the blame on President Musharraf and later on Benazir Bhutto for transferring the technology, claiming that Musharraf was aware of all the deals and he was the “Big Boss” for those deals. Abdul Qadeer Khan said that, “Musharraf gave centrifuges to North Korea in a 2000 shipment supervised by the armed forces. The equipment was sent in a North Korean plane loaded under the supervision of Pakistan security officials.“Nuclear weapons expert David Albright of the ISIS agrees that Qadeer Khan’s activities were government-sanctioned. After Musharraf’s resignation, Qadeer Khan was finally released from house arrest by the executive order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. After Musharraf departed from the country, the successive Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid terminated all further debriefings of Abdul Qadeer Khan. A complicating factor is that, few believed that Qadeer Khan acted alone and the affair gravely damaged the Armed Forces, which oversaw and controlled the nuclear weapons development and of which Musharraf was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, until his resignation from military service on 28 November 2007.

Corruption issues

When Musharraf came to power in 1999, he promised that the corruption in the government bureaucracy would be cleaned up. However, some claimed that the level of corruption did not diminish throughout Musharraf’s time.

Domestic politics

In December 2003, Musharraf made a deal with MMA, a six-member coalition of far-right Islamic parties, agreeing to leave the army by 31 December 2004. With that party’s support, pro-Musharraf legislators were able to muster the two-thirds majority required to pass the Seventeenth Amendment, which retroactively legalised Musharraf’s 1999 coup and many of his decrees. In late 2004, Musharraf went back on his agreement with the MMA and pro-Musharraf legislators in the Parliament passed a bill allowing Musharraf to keep both offices. Constitution Article 63 clause (1) paragraph (d), read with proviso to Article 41 clause (7) paragraph (b), allows the President to hold dual office.

On 1 January 2004, Musharraf had won a confidence vote in the Electoral College of Pakistan, consisting of both houses of Parliament and the four provincial assemblies. Musharraf received 658 out of 1170 votes, a 56% majority, but many opposition and Islamic members of parliament walked out in protest . As a result of this vote, his term was extended to 2007.

Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali resigned on 26 June 2004, after losing the support of the Musharraf’s party, PML (Q). His resignation was at least partially due to his public differences with the party chairman, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. This was rumored to have happened at Musharraf’s directive. Jamali had been appointed with the support of Musharraf and the pro-Musharraf PML (Q). Most PML (Q) parliamentarians formerly belonged to the Pakistan Muslim League party led by Sharif, and most ministers of the cabinet were formerly senior members of other parties, joining the PML (Q) after the elections upon being offered positions. Musharraf nominated Shaukat Aziz, the minister for finance and a former employee of Citibank and head of Citibank Private Banking as the new prime minister.

Women’s rights

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President Musharraf is greeted by President Bush in Washington in September 2006.

The National Assembly voted in favour of the “Women’s Protection Bill” on 15 November 2006 and the Senate approved it on 23 November 2006. President General Pervez Musharraf signed into law the “Women’s Protection Bill”, on 1 December 2006. The bill places rape laws under the penal code and allegedly does away with harsh conditions that previously required victims to produce four male witnesses and exposed the victims to prosecution for adultery, if they were unable to prove the crime. However, the Women’s Protection bill has been criticised heavily by many for paying continued lip service and failing to address the actual problem by its roots: repealing the Hudood Ordinance. In this context, Musharraf has also been criticized by women and human rights activists for not following up his words by action. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that “The so-called Women’s Protection Bill is a farcical attempt at making Hudood Ordinances palatable” outlining the issues of the bill and the continued impact on women.

His government increased reserved seats for women in assemblies, to increase women’s representation and make their presence more effective. Compared with 1988 seats in the National Assembly were increased from 20 to 60. In provincial assemblies 128 seats were reserved for women. This situation has brought an increase participation of women for 1988 and 2008 elections.

In March 2005, a couple of months after the rape of a Pakistani physician, Dr. Shazia Khalid, who worked on a government gas plant in the remote Balochistan province, Musharraf was criticised for pronouncing, Captain Hammad, a fellow military man and the accused in the case, innocent before the judicial inquiry was complete.  Following the rape, riots erupted in the local Bugti clan of the province, where the rape took place. They saw a rape in their heartland as being a breach of their code of honour and attacked the gas plant. In an uncompromising response Musharraf sent tanks, helicopters and extra 4,500 soldiers to guard the installation. If the tribesmen failed to stop shooting, he warned on television, “They will not know what hit them.” Shazia was later forced and threatened by the government to leave the country.

In an interview to The Washington Post in September 2005 Musharraf said that Pakistani women, who were the victims of rape, treated rape as a “moneymaking concern” and were only interested in the publicity in order to make money and get a Canadian visa. He subsequently denied making these comments, but The Washington Post made available an audio recording of the interview, in which Musharraf could be heard making the quoted remarks. Musharraf also denied Mukhtaran Mai, a Pakistani rape victim, the right to travel abroad, until pressured by US State Department. The remarks made by Musharraf sparked outrage and protests both internationally and in Pakistan by various groups i.e. women groups, activists. In a rally, held close to the presidential palace and Pakistan’s parliament, hundreds of women demonstrated in Pakistan demanding Musharraf apologise for the controversial remarks about female rape victims.

Assassination attempts

In 2000 Kamran Atif, an alleged member of Harkat-ul Mujahideen al-Alami, tried to assassinate Musharraf. Atif was sentenced to death in 2006 by an Anti Terrorism Court. On 14 December 2003, Musharraf survived an assassination attempt when a powerful bomb went off minutes after his highly guarded convoy crossed a bridge in Rawalpindi. It was the third such attempt during his four-year rule. On 25 December 2003, two suicide bombers tried to assassinate Musharraf, but their car bombs failed to kill him; 16 others died instead. Musharraf escaped with only a cracked windshield on his car. Amjad Farooqi was an alleged mastermind behind these attempts, and was killed by Pakistani forces in 2004 after an extensive manhunt.

On 6 July 2007, there was another assassination attempt, when an unknown group fired a 7.62 submachine gun at Musharraf’s plane as it took off from a runway in Rawalpindi. Security also recovered 2 anti-aircraft guns, from which no shots had been fired. On 17 July 2007, Pakistani police detained 39 people in relation to the attempted assassination. The suspects were detained at an undisclosed location by a joint team of Punjab Police, the Federal Investigation Agency and other Pakistani intelligence agencies.

On 8 October 2007, a military helicopter escorting President Musharraf, on his visit to the earthquake-affected areas on its second anniversary, crashed near Muzaffarabad, killing four people, including a brigadier. The Puma helicopter crashed at Majohi near Garhi Dupatta in Azad Kashmir at 11:15 am due to technical fault. Those killed included Brigadier Zahoor Ahmed, Naik Ajmal, Sepoy Rashid and PTV cameraman Muhammad Farooq, while President’s Media Advisor Maj Gen (R) Rashid Qureshi sustained injuries. Twelve people were on board the helicopter.

Fall from the presidency

By August 2007, polls showed 64 percent of Pakistanis did not want another Musharraf term. Controversies involving the atomic issues, Lal Masjid incident, unpopular operation in West, suspension of popular Chief Justice, and widely circulated criticisms from rivals, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, had scarred the personal image of Musharraf in public and political circles. More importantly, with Shaukat Aziz departing from the office of Prime Minister, Musharraf could not sustain his presidency any longer and dramatically fell from it within a matter of eight months, after popular and mass public movements successfully called for his impeachment for actions taken during his term.

Suspension and reinstatement of the Chief Justice

On 9 March 2007, Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and pressed corruption charges against him. He replaced him with ally Acting Chief Justice Javed Iqbal.

Musharraf’s moves sparked protests among Pakistani lawyers. On 12 March 2007, lawyers started a campaign called Judicial Activism across Pakistan and began boycotting all court procedures in protest against the suspension. In Islamabad, as well as other cities such as Lahore, Karachi, and Quetta hundreds of lawyers dressed in black suits attended rallies, condemning the suspension as unconstitutional. Slowly the expressions of support for the ousted Chief Justice gathered momentum and by May, protesters and opposition parties took out huge rallies against Musharraf and his tenure as army chief was also challenged in the courts.

Lal Masjid siege

Lal Masjid had a religious school for women and the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, which was attached to the mosque. A male madrassa was only a few minutes’ drive away. The mosque was often attended by prominent politicians including prime ministers, army chiefs, and presidents.

In April 2007, the mosque administration started to encourage attacks on local video shops, alleging that they were selling porn films, and massage parlours, which were alleged to be used as brothels. These attacks were often carried out by the mosque’s female students. In July 2007, a confrontation occurred when government authorities made a decision to stop the student violence and send police officers to arrest the responsible individuals and the madrassa administration.

This development led to a standoff between police forces and armed students. Mosque leaders and students refused to surrender and kept firing on police from inside the mosque building. Both sides suffered casualties.

Return of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif

On 8 August 2007, Benazir Bhutto spoke about her secret meeting with Musharraf on 27 July, in an interview on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

On 14 September 2007, Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim stated that Bhutto won’t be deported, but must face corruption suits against her. He clarified Sharif’s and Bhutto’s right to return to Pakistan. Bhutto returned from eight years exile on 18 October. On 17 September 2007, Bhutto accused Musharraf’s allies of pushing Pakistan to crisis by refusing to restore democracy and share power. Musharraf called for a three-day mourning period after Bhutto’s assassination on 27 December 2007.

Sharif returned to Pakistan in September 2007, and was immediately arrested and taken into custody at the airport. He was sent back to Saudi Arabia. Saudi intelligence chief Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and Lebanese politician Saad Hariri arrived separately in Islamabad on 8 September 2007, the former with a message from Saudi King Abdullah and the latter after a meeting with Nawaz Sharif in London. They met President General Pervez Musharraf for two-and-a-half hours and discussed Nawaz Sharif’s possible return. On arrival in Saudi Arabia, Nawaz Sharif was received by Prince Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz, the Saudi intelligence chief, who had met Musharraf in Islamabad the previous day. This meeting was followed by a rare press conference, at which he had warned that Sharif should not violate the terms of King Abdullah’s agreement of staying out of politics for 10 years.

Resignation from the Military

On 2 October 2007, Musharraf appointed General Tariq Majid as Chairman Joint Chiefs Committee and approved General Ashfaq Kayani as vice chief of the army starting 8 October. When Musharraf resigned from military on 28 November 2007, Kayani became Chief of Army Staff.

2007 presidential elections

In a March 2007 interview, Musharraf said that he intended to stay in office for another five years.

A nine-member panel of Supreme Court judges deliberated on six petitions (including Jamaat-e-Islami’s, Pakistan’s largest Islamic group) for disqualification of Musharraf as presidential candidate. Bhutto stated that her party may join other opposition groups, including Sharif’s.

On 28 September 2007, in a 6–3 vote, Judge Rana Bhagwandas’s court removed obstacles to Musharraf’s election bid.

2007 state of emergency

On 3 November 2007 Musharraf declared emergency rule across Pakistan. He suspended the Constitution, imposed State of Emergency, and fired the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court again. In Islamabad, troops entered the Supreme Court building, arrested the judges and kept them under detention in their homes. Troops were deployed inside state-run TV and radio stations, while independent channels went off air. Public protests mounted against Musharraf.

2008 general elections

General elections were held on 18 February 2008, in which the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) polled the highest votes and won the most seats.  On 23 March 2008, President Musharraf said an “era of democracy” had begun in Pakistan and that he had put the country “on the track of development and progress“. On 22 March, the PPP named former parliament speaker Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani as its candidate for the country’s next prime minister, to lead a coalition government united against him.

Impeachment movement and resignation

On 7 August 2008, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (N) agreed to force Musharraf to step down and begin his impeachment. Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif announced sending a formal request or joint charge sheet that he step down, and impeach him through parliamentary process upon refusal. Musharraf refused to step down. A charge-sheet had been drafted, and was to be presented to parliament. It included Mr Musharraf’s first seizure of power in 1999—at the expense of Nawaz Sharif, the PML(N)’s leader, whom Mr Musharraf imprisoned and exiled—and his second last November, when he declared an emergency as a means to get re-elected president. The charge-sheet also listed some of Mr Musharraf’s contributions to the “war on terror.”

Musharraf delayed his departure for the Beijing Olympics, by a day. On 11 August, the government summoned the national assembly.

Exile

Pervez Musharraf led Pakistan from 1999 to 2008. On 18 August 2008, Musharraf announced his resignation. On the following day, he defended his nine-year rule in an hour-long televised speech. On 23 November 2008 he left for exile in London where he arrived the following day.

Academia and lectureship

After his resignation, Musharraf went to perform holy pilgrimage to Mecca. He then went on a speaking and lectureship tour through the Middle East, Europe, and United States. Chicago-based Embark LLC was one of the international public-relations firms trying to land Musharraf as a highly paid keynote speaker. According to Embark President David B. Wheeler, the speaking fee for Musharraf would be in the $150,000–200,000 range for a day plus jet and other V.I.P. arrangements on the ground.  In 2011, he also lectured at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on politics and racism where he also authored and published a paper with George Perkvich.

Return to politics and formation of All Pakistan Muslim League

Since quitting politics in 2008, Musharraf has been in London since 24 November 2008in self-imposed exile. Musharraf launched his own political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, in June 2010.

Legal threats and actions

 

The PML-N has tried to get Pervez Musharraf to stand trial in an article 6 trial for treason in relation to the emergency on 3 November 2007. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gilani has said a consensus resolution is required in national assembly for an article 6 trial of Pervez Musharraf.

I have no love lost for Musharraf … if parliament decides to try him, I will be with parliament. Article 6 cannot be applied to one individual … those who supported him are today in my cabinet and some of them have also joined the PML-N … the MMA, the MQM and the PML-Q supported him … this is why I have said that it is not doable,” said the Prime Minister while informally talking to editors and also replying to questions by journalists at an Iftar-dinner he had hosted for them. Although the constitution of Pakistan, Article 232 and Article 236, provides for emergencies, and on 15 February 2008, the interim Pakistan Supreme Court attempted to validated the Proclamation of Emergency on 3 November 2007, the Provisional Constitution Order No 1 of 2007 and the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007, after the Supreme Court judges were restored to the bench, on 31 July 2009, they ruled that Musharraf had violated the constitution when he declared emergency rule in 2007.

Saudi Arabia exerted its influence to attempt to prevent treason charges, under Article 6 of the constitution, from being brought against Musharraf, citing existing agreements between the states, as well as pressuring Sharif directly. As it turned out, it was not Sharif’s decision to make.

Abbottabad district and sessions judge in a missing person’s case passed judgment asking the authorities to declare Pervez Musharraf a proclaimed offender. On 11 February 2011 the Anti Terrorism Court,  issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf and charged him with conspiracy to commit murder of Benazir Bhutto. On 8 March 2011, the Sindh High Court registered treason charges against him.

Views on Pakistani police commandos

Regarding the Lahore attack on Sri Lankan players, Musharraf criticized the police commandos’ inability to kill any of the gunmen, saying “If this was the elite force I would expect them to have shot down those people who attacked them, the reaction and their training should be on a level that if anyone shoots toward the company they are guarding, in less than three seconds they should shoot the man down.”

Views on the blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Regarding the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, Musharraf said that Pakistan is sensitive to religious issues and that the blasphemy law should stay.

Return to Pakistan

Since the start of 2011, news had circulated that Musharraf would return to Pakistan before the 2013 general election. He himself vowed this in several interviews. On Piers Morgan Tonight, Musharraf announced his plans to return to Pakistan on 23 March 2012 in order to seek the Presidency in 2013. The Taliban and Talal Bugti threatened to kill him should he return. On 3 April 2014, Musharraf escaped the fourth assassination attempt, resulting in an injury of a woman, according to Pakistani news.

Electoral disqualification

On 24 March 2013, after a four-year self-imposed exile, he returned to Pakistan. He landed at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, via a chartered Emirates flight with Pakistani journalists and foreign news correspondents at around 12:40 PM PST. Hundreds of his supporters and workers of APML were at Karachi airport to welcome him. He also delivered a short public speech outside the airport lounge.

On 16 April 2013, an electoral tribunal in Chitral declared Musharraf disqualified from candidacy there, effectively quashing his political ambitions (several other constituencies had previously rejected Musharraf’s nominations). A spokesperson for Musharraf’s party said the ruling was “biased” and they would appeal the decision.

House arrest

While Musharraf had technically been on bail since his return to the country, on 18 April 2013 The Islamabad High Court ordered the arrest of Musharraf on charges relating to the 2007 arrests of judges. Musharraf escaped from court with the aid of his security personnel, and went to his farm-house mansion. The following day Musharraf was under house arrest but was later transferred to police headquarters in Islamabad. Musharraf characterized his arrest as “politically motivated “and his legal team has declared their intention to fight the charges in the Supreme Court. Further to the charges of this arrest, the Senate also passed a resolution petitioning that Musharraf be charged with high treason in relation to the events of 2007.

Court arrest orders

On Friday 26 April 2013 the court ordered house arrest for Musharraf in connection with the death of Benazir Bhutto. On 20 May, a Pakistani court granted bail to Musharraf. On 12 June 2014 Sindh High Court allowed him to travel abroad.

Murder cases investigations

On 25 June 2013, Musharraf was named as prime suspect in two separate cases, first Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and second being Akbar Bugti case by Federal Investigation Agency for masterminding the assassinations of Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti. On 20 August 2013, a Pakistani court indicted Musharraf in the assassination of Bhutto. On 2 September 2013, a FIR was registered against Pervez Musharraf for his role in the Lal Masjid Operation 2007. The FIR was lodged after the son of slain hard line cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi (who was killed during the operation) asked authorities to bring charges against Musharraf.

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Musharraf in four-star army uniform

  • 10th President of Pakistan: 20 June 2001 – 18 August 2008
  • Chief Executive of Pakistan: 12 October 1999 – 21 November 2002
  • Minister of Defence: 12 October 1999 – 23 October 2002
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee: 8 October 1998 – 7 October 2001
  • Chief of Army Staff: 6 October 1998 – 28 November 2007

Personal details

  • Born: 11 August 1943 (age 73), in Delhi, British India
  • Nationality: Pakistani
  • Musharraf is the second son with two brothers, Javed and Naved. Javed retired as a high-level official in Pakistan’s Civil Service. Naved is an anesthesiologist who has lived in Chicago since completing his residency training at Loyola University Medical Center in 1979.
  • Spouse: Musharraf married Sehba from Karachi on 28 December 1968. They have a daughter, Ayla, an architect married to film director Asim Raza, and a son, Bilal.
  • Religion: Islam
  • Political party: All Pakistan Muslim League
  • Other political affiliations: Pakistan Muslim League (Q)
  • Musharraf published his autobiography — In the Line of Fire: A Memoir  in 2006.

 Alma mater

  • Forman Christian College
  • Command and Staff College
  • National Defence University
  • Royal College of Defense

 Awards

  • Order of Excellence Nishan-e-Imtiaz.png Nishan-e-Imtiaz
  • Medal of Good Conduct Tamgha-e-Basalat.png Tamgha-e-Basalat
  • Star of Good Conduct Sitara-e-Basalat.png Imtiazi Sanad
  • Spange des König-Abdulaziz-Ordens.png Order of al-Saud

 MILITARY  SERVICE

Nickname(s)

  • “Cowboy”,”Mush”,”Palloo”
  • Allegiance: Pakistan
  • Service/branch : Pakistan Army
  • Years of service: 1964–2007
  • Rank; OF-9 Pakistan Army.svg; US-O10 insignia.svg General
  • Unit: Regiment of Artillery

 Commands

  • I Corps
  • XII Corps
  • Special Services Group
  • DG Military operations
  • 40th Army Division, Okara

 Battles/Wars

  • Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
  • Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
  • Siachen conflict
  • Kargil War
  • Civil war in Afghanistan (1996–2001)
  • 1999 Pakistani coup d’état
  • 2001–2002 India-Pakistan standoff
  • War in North-West Pakist

By courtesy Wikipedia.org


 

General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq

Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq [ محمد ضیاءالحق‎] ( 12 August 1924 – 17 August 1988) was a four-star General who served as the 6th President of Pakistan from 1978 (after declaring martial law in 1977) until his death in 1988. He was Pakistan’s longest-serving head of state. Educated at Delhi University, Zia saw action in World War II as a British Indian Army officer before opting for Pakistan in 1947. He fought in the war against India in 1965 and in 1970 led Pakistan’s military training mission in Jordan which was instrumental in putting down the Black September insurgency against King Hussein. In recognition, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto approved his four-star appointment as general in the Pakistan Army, and appointed him as its chief in 1976.  During civil disorder, Zia deposed Bhutto in a military coup and on 5 July 1977 declared martial law. Bhutto was tried by the Supreme Court and executed less than two years later for authorizing the murder of a political opponent.

Assuming the presidency in 1978, Zia played a major role in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Assisted by the United States and Saudi Arabia, Zia coordinated the Afghan mujahideen against Soviet occupation throughout the 1980s.  The Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989; millions of Afghan refugees came to the NWFP province in Pakistan with associated drugs and weaponry problems.

Zia increased ties with China, the European Economic Community, the United States, and emphasized Pakistan’s role in the Islamic world. Relations with India worsened with the Siachen conflict and accusations of aid to the Khalistan movement.

At home, Zia passed broad-ranging legislation as part of Pakistan’s Islamisation which were criticized for promoting religious intolerance. He escalated the atomic bomb project, and increased industrialization and deregulation, helping the economy to become one of the fastest-growing in South Asia. On average, the GDP growth was the highest in the country’s history in his tenure.

After lifting martial law and holding non-partisan elections in 1985, Zia appointed Muhammad Khan Junejo as the Prime Minister. He acquired greater powers as president via the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. Junejo signed the Geneva Accords in 1988 against Zia’s wishes, and called for an inquiry into the Ojhri Camp disaster.

Zia dismissed the Junejo government and announced fresh elections in November 1988. He was killed along with several of his top military officials and two American diplomats in a mysterious plane crash near Bahawalpur on 17 August 1988.

Zia remains a polarizing figure in Pakistan’s history, credited for preventing wider Soviet incursions into the region as well as economic prosperity, but decried for weakening democratic institutions and passing laws encouraging religious intolerance.

Early life: he was born in a Punjabi Arain family in Jullunder, Punjab, India, on 12 August 1924,  being the second child of Muhammad Akbar who worked as a staff clerk in the Indian Army GHQ of British Armed Forces in Delhi prior to independence in 1947.

Zia completed his initial education in Simla and attended St. Stephen’s College, Delhi,  for his graduation in History in 1943. He joined the British Indian Army the same year. He married Shafiq Jahan in 1950 who died on 6 January 1996. Zia is survived by his sons and daughters:

  • Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq, (born 1953): who went into politics and became a cabinet minister in the government of Nawaz Sharif
  • Anwar-ul-Haq (born 1960)
  • Daughter Zain (born 1972), a special needs child
  • Daughter Rubina Saleem married to a Pakistani banker and lives in the United States since 1980
  • Daughter Quratulain Zia who currently lives in London, and is married to Pakistani doctor, Adnan Majid.

Military service

 

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General Zia-ul-Haq (centre-left, second row) marching with Chairman Joint Chiefs General Muhammad Sharif at PMA, 1977

Zia was commissioned in the British Indian Army with the 25th Cavalry on 12 May 1943 after graduating from the Officer Training School Mhow, and fought against Japanese forces in Burma in World War II. After Pakistan gained its independence in 1947, Zia joined the newly formed Pakistan Army as a Major in the Guides Cavalry,  Frontier Force Regiment. He trained in the United States during 1962–1964 at the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He returned to take over as Directing Staff (DS) at Command and Staff College, Quetta. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Zia was a tank commander.

He was stationed in Jordan from 1967 to 1970 as a Brigadier, helping in the training of Jordanian soldiers, as well as leading the training mission into battle during the Black September operations against the Palestine Liberation Organization as commander of Jordanian 2nd Division. This proved crucial to King Hussein’s remaining in power. By 1973, as Major General Zia was commanding the 1st Armoured Division at Multan.

On promotion as Lieutenant General, he was appointed commander of the II Strike Corps at Multan in 1975. It was during this time that Zia invited Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Armoured Corps at Multan, using his tailor to stitch the army blue patrol uniform for him. The next day, Bhutto climbed into a tank and engaged a target which he obviously did not miss. After the function, Zia expressed his loyalty to Bhutto. On 1 March 1976, Bhutto approved Lieutenant-General Zia as Chief of Army Staff and elevated to four-star general rank.

This promotion was ahead of a number of more senior officers and was politically motivated by Bhutto, who saw Zia as firmly religious and an apolitical military figure. This was the motive of future Prime minister Nawaz Sharif when he promoted Pervez Musharraf as Chief of Army Staff in 1998.

At the time of nomination of the successor to outgoing Chief of Army Staff General Tikka Khan, the Lieutenant Generals in order of seniority were:

  1. Muhammad Shariff
  2. Akbar Khan
  3. Aftab Ahmed
  4. Azmat Baksh Awan
  5. Ibrahim Akram
  6. Abdul Majeed Malik
  7. Ghulam Jilani Khan
  8. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.

Bhutto chose the junior most, superseding seven senior lieutenant-generals. However, the senior most at the time, Lieutenant-General Mohammad Shariff was promoted to General, and made the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, a constitutional post. Zia never called Bhutto “Mr. Prime Minister” but called him “sir” when speaking to him.

Planning of coup: Bhutto began facing considerable criticism and increasing unpopularity as his term progressed; the democratic socialists alliance which had previously allied with Bhutto began to ease off as time progressed, initially targeting leader of the opposition Wali Khan and the opposition National Awami Party (NAP). Despite the ideological similarity of the two parties, the clash of egos both inside and outside the National Assembly became increasingly fierce, starting with the Federal government’s decision to oust the NAP provincial government in Balochistan Province for alleged secessionist activities and culminating in the banning of the party and arrest of much of its leadership after the death of a close lieutenant of Bhutto, Hayat Sherpao, in a bomb blast in Peshawar.

Civil disorder against Bhutto: Dissidence increased within the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the murder of Ahmed Raza Kasuri’s father led to public outrage and intra-party hostility as Bhutto was accused of masterminding the crime. PPP leaders such as Ghulam Mustafa Khar openly condemned Bhutto and called for protests against his regime. The political crisis in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan intensified as civil liberties remained suspended, and an estimated 100,000 troops were deployed there who were accused of abusing human rights and killing large numbers of civilians.

1977 Parliamentary elections: On 8 January 1977 a large number of opposition political parties grouped to form the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). Bhutto called fresh elections, and PNA participated fully in those elections. They managed to contest the elections jointly even though there were grave splits in views within the party. The PNA faced defeat but did not accept the results, alleging that the election had been rigged. They proceeded to boycott the provincial elections which were held amidst low voter turnout. Amidst an opposition boycott, the PNA declared the newly elected Bhutto government as illegitimate.

Coup d’état (Operation Fair Play): Soon, all the opposition leaders called for the overthrow of Bhutto’s regime. Political and civil disorder intensified, which led to more unrest. On 21 April 1977, Bhutto imposed martial law in the major cities of Karachi, Lahore and Hyderabad. However, a compromise agreement between Bhutto and opposition was ultimately reported. Zia planned the coup d’état carefully, as he knew Bhutto had inside intelligence in the Pakistan Armed Forces, and many officers, including Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Zulfiqar Ali Khan and Major-General Tajammul Hussain Malik, GOC of 23rd Mountain Division, Major-General Naseerullah Babar, DG of Directorate-General for the Military Intelligence (DGMO) and Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan, were loyal to Bhutto.

The coup, (Operation Fair Play) occurred in the small hours of 5 July 1977. Before the announcement of any agreement, Bhutto and members of his cabinet were arrested by the military police under the order of Zia. Bhutto tried to call Zia but all telephone lines were disconnected. When Zia spoke to him later, he reportedly told Bhutto that he was sorry that he had been forced to perform such an “unpleasant task”. Zia and his military government portrayed the coup as a “spontaneous response to a difficult situation“, but his response was a complete contradiction. Soon after the coup, Zia told the British journalist Edward Behr of Newsweek:

I [Zia] am the only man who took this decision [Fair Play] and I did so on 1700 Hrs on 4[th] July after hearing the press statement which indicated that the talks between Mr. Bhutto and the opposition had broken down. Had an agreement been reached between them, I would certainly never had done what I did.— General Zia-ul-Haq, statement given to Newsweek.

However, Zia’s Chief of Army Staff General Khalid Mahmud Arif contradicted Zia’s statement when Arif noted that the coup had already been planned, and the senior leadership of Pakistan Armed Forces had solid information. Arif met with Bhutto on an emergency basis, stressing and urging Bhutto to “rush negotiations with the opposition“. By all independent experts, the talks had not broken down even though the coup was very much in the offing. Zia further argued that Fair Play against Bhutto had been necessitated by the prospect of a civil war that Bhutto had been planning, by distributing weapons to his supporters. However, Arif strongly rejected Zia’s remarks  and stated that no evidence of weapons was found or recovered at any of the party’s election offices. The military junta did not prosecute Bhutto on the charge of planning civil war.

Immediately, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Shariff announced his and the navy’s strong support for Zia and his military government. But the Chief of Air Staff Air Marshall Zulfikar Ali Khan remained unsupportive while the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Muhammad Shariff remained neutral, but he silently expressed his support to Prime minister Zulfikar Bhutto.In 1978, Zia pressured President Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry to appoint General Anwar Shamim as Chief of Air Staff, and Admiral Karamat Rahman Niazi as Chief of Naval Staff in 1979, making the Admiral the highest ranking officer and principal military adviser overlooking all of the inter-services, including the Chiefs of Staff of the respected forces.  In 1979, the Chiefs of Army, Navy, and the Air Force, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff validated the coup as constitutional and legal under the circumstances, pledging their support to Zia as well.

United States sponsorship

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President Ronald Reagan and Bill Clark meeting with President Zia-ul-Haq, 1982.

The United States, notably the Reagan Administration, was an ardent supporter of Zia’s military regime and a close ally of Pakistan’s conservative-leaning ruling military establishment. The Reagan administration declared Zia’s regime as the “front line” ally of the United States in the fight against the threat of Communism. American legislators and senior officials most notably were:

  • Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • Henry Kissinger
  • Charlie Wilson
  • Joanne Herring

the civilian intelligence officers:

  • Michael Pillsbury
  • Gust Avrakotos

and senior US military officials:

  • General John William Vessey
  • General Herbert M. Wassom

had been long associated with the Zia military regime and  had made frequent trips to Pakistan. The American conservatism of Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party influenced Zia to adopt the idea of Islamic conservatism as the primary focus of his military government, enforcing the Islamic religious practice in the country.

The socialist orientation had greatly alarmed the capitalist forces in Pakistan as well as alarm in United States which feared the loss of Pakistan as a cold war ally. Many of Pakistan’s political scientists and historians widely suspected that the riots and coup against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was orchestrated with help of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the United States Government because of the United States growing fear of Bhutto’s socialist policies which were seen as sympathetic towards the Soviet Union and had built a bridge allowing Soviet Union to be involved in Pakistan; access through Pakistan’s warm water port.

The United States was unable to gain this access since Pakistan’s establishment in 1947. Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark widely suspected United States’ involvement in bringing down the Bhutto’s government, and  accused the United States’ Government after attending the trial. On the other hand, the United States denied any role in Bhutto’s fall, and argued that it was Bhutto who had alienated himself with them for five years. Witnessing the fall of Bhutto, one US diplomat in American Embassy in Islamabad wrote that:

During Bhutto’s five years in Pakistan’s helm, Bhutto had retained an emotional hold on the poor masses who had voted him overwhelmingly in 1970s general elections. At the same time, however, Bhutto had many enemies. The socialist economics and nationalization of major private industries during his first two years on office had badly upsets the Business circles … An ill-considered decision to take over the wheat-milling, rice-husking, sugar mills, and cotton-gaining, industries in July of 1976 had angered the small business owners and traders. Both leftists – socialists and communists, intellectuals, students, and trade unionists— felt betrayed by Bhutto’s shift to centre-right wing conservative economics policies and by his growing collaboration with powerful feudal lords, Pakistan’s traditional power brokers. After 1976, Bhutto’s aggressive authoritarian personal style and often high-handed way of dealing with political rivals, dissidents, and opponents had also alienated many…

Postponement of elections and call for accountability: After assuming power as Chief Martial Law Administrator, Zia shortly appeared on national television promising to hold new and neutral parliamentary elections within the next 90 days.

My sole aim is to organize free and fair elections which would be held in October this year. Soon after the polls, power will be transferred to the elected representatives of the people. I give a solemn assurance that I will not deviate from this schedule.

He also stated that the Constitution of Pakistan had not been abrogated, but temporarily suspended. Zia did not trust the civilian institutions and legislators to ensure the country’s integrity and sovereignty therefore, in October 1977; he announced the postponement of the electoral plan and decided to start an accountability process for the politicians. On television, Zia strongly defended his decision for postponing the elections and demanded that “scrutiny of political leaders who had engaged in malpractice in the past“. Thus, the PNA adopted its policy of “retribution first, elections later“. Zia’s policy severely tainted his credibility as many saw the broken promise as malicious.

Another motive was,  Zia widely suspected that once out of power, the size of the Pakistan Peoples Party rallies would swell and better performance in elections was possible. This led to a request for postponement of elections by the right-wing Islamists as well as left-wing socialists, formerly allied with Bhutto, who displaced Bhutto in the first place.

Zia dispatched an intelligence unit, known as ISI’s Political Wing, sending Brigadier Taffazul Hussain Siddiqiui, to Bhutto’s province of Sindh, to assess whether people would accept martial law. The political wing (ISI) also contacted several right-wing Islamists and conservatives, promising an election with PNA power sharing the government with Zia. Zia successfully divided and separated the secular forces from right-wing Islamists and conservatives, and later purged each member of the secular front.

A Disqualification Tribunal was formed, and several individuals who had been members of parliament were charged with malpractice and disqualified from participating in politics at any level for the next seven years. A white paper document was issued, incriminating the deposed Bhutto government on several counts. It is reported by senior officers that when Zia met federal secretaries for the first time as leader of the country after martial law, who  said “he does not possess the charisma of Bhutto, personality of Ayub Khan or the legitimacy of Liaquat Ali Khan” thereby implying how can he be marketed.

Reign as Chief Martial Law Administrator: After deposing Prime Minister Bhutto on 5 July 1977, Zia-ul-Haq declared martial law, and appointed himself Chief Martial Law Administrator, which he remained until becoming president on 16 September 1978.

The Doctrine of Necessity: Nusrat Bhutto, the wife of the deposed Prime Minister, filed a suit against Zia’s military regime, challenging the validity of the July 1977 military coup. The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled, in what would later be known as the Doctrine of Necessity (not to be confused with the 1954 Doctrine of Necessity) that, given the dangerously unstable political situation of the time, Zia’s overthrowing of the Bhutto government was legal on the grounds of necessity. The judgement tightened the general’s hold on the government. When Bhutto appeared personally to argue his appeal in the supreme court, he almost affirmed his concurrence with the judges present for not letting off a judgement without imposing some conditions on ruling military government.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Trial: Former elected Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was arrested during the coup but released shortly afterwards. Upon his release, Bhutto travelled the country amid adulatory crowds of PPP supporters. On 3 September 1977, he was arrested again by the Army on charges of authorizing the murder of a political opponent in March 1974. The trial proceedings began 24 October 1977 and lasted five months. On 18 March 1978, Bhutto was declared guilty of murder and was sentenced to death. In the words of Aftab Kazi and Roedad Khan, Zia hated Bhutto and had used inappropriate language and insults to describe him and his colleagues. The Supreme Court ruled four to three in favour of execution. The High Court had given him the death sentence on charges of the murder of the father of Ahmed Raza Kasuri, a dissident PPP politician. Despite many clemency appeals from foreign leaders requesting Zia to commute Bhutto’s death sentence, Zia dismissed the appeals and upheld the death sentence. On 4 April 1979, Bhutto was hanged, after the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence as passed by the Lahore High Court.

The hanging of an elected prime minister by a military was condemned by the international community and by lawyers and jurists across Pakistan. Bhutto’s trial was controversial.

Bhutto’s last personal appearance and statements in the Supreme Court were not a long defence of his conduct; he also made some matters clear. He mentioned:

  • the words of “heir” for his son “Mir Murtaza Bhutto”.
  • He remarked that he has views similar to a Sunni, though he was Shia albeit a non-practicing one.
  • He effectively cast doubt on the reliability of the “star” witness against him i.e. Masood Mahmood who was a UK-trained lawyer and not merely a police officer and FSF chief.
  • He mentioned repeatedly the Lahore Ahmedi connection of Masood Mahmood in his testimony.
  • He repeatedly brought the subject of his maltreatment in the death cell.
  • Bhutto made it abundantly clear, even though indirectly that he wanted either freedom or death, and appreciated Khar and his lawyer Yahya Bakhtiar.

Appointment of Martial Law Administrators: The adhoc appointments of senior justices at the Supreme Court of Pakistan were one of the earliest and major steps taken by the military government under General Zia-ul-Haq. Zia recognized that since, Bhutto had good equations with the governments of Soviet Union, China, and all important western countries, excluding the United States. It was a formidable array of sovereigns, presidents and prime ministers and the PPP can be forgiven for making a political miscalculation.

After calling for martial law, Zia pressured President Fazal Illahi to appoint Justice Sheikh Anwar-ul Haq as Chief Justice of Pakistan on 23 September 1977.  Chief Justice Yaqub Ali was removed from the office after the latter agreed to re-hear the petition filed at the Supreme Court by the Peoples Party’s Chairwoman Nusrat Bhutto on 20 September 1977. After Justice Yaqub Ali’s removal, Bhutto objected to the inclusion of the new Chief Justice, Sheikh Anwar-ul-Haq, as chief justice of the Bench on the grounds that by accepting the office of acting president during the absence of Zia-ul-Haq from the country, he had compromised his impartial status. Bhutto also stated that the Chief Justice in his public statements had been critical of his government in the recent past.

The objection was over-ruled by the Chief Justice Anwar-ul Haq himself, and Bhutto’s case was again heard by him as the Bench’s lead judge, and who presided over the whole case. Shortly, after Zia’s return, another judge Mushtaq Ahmad gained Zia and Anwar-ul-Haq’s support, and was elevated as the adhoc Chief Justice of Lahore High Court; he was  part of the bench which retained the death sentence  given to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto even though he was not declared guilty of the murder of the political opponent. In 1979, when Zia departed for Saudi Arabia, Justice Haq served as interim president of Pakistan.

Martial law governors:

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Zia presenting the Hilal-i-Imtiaz to Shamim Alam Khan.

Martial Law Administrator of Baluchistan: The Zia regime largely made use of installing high-profile military generals to carte blanche provincial administration under martial law. Zia’s Guides Cavalry comrade and foul-mouth Lieutenant-General Fazle Haque was appointed Martial Law Administrator of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province (NWFP). Lieutenant-General Fazle Haque was considered vocal and a strong.

  • General Haque, commander of the XI Corps, and commanding general responsible for fighting a secret war against Soviet Union.
  • Lieutenant-General S.M. Abbasi appointed Martial Law Administrator of Sindh Province; his tenure too saw civil disorder amid student riots.
  • Lieutenant-General Ghulam Jilani Khan Martial Law Administrator Punjab province made headway in beautifying Lahore extending infrastructure, and muting political opposition. The ascent of Nawaz Sharif to Chief Minister of Punjab was largely due to General Jilani’s sponsorship.
  • Lieutenant-General Rahimuddin Khan was appointed Martial Law Administrator of Balochistan Province; saw the disbanding of the Baloch insurgency, the containment of Afghan Mujahideen, as well as the construction of nuclear test sites in the Chagai District.

Zia’s tenure saw the influx of heroin, sophisticated weaponry and countless refugees in from neighbouring Afghanistan. Law and order deterioration worsened after he appointed Mr. Junejo as Prime minister in 1985. The government did not find any evidence of Zia having a relationship in the heroin trade, but it has been considered.

Zia benefited from the extremely capable martial law administrators who previously had worked with the military governments of former president Yahya Khan and Ayub Khan in the 1960s. Of the notable officers was General Khalid Mahmood Arif, Chief of Army Staff, and Admiral Mohammad Shariff, Chairman Joint Chiefs. Both were noted by Western governments as highly capable and had wide experience from the military government of the East-Pakistan and remained General Zia’ confidential members.

Both Admiral Sharif and General Arif handled the matters efficiently if the matters were out of control by Zia. In 1979, Zia influenced the Navy’s Promotion Board several times after he succeeded first in the appointment of Admiral Karamat Nazi as Chief of Naval Staff in 1979, and Admiral Tarik Kamal Khan, also as  chief of naval staff, in 1983.  On his request, President Fazal Illahi approved the appointment of General Anwar Shamim as Chief of Air Staff and following President Fazal Illahi’s resignation, Zia appointed Shamim as the Deputy Chief Martial Law Administrator. In matters of  national security, General Zia took chief of air staff and chief of naval staff in confidence. Zia’s appointment in inter-services was crucial for his military government and measures to ensure the loyalty of Navy and Air Force to himself and his new military government.

Assumption of the post of President of Pakistan

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General Zia-ul-Haq during a meeting with United States dignitaries

Despite the dismissal of most of the Bhutto government, President Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry was persuaded to continue in office as a figurehead.After completing his term, and despite Zia’s insistence to accept an extension as President, Chaudhry resigned, and Zia took the office of President of Pakistan on 16 September 1978. Thus his position was cemented as the undisputed ruler of the country. Over the next six years, Zia issued several decrees which amended the constitution and greatly expanded his power. Most significantly, the Revival of Constitution of 1973 Order granted Zia the power to dissolve the National Assembly virtually at will.

The Military Government of General Zia-ul-Haq

Presidential cabinet Officer holder  Term
President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq 1978–1988
Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo 1985–1988
Foreign Affairs Agha Shahi 1977–1982
Lt.General Yaqub Khan 1982–1992
Treasury Ghulam Ishaq Khan 1977-1985
DrMahbub-ul-Haq 1985-1988
Law, Justice Sharifuddin Pirzada 1977–1988
Interior Air Marshal Inamul Haq Khan 1977-1978
Mahmoud Haroon 1978-1984
Lt.General Farooq Lodhi 1984-1985
Aslam Khan 1985-1987
Wasim Sajjad 1987-1988
Defence Lt.General Ghulam Jilani Khan 1977–1980
Maj.General Rahim Khan 1980-1988
Science Advisor  Zahid Ali Akbar 1977-1983
Munir Ahmad Khan 1983-1988
Health  Lt.General Lt.General Vajid Ali Khan 1977–1988
Media broadcasting Brig.General Siddique Salik 1977–1988
Internal Security Roedad Khan 1977–1988
Public Service Admiral Mohammad Sharif 1980–1988
Communications Admiral Tariq Kamal Khan 1986–1988
Economic Admiral Karamat Rahman Niazi 1983–1988
Intelligence Maj.General Rao Farman Ali 1983–1988

Political structural changes

Although ostensibly only holding office until free elections could be held, General Zia, like the previous military governments, disproved of the lack of discipline and orderliness that often accompanies multiparty “parliamentary democracy.” He preferred a “presidential” form of government and a system of decision making by technical experts, or “technocracy”. His first replacement for the parliament or National Assembly was a Majlis-e-Shoora, or “consultative council.” After banning all political parties in 1979 he disbanded Parliament and at the end of 1981 set up the majlis, which was to act as a sort of board of advisers to the President and assist with the process of Islamisation. The 350 members of the Shoora were to be nominated by the President and possessed only the power to consult with him, and in reality served only to endorse decisions already taken by the government. Most members of the Shoora were intellectuals, scholars, ulema, journalists, economists, and professionals in different fields.

Zia’s parliament and his military government reflect the idea of “military-bureaucratic technocracy” (MBT) where professionals, engineers, and high-profile military officers were initially part of his military government. His antipathy for the politicians led the promotion of bureaucratic-technocracy which was seen a strong weapon of countering the politicians and their political strongholds. Senior statesman and technocrats were included,

  • Physicist-turned diplomat Agha Shahi
  • Jurist Sharifuddin Peerzada
  • Corporate leader Nawaz Sharif
  • Economist Mahbub ul Haq
  • Senior statesman Aftab Kazi, Roedad Khan
  • Chemist-turned diplomat Ghulam Ishaq Khan were a few of the leading technocratic figures in his military government.

Referendum of 1984: After Bhutto’s execution, momentum to hold elections began to mount both internationally and within Pakistan. But before handing over power to elected representatives, Zia-ul-Haq attempted to secure his position as the head of state. A referendum was held on 19 December 1984 with the option being to elect or reject the General as the future President, the wording of the referendum making a vote against Zia appear to be a vote against Islam. According to official figures 95% of votes were cast in favour of Zia, however only 10% of the electorate participated in the referendum.

1985 elections and constitutional amendments: After holding the 1984 referendum, Zia succumbed to international pressure and gave permission to election commission to hold national wide general elections but without political parties in February 1985. Most of the major opposing political parties decided to boycott the elections but election results showed that many victors belonged to one party or the other. Critics complained that ethnic and sectarian mobilization filled the void left by banning political parties (or making elections “non-partisan”), to the detriment of national integration.

The General worked to give himself the power to dismiss the Prime Minister dissolve the National Assembly, appoint provincial governors and the chief of the armed forces. His Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo was known as unassuming and soft spoken but was a Sindhi.

Before handing over the power to the new government and lifting the martial law, Zia got the new legislature to retroactively accept all of Zia’s actions of the past eight years, including his coup of 1977. He also managed to get several amendments passed, most notably the Eighth Amendment, which granted “reserve powers” to the president to dissolve the Parliament. However, this amendment considerably reduced the power he’d previously granted himself to dissolve the legislature, at least on paper.The text of the amendment permitted Zia to dissolve the Parliament only if the government had been toppled by a vote of no confidence and it was obvious that no one could form a government or the government could not function in a constitutional manner.

Economic policy: In general Zia gave economic development and policy a fairly low priority (aside from Islamisation) and delegated its management to technocrats such as Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Aftab Qazi and Vaseem Jaffrey.

However, between 1977 and 1986, the country experienced an average annual growth in the GNP of 6.8%—the highest in the world at that time—thanks in large part to remittances from the overseas workers, rather than government policy. The first year of Zia’s government coincided with a dramatic rise in remittances, which totalled $3.2 billion/year for most of the 1980s:

  • this accounted for 10 percent of Pakistan’s GDP
  • 45 percent of its current account receipts
  • 40 percent of total foreign exchange earnings

By the time General Zia had initiated the coup against Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto, the economic cycle process of nationalization program was completed. The socialist orientation and nationalization program was slowly reversed; the idea of corporatisation was heavily favoured by President Zia-ul-Haq to direct the authoritarianism in the nationalized industries. One of his well-known and earliest initiatives were aimed to Islamize the national economy which featured the interest-free economic cycle. No actions towards privatizing the industries were ordered by President Zia; only three steel mill industries were returned to its previous owners. By the end of 1987, the finance ministry had begun studying the process of engaging the gradual privatization and economic liberalization.

Soviet-Afghan War and Strategic initiatives: On 25 December 1979, the Soviet Union (USSR) ‘intervened’ in Afghanistan. Following this invasion, Zia chaired a meeting and was asked by several cabinet members to refrain from interfering in the war, owing to the vastly superior military power of the USSR. Zia, however, was ideologically opposed to the idea of communism taking over a neighbouring country, supported by the fear of Soviet advancement into Pakistan, particularly Balochistan, in search of warm waters, and made no secret about his intentions of monetarily and militarily aiding the Afghan resistance (the Mujahideen) with major assistance from the United States.

During this meeting, the Director-General of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) then-Lieutenant-General Akhtar Abdur Rahman advocated for a covert operation in Afghanistan by arming Islamic extremists. During this meeting, General Rahman was heard saying: “Kabul must burn! Kabul must burn!”, and mastered the idea of a proxy war in Afghanistan. After this meeting, Zia authorised this operation under General Rahman, and it was later merged with Operation Cyclone, a programme funded by the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA.

In November 1982, Zia travelled to Moscow to attend the funeral of Leonid Brezhnev, the late General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and new Secretary General Yuri Andropov met with Zia there. Andropov expressed indignation over Pakistan’s support of the Afghan resistance against the Soviet Union and her satellite state, Soviet Afghanistan. Zia took his hand and assured him, “General Secretary, believe me, Pakistan wants nothing but very good relations with the Soviet Union”. According to Gromyko, Zia’s sincerity convinced them, but Zia’s actions didn’t live up to his words.

Zia reversed many of Bhutto’s foreign policy initiatives by first establishing stronger links with the United States, Japan, and the Western world. Zia broken off relations with the Socialist state and State capitalism became his major economic policy. US politician Charlie Wilson claims that Zia directly dealt with the Israelis, working to build covert relations with them, allowing the country to actively participate in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Helped by ISI, the Mossad channeled Soviet reversed engineered weapons to Afghanistan. In Wilson’s own word, Zia is reported to have remarked to the Israeli intelligence service: “Just don’t put any stars of David on the boxes”.

Consolidation of atomic bomb programme: One of the earliest initiatives taken by Zia in 1977, was to militarise the integrated atomic energy programme which was founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972. During the first stages, the programme was under the control of Bhutto and the Directorate for Science, under Science Advisor Dr. Mubashir Hassan,who was heading the civilian committee that supervised the construction of the facilities and laboratories. This atomic bomb project had no boundaries with Munir Ahmad Khan and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan leading their efforts separately and reported to Bhutto and his science adviser Dr. Hassan who had little interest in the atomic bomb project. Major-General Zahid Ali Akbar, an engineering officer, had little role in the atomic project; Zia responded by taking over the programme under military control and disbanded the civilian directorate when he ordered the arrest of Hassan. This whole giant nuclear energy project was transferred into the administrative hands of Major-General Akbar who was soon made the Lieutenant-General and Engineer-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers to deal with the authorities whose co-operation was required. Akbar consolidated the entire project by placing the scientific research under military control, setting boundaries and goals. Akbar proved to be an extremely capable officer in the matters of science and technology when he aggressively led the development of nuclear weapons under Munir Ahmad Khan and Abdul Qadeer Khan in a matter of five years

By the time, Zia assumed control, the research facilities became fully functional and 90% of the work on atom bomb project was completed. Both the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) had built the extensive research infrastructure started by Bhutto. Akbar’s office was shifted to Army Combatant General Headquarters (GHQ) and Akbar guided Zia on key matters of nuclear science and atomic bomb production. He became the first engineering officer to have acknowledged Zia about the success of this energy project into a fully matured programme. On the recommendation of Akbar, Zia approved the appointment of Munir Ahmad Khan as the scientific director of the atomic bomb project, as Zia was convinced by Akbar that civilian scientists under Munir Khan’s directorship were at their best to counter international pressure. This was proved when the PAEC conducted the cold-fission test of a fission device, codename Kirana-I on 11 March 1983 at the Weapon-Testing Laboratories-I, under the leadership of weapon-testing laboratory’s director Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad. Lieutenant-General Zahid Akbar went to GHQ and notified Zia about the success of this test. The PAEC responded by conducting several cold-tests throughout the 1980s, a policy also continued by Benazir Bhutto in the 1990s. According to the reference in the book, “Eating Grass”, Zia was so deeply convinced of the infiltration of Western and American moles and spies into the project, that he extended his role in the atomic bomb, which reflected extreme “paranoia”, in both his personal and professional life. He virtually had PAEC and KRL separated from each other and made critical administrative decisions rather than putting scientists in charge of the aspects of the atomic programmes. His actions spurred innovation in the atomic bomb project and an intense secrecy and security culture permeated PAEC and KRL.

Nuclear diplomacy: Unlike Bhutto, who faced rogue criticism and a heated diplomatic war with the United States throughout the 1970s, Zia took different diplomatic approaches to counter the international pressure. From 1979 to 1983, the country was made a subject of attack by international organisation for not signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); Zia deftly neutralised international pressure by tagging Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme to the nuclear designs of the neighbouring Indian nuclear programme. Zia, with the help of Munir Ahmad Khan and Agha Shahi, Foreign Minister, drew a five-point proposal as a practical rejoinder to world pressure on Pakistan to sign the NPT; the points including the renouncing of the use of nuclear weapons:

“(sic)…Either General Zia did not know the facts about country’s atomic bomb project… Or General Zia was the “most superb and patriotic liar I have ever met….”— Vernon Walters, 1981

Following the success of Operation Opera— in which an Israeli Air Force strike took place to destroy the Iraqi nuclear programme in 1981— suspicion grew in Pakistan that the Indian Air Force had similar plans for Pakistan. In a private meeting with General Anwar Shamim, then-Chief of Air Staff, Zia had notified General Shamim that the Indian Air Force had plans to infiltrate Pakistan’s nuclear energy project, citing solid evidence. Shamim felt that the Air Force was unable to divert such attacks, therefore, he advised Zia to use diplomacy through Munir Ahmad Khan to divert the attacks. At Vienna, Munir Ahmad Khan met with Indian physicist Raja Ramanna and notified him that such an attack would provoke a nuclear war between the two countries. In the meantime, Shamim decided to start the programme to acquire the F-16 Falcons and A-5 Fanton jets for the Pakistan Air Force. Shamim launched Operation Sentinel- a counter operation that thwarted the Israeli Air Force attempt to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear energy project— forced Indian Premier Indira Gandhi to held talks with Pakistan on nuclear issues and directed a high delegation to Pakistan where both countries pledged not to assist or attack each other’s facilities. In 1985, following the induction of the F-16 Falcons and A-5 Fantons, Shamim commissioned the Air Force Strategic Command to protect and battle the weapons of mass destruction.

In 1977, Zia ultimately adopted the policy of “Nuclear opacity” to deliberately deny the atomic bomb programmes. This policy of nuclear ambiguity was adopted after witnessing the success of Israel’s nuclear programme and on multiple occasions Zia broke his words and promises concerning the nature of the country’s atomic bomb project. On nuclear policy issues, Zia deliberately misguided the United States and concealed classified information from the outside world. The United States trusted Zia’s sincerity and his promises made to the United States; Zia gave assurances to the United States not to produce weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) above a 5% level.  However, the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vernon Walter, confronted Zia on his secret trip to Pakistan in October 1981. Confronted with the evidence, Zia acknowledged that the information “must be true,” but then denied everything, leading Walters to conclude that: “either Zia “did not know the facts” or was the “most superb and patriotic liar I have ever met...”

Nuclear proliferation: Soon after the coup, the clandestine nuclear energy project was no longer a secret to the outside world. Part of his strategy was the promotion of nuclear proliferation in anti-western states (such as North Korea, Iran, and China) to aid their own nuclear ambitions, to divert international attention which was difficult.

In 1981, Zia contracted with China when he sent weapon-grade uranium there and built the centrifuge laboratory which increasingly enhanced the Chinese nuclear programme. This act encouraged Abdul Qadeer Khan, who allegedly tried to aid the Libyan nuclear programme but because Libya–Pakistan relations were strained, Khan was warned of serious consequences.  This policy envisaged the deflection of  international pressure onto these countries, and Pakistan would be spared the international community’s wrath.

After Zia’s death, his successor General Mirza Aslam Beg, as Chief of Army Staff, encouraged Abdul Qadeer Khan and gave him a free hand to work with some like-minded nations such as North Korea, Iran and Libya which also wanted to pursue their nuclear ambitions for a variety of reasons. In 2004, Abdul Qadeer Khan’s dismissal from the nuclear weapons programme was considered a face saving exercise by the Pakistan Armed Forces and political establishment under Chief of Army Staff and President General Pervez Musharraf.

Zia’s nuclear proliferation policy added an impetus to the anti-western states, North Korea and Iran. In the 2000s (decade), North Korea was targeted by the international community for its on-going nuclear programme.  DRNK attempted to aid the Syrian and Iranian nuclear programmes in the 1990s. The North Korean connection to the Syrian nuclear programme was exposed in 2007 by Israel in its successful strategic operation, Orchard, which resulted in the sabotage of the Syrian nuclear programme as well as deaths of 10 senior North-Korean scientists who were aiding the nuclear program.

Expansion: While Zia had removed the Bhutto element in the nuclear energy project, he did not completely disband Bhutto’s policy on nuclear weapons. After the retirement of Zahid Ali Akbar, Zia transferred control of the nuclear weapons programme to Bhutto’s close aide Munir Ahmad Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. Soon, Zia promoted Khan as the technical director of the entire programme as well as appointing him the science adviser. With support of handpicked  Prime Minister Muhammad Juneijo, Zia sanctioned the launch of the 50 Megawatt (MW) heavy water plutonium production reactor, known as Khushab-I, at Khushab in 1985.

He took initiatives to launched the space projects as spin-off to nuclear project. Zia appointed nuclear engineer Salim Mehmud as the Administrator of the Space Research Commission. Zia also launched the work on the country’s first satellite, Badr-1, a military satellite. In 1987, In 1985, Zia launched a clandestine aerospace project, the Integrated Missile Research Programme under General Anwar Shamim, and later under Lieutenant-General Talat Masood in 1987.

International standing enhancement and resumption of aid: Zia’s international standing greatly rose after his declaration to fight the Soviet invaders. Pakistan–United States relations took a much more positive turn. US President Jimmy Carter and his Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance cut off US aid to Pakistan on grounds that Pakistan had not made sufficient progress on the nuclear issue. On 25 December 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and Carter offered Pakistan $325 million in aid over three years. Zia rejected this as “peanuts.” Carter also signed the funding in 1980 that allowed less than $50 million a year to go to the Mujahideen.

After Ronald Reagan came to office in 1980, all this changed, due to the President’s new priorities and remarkably effective effort by Congressman Charles Wilson, Joanne Herring, and CIA Afghan Desk Chief Gust Avrakotos to increase the funding for Operation Cyclone. Aid to the Afghan resistance, and to Pakistan, increased substantially, finally reaching $1 billion. The United States faced a rival superpower looking to create another Communist bloc, now engaged Zia to fight a US-aided war by proxy in Afghanistan against the Soviets.

Fighting the war by proxy: Zia now found himself in a position to demand billions of dollars in aid for the Mujahideen from the Western states, famously dismissing a United States proposed $325 million aid package as “peanuts“. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and Special Service Group now became actively involved in the conflict, and in co-operation with the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Army Special Forces supported the armed struggle against the Soviets.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan succeeded Jimmy Carter as President of the United States. Reagan was completely against the Soviet Union and its communist satellites, dubbing it “the evil empire“. Reagan now increased financial aid heading for Pakistan. In 1981, the Reagan Administration sent the first of 40 F-16 jet fighters to the Pakistanis. But the Soviets kept control of the Afghan skies until the Mujahideen received Stinger missiles in 1986. From that moment on, the mujahedeen’s strategic position steadily improved.

The Soviets declared a policy of national reconciliation. In January they announced that a Soviet withdrawal was no longer linked to the makeup of the Afghan government remaining behind. Pakistan, with the massive extra-governmental and covert backing from the largest operation ever mounted by the CIA and financial support of Saudi Arabia, therefore, played a large part in the eventual withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988.

The war legacy: The rise of the illicit drug trade and its spread through Pakistan to the rest of the world increased tremendously during the Soviet-Afghan war. Afghanistan’s drug industry began to take off after the Soviet invasion in 1979. Desperate for cash with which to buy weapons, various elements in the anti-Communist resistance turned to the drug trade. This was tolerated if not condoned by their American sponsors such as the CIA.

Sharia‘ in Pakistan: In 1977, prior to the coup, the drinking and selling of wine by Muslims, along with nightclubs, and horse racing was banned by Prime Minister Bhutto in an effort to stem the tide of street Islamisation.

Zia went much further, committing himself to enforce Nizam-e-Mustafa (“Rule of the prophet” or Islamic System, i.e. establishing an Islamic state and sharia law), a significant turn from Pakistan’s predominantly secular law, inherited from the British.

In his first televised speech to the country as head of state Zia declared that

Pakistan which was created in the name of Islam will continue to survive only if it sticks to Islam. That is why I consider the introduction of [an] Islamic system as an essential prerequisite for the country.

In the past he complained, “Many a ruler did what they pleased in the name of Islam.”

Zia established “Sharia Benches” in each High Court (later the Federal Sharia Court) to judge legal cases using the teachings of the Quran and the Sunna, and to bring Pakistan’s legal statutes into alignment with Islamic doctrine.[Zia bolstered the influence of the ulama (Islamic clergy) and the Islamic parties. 10,000s of activists from the Jamaat-e-Islami party were appointed to government posts to ensure the continuation of his agenda after his passing. Conservative ulama (Islamic scholars) were added to the Council of Islamic Ideology. Islamisation was a sharp change from Bhutto’s original philosophical rationale captured in the slogan, “Food, clothing, and shelter”.In Zia’s view, socialist economics and a secular-socialist orientation served only to upset Pakistan’s natural order and weaken its moral fibre. General Zia defended his policies in an interview in 1979 given to British journalist Ian Stephens:

The basis of Pakistan was Islam. … Muslims of the subcontinent are a separate culture. It was on the Two-Nation Theory that this part was carved out of the Subcontinent as Pakistan…. Mr. Bhutto’s way of flourishing in this Society was by eroding its moral fiber. … by pitching students against teachers, children against their parents, landlord against tenants, workers against mill owners. [Pakistan has economic difficulties] because Pakistanis have been made to believe that one can earn without working. … We are going back to Islam not by choice but by the force of circumstances. It is not I or my government that is imposing Islam. It was what 99 percent of people wanted; the street violence against Bhutto reflected the people’s desire …— General Zia-ul-Haq

How much of Zia’s motivation came from piety and how much from political calculation is disputed. One author points out that Zia was conspicuously silent on the dispute between the heterodox Zikri and the ‘Ulama in Balochistan where he needed stability. Secular and leftist forces accused Zia of manipulating Islam for political ends. According to Nusrat Bhutto, former First Lady of Pakistan:

The … horrors of 1971 war … are (still) alive and vivid in the hearts and the minds of people of [Pakistan]…Therefore, General Zia insanely … used Islam … to ensure the survival of his own regime….— Nusrat Bhutto

How much success Zia had using state-sponsored Islamisation to strengthen national cohesion is also disputed:

  • Religious riots broke out in 1983 and 1984.
  • Sectarian divisions between Sunnis and Shia worsened over the issue of the 1979 Zakat ordinance
  • Differences in fiqh jurisprudence also arose in marriage and divorce, inheritance and wills, and imposition of hadd punishments.
  • Sunni Muslims; Deobandis and Barelvis also had disputes.. Zia favoured Deobandi doctrine and the Sufi pirs of Sindh (who were Barelvi) joined the anti-Zia Movement for the Restoration of Democracy.

Hudood Ordinance: In one of his first and most controversial measures to Islamize Pakistani society was the replacement of parts of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) with the 1979 “Hudood Ordinance.” (Hudood meaning limits or restrictions, as in limits of acceptable behaviour in Islamic law.) The Ordinance added new criminal offences of adultery and fornication to Pakistani law, and new punishments of whipping, amputation, and stoning to death.

For theft or robbery, the PPC punishments of imprisonment or fine, or both, were replaced by amputation of the right hand of the offender for theft, and amputation of the right hand and left foot for robbery. For Zina (extramarital sex) the provisions relating to adultery were replaced by the Ordinance with punishments of flogged 100 lashes for those unmarried offenders, and stoning to death for married offenders.

All these punishments were dependent on proof required for hadd being met. In practice the Hudd requirement—four Muslim men of good repute testifying as witness to the crime—was seldom met. As of 2014, no offender has been stoned or had limbs amputated by the Pakistani judicial system. To be found guilty of theft, zina, or drinking alcohol by less strict tazir standards—where the punishment was flogging and/or imprisonment—was common, and there have been many floggings.

More worrisome for human rights and women’s rights advocates, lawyers and politicians was the incarceration of thousands of rape victims on charges of zina.The onus of providing proof in a rape case rested with the woman herself. Uncorroborated testimony by women was inadmissible in Hudood crimes. If the victim/accuser was unable to prove her allegation, bringing the case to court was considered equivalent to a confession of sexual intercourse outside of lawful marriage. Despite this the ordinance remained in force until the Women’s Protection Bill was passed in 2006.

Although the Sharia punishments were imposed, the due process, witnesses, law of evidence, and prosecution system remained Anglo-Saxon. The hybridization of Pakistan penal code with Islamic laws was difficult because of the difference in the underlying logic of the two legal systems. PPC was kingly law, Hudood is a religious and community-based law.

Other sharia laws: Under Zia, the order for women to cover their heads while in public was implemented in public schools, colleges and state television. Women’s participation in sports and the performing arts was severely restricted. Following Sharia law, women’s legal testimony was given half the weight of a man’s, according to critics. Unlike men, women entering into legal contracts were required to have their signature witness by another person.

In 1980 the “Zakat and Ushr Ordinance, 1980” was implemented. The measure called for a 2.5% annual deduction from personal bank accounts on the first day of Ramadan, with Zia stating that the revenues would be used for poverty relief. Zakat committees were established to oversee distribution of the funds.

In 1981 interest payments were replaced by “profit and loss” accounts (though profit was thought to be simply interest by another name). Textbooks were overhauled to remove un-Islamic material, and un-Islamic books were removed from libraries. Eating and drinking during Ramadan was outlawed, attempts were made to enforce praying of salat five times a day.

Blasphemy ordinances: To outlaw blasphemy, the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) were amended through ordinances in 1980, 1982 and 1986. The 1980 law prohibited derogatory remarks against Islamic personages, and carried a three-year prison sentence. In 1982 the small Ahmadiyya religious minority were prohibited from saying or implying they were Muslims. In 1986 declaring anything implying disrespect to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Ahl al-Bayt (family members of Muhammad), Sahabah (companions of Muhammad) or Sha’ar-i-Islam (Islamic symbols) was made a cognisable offence, punishable with imprisonment or fine, or both.

Madrassa Expansion: Traditional religious madrassass in Pakistan received state sponsorship for the first time, under the General Zia-ul-Haq’s administration; their number grew from 893 to 2,801. Most were Deobandi in doctrinal orientation, while one quarter of them were Barelvi. They received funding from Zakat councils and provided free religious training, room and board to impoverished Pakistanis. The schools, which banned television and radio, have been criticised by authors for stoking sectarian hatred between Muslim sects and against non-Muslims.

Cultural policies: In a 1979 address to the nation, Zia decried the Western culture and music in the country. Soon afterwards the national television network ceased playing music videos and only patriotic songs were broadcast. New taxes were levied on the film industry and most of the cinemas in Lahore were shut down. This was despite strong support from the United States, and cordial meetings between Zia and President Ronald Reagan. It was under Zia and the economic prosperity of the era, that the country’s urban middle and lower-middle-classes expanded. Western 1980s fashion wear and hairstyle spread in popularity, and rock music bands gained momentum, according to leftist cultural critic Nadeem F. Paracha.

Welfare of the people with disabilities: During his tenure, he oversaw passing of an ordinance for the welfare of people with disabilities. The ordinance is called “The Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981” and it was passed into law on 29 December 1981. It provides the measures for the employment, rehabilitation and welfare of the people with disabilities.

Dismissal of the Junejo government and call for new elections: As time passed, the legislature wanted to have more freedom and power and by the beginning of 1988, rumours about the differences between Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo and Zia were rife. It is said by some that Zia-Junejo rift was encouraged by late Mahboob-ul-Haq and Junejo’s insistence on signing Geneva pact without deciding the composition of next government of Afghanistan before Soviet withdrawal. Junejo also gave Benazir a seat next to him in parleys before that. Junejo did not strengthen the Islamisation drive and rather weakened it. His era led to serious disturbances in Karachi and ultimately Karachi went into the secular control of MQM from the clutches of Sunni Jamaat-e-Islami.

Ojhri Camp blast had irreversibly weakened Zia: On 29 May 1988, Zia dissolved the National Assembly and removed the Prime Minister under article 58(2)b of the amended Constitution. Apart from many other reasons, Prime Minister Junejo’s decision to sign the Geneva Accord against the wishes of Zia, and his open declarations of removing any military personnel found responsible for an explosion at a munitions dump at Ojhri Camp, on the outskirts of army headquarters in Rawalpindi, earlier in the year, proved to be some of the major factors responsible for his removal.

Zia promised to hold elections in 1988 after the dismissal of Junejo government. He said that this would be done within the next 90 days. The late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s daughter Benazir Bhutto had returned from exile earlier in 1986, and had announced that she would be contesting the elections. With Bhutto’s popularity somewhat growing, and a decrease in international aid following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Zia was in an increasingly difficult political situation.

Death: Zia died in a plane crash on 17 August 1988.After witnessing a US M1 Abrams tank demonstration in Bahawalpur, Zia had left the small town in the Punjab province by C-130B Hercules aircraft. The aircraft departed the Bahawalpur airport but the control tower lost contact with the aircraft shortly after. Witnesses  who saw the plane in the air, claimed afterwards that it was flying erratically, and then nosedi ved and exploded on impact. Besides Zia, 31 others also died in the plane crash, including Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Akhtar Abdur Rahman, aclose associate of Zia, Brigadier Siddique Salik, the American Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Lewis Raphel and General Herbert M. Wassom, the head of the US Military aid mission to Pakistan.

Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the Senate chairman announced Zia’s death on radio and TV. Conditions surrounding his death have given rise to many conspiracy theories. There is speculation that the United States, India, the Soviet Union (in retaliation for Pakistani support of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan) or an alliance of them and internal groups within Zia’s military were behind the incident. A board of inquiry was set up to investigate the crash. It concluded ‘the most probable cause of the crash was a criminal act of sabotage perpetrated in the aircraft’. It also suggested that poisonous gases were released which incapacitated the passengers and crew, which would explain why no Mayday signal was given. There was also speculation into other facts involving the details of the investigation. A flight recorder (black box) was not located after the crash and previous C-130 aircraft did have them installed.

Maj. Gen. (retd) Mahmud Ali Durrani claimed later that reports of Israeli and Indian involvement in Zia’s plane-crash were only speculations and he rejected the statement that was given by former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan that the presidential plane was blown up in the air. Durrani stated that Zia’s plane was destroyed while landing.

Legacy

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Zia’s Tomb

“Well, he was a great loss…

He is a martyr,

and was a great man.”— George P. Shultz, 1988,

His funeral was held on 19 August 1988 in Islamabad. A 21-gun salute of light artillery resounded off the lush Margalla Hills; nearly 1 million mourners joined in chants of “Zia ul-Haq, you will live as long as the sun and moon remain above.” His remains were laid to rest in a 4-by-10-foot dirt grave in front of the Faisal Mosque that Zia had built as a symbol of Pakistani-Saudi friendship. Also in attendance were his successor President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, chiefs of staff of armed forces, chairman joint chiefs, and other high military and civil officials. Former US Secretary of State George P. Shultz also laid a floral wreath at Zia’s grave.

Public image: Even after his death, Zia-ul-Haq remained a highly polarizing and widely discussed figure in the country’s intellectual and political circles. In the country’s short history, Zia-ul-Haq’s legacy remains toxic, enduring, and tamper-proof  according to an editorial written in Dawn. Historians and political scientists discussed and studied his policy making skills, some noting him as “The Ringmaster”, “Master of Illusion” and “Master Tactician”. However, his most remembered and enduring legacy was his indirect involvement and military strategy; supporting by proxy the Mujahideen, against the USSR’s war in Afghanistan. His reign also helped the conservatives to rise in national politics against Benazir Bhutto. He is noted as one of the successful general in making the armed forces a key planner in country’s affairs. During his regime, western styles in hair, clothing, and music flooded the country. The 1980s gave birth to Pakistani rock music, which expressed nationalism in the country.

Removal of name from the Constitution of Pakistan: With the passing of Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, General Zia’s name was permanently deleted from the Constitution of Pakista

Honours: Knight of the Order of the Rajamitrabhorn (Thailand).

Books about Haq’s time period

  • The Leopard and the Fox by Tariq Ali (2007)
  • Breaking the Curfew by Emma Duncan (1989) ISBN 0-7181-2989-X
  • Working with Zia by General Khalid Mahmud Arif
  • Khaki Shadows by General Khalid Mahmud Arif
  • Desperately Seeking Paradise by Ziauddin Sardar
  • Waiting for Allah by Christina Lamb
  • Ayub, Bhutto, and Zia by Hassan Iftikhar
  • Journey to Disillusionment by Sherbaz Khan Mazari
  • Ghost Wars by Steven Coll
  • General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq Shaheed: A Compilation by various authors
  • Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile III
  • The Bear Trap: Afghanistan’s Untold Story by Mohammed Yousaf, Mark Adkin (1992) ISBN 0-85052-267-6
  • A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif
  • Pakistan’s Politics The Zia Years by Mushahid Hussain Syed
  • Pakistan Under Martial Law 1977-1985 by Muhammad Waseem
  • Songs of Blood and Sword by Fatima Bhutto
  • Ayub, Muhammad (2005). An army, Its Role and Rule: A History of the Pakistan Army from Independence to Kargil, 1947–1999. RoseDog Books. ISBN 9780805995947.

Portrayals in popular culture

Zia has been portrayed in English language popular culture a number of times including:

  • In the comic Shattered Visage, it is implied that Zia’s death was orchestrated by the same intelligence agency that ran The Village from the show The Prisoner.
  • Zia was portrayed by Indian actor Om Puri in the 2007 film Charlie Wilson’s War.
  • Zia is caricatured as one of the main protagonists in Mohammed Hanif’s 2008 satirical novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes which is loosely based around the events of his death.
  •  Zia is the basis for the character General Hyder in Salman Rushdie’s novel Shame (1983), which describes Zia’s long-lasting relationship with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (here known as Iskander Harrapa), the president whom he would later overthrow and “put to death”.
  • Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s takeover of Pakistan and circumstances of his death were referenced in the Star Trek novel The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume One. In a prelude to the fictional Eugenics Wars, it is implied that genetically engineered “superman” Khan Noonien Singh arranged the crash.
  • The oppressive regime of Zia-ul-Haq and the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was referenced in the book “Songs of Blood and Sword”, a non-fiction memoir by Murtaza Bhutto’s daughter Fatima Bhutto with chilling intensity

Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq

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  • 6th President of Pakistan                                         
  • In office 16 September 1978 – 17 August 1988
  • Chief of Army Staff 1 March 1976 – 17 August 1988

Personal details

  • Born: 12 August 1924 Jalandhar, Punjab, British India (now in Punjab, India)
  • Died: 17 August 1988 (aged 64) Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan
  • Resting place: Faisal Mosque
  • Nationality: Indian (1924–1947) Pakistani (1947–1988)
  • Political party: None
  • Spouse: Begum Shafiq Zia (1950–1996)

Children 

  1. Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq
  2. Anwar-ul-Haq
  3. Zain Zia
  4. Rubina Saleem
  5. Quratulain Zia

Alma mater

  • St. Stephen’s College, Delhi
  • United States Army Command and General Staff College

Nickname(s)

  • Mard-i-Momin

Allegiance

  • British India
  • Pakistan

Service/branch

  • British Indian Army
  • Pakistan Army

Years of service: 1943–1988

Rank

  • OF-9 Pakistan Army.svg
  • US-O10 insignia.svg General

Unit

22 Cavalry, Army Armoured Corps (PA – 1810)

Commands

  • 2nd Independent Armoured Brigade
  • 1st Armoured Division
  • II Strike Corps
  • Chief of Army Staff

Battles/Wars

  • World War II
  • Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
  • Black September in Jordan
  • Soviet war in Afghanistan

By courtesy of Wikipedia.org