The first Pakistani four-star general and the only Field Marshal of Pakistan Army, Mohammad Ayub Khan was born on 14 May 1907 in village Rehana, district Hazara of the North-West Frontier Province of British India (now Khyber-
Mohammad Ayub Khan
The first Pakistani four-star general and the only Field Marshal of Pakistan Army, Mohammad Ayub Khan was born on 14 May 1907 in village Rehana, district Hazara of the North-West Frontier Province of British India (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan). He belonged to the Tarin tribe of ethnic Pashtuns settled in Hazara. He was the first child of the second wife of Mir Dad Khan, who was a Risaldar-Major (senior regimental junior commissioned officer, then known as viceroy's commissioned officer) in 9th Hodson's Horse, a cavalry regiment of the pre-independence British Indian Army.
Ayub Khan received his primary education in a school in Sarai Saleh, about 4 miles from his village. He used to go to school on a mule's back. Later, he was moved to a school in Haripur, where he started living with his grandmother. He was then educated at Aligarh Muslim University, but did not complete his studies, as he was accepted into the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was fluent in Urdu, English, Punjabi Hindko dialect and Pashto.
After passing from Sandhurst, Ayub Khan was commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant on 2 February 1928. After the standard probationary period of service in a British Army regiment, he was appointed to the British Indian Army on 10 April 1929. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 2 May 1930 and to Captain on 2 February 1937. On 19 May 1941, he was promoted to Major. During the Second World War, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1942 and was posted to participate in 1942 Burma front. In 1945, he was promoted to colonel and assumed the command of his regiment to direct operations on 1945 Burma campaign.
In 1947, he was promoted to one-star rank, a brigadier and commanded a combatant brigade in Waziristan. After partition he joined the Pakistan Army as the 10th ranking senior officer. He was immediately promoted to two-star rank, major-general in 1948. Ayub Khan was appointed as GOC of 14th Division, stationed in Dhaka, East-Pakistan. In 1949, he was appointed as commander-in-chief of East Pakistan Armed Forces Command (Pakistan Armed Forces Eastern Command) and held responsibility for the ground defence of the entire state. The same year, he was awarded Hilal-i-Jurat (HJ) by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan for non-combatant service. In November 1949, he returned to West Pakistan and posted as adjutant general at the Army combatant Headquarters (GHQ). In 1951, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan made Ayub Khan, deputy commander in chief of Pakistan Army.
On 16 January 1951, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan approved the relief papers of Lieutenant General Sir Douglas Gracey (later retired as an honorary general) after his term was completed. There were three senior general officers, Major General Iftikhar Khan, Major-Generals Akbar Khan and N. A. M. Raza in line of promotion for becoming commander in chief. Initially, it was General Iftikhar Khan who was selected to be appointed as first native commander in chief but later died in an airplane crash en route to his senior officers training in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Iskandar Mirza convinced Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan to promote Ayub Khan to Lt. Gen. and appoint him as Commander in Chief. Ayub Khan’s papers of promotion were approved and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on 17 January 1951 and was subsequently appointed as commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army.
In 1954, Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Bogra appointed Ayub Khan as the Defence Minister of Pakistan. During this time, his role in national politics began to grow. He served in the governments of Suhrawardy, Feroz Noon, and I.I.Chundrigar. As Defence Minister, he maintained close ties with the President Iskandar Mirza. After losing confidence in running the government, Prime Minister I.I. Chundiragar resigned, which led to collapse of the national cabinet. With the support gained from the Republican Party and Awami League, Feroz Khan Noon took over the government by appointing a new cabinet. This alliance nearly threatened President Iskander Mirza because Suhrawardy and Feroz Khan were initially campaigning to become Prime Minister and President in the next general elections to be held.
The Pakistan Muslim League, led under Abdul Qayyum Khan, was also gaining momentum. These events were against President Mirza hence he was willing to dissolve even Pakistan's one unit for his advantage. On the midnight of 7 and 8 October 1958, President Mirza ordered a mass mobilization of Pakistan Armed Forces and abrogated the 1956 Constitution. The Feroz Khan administration and parliament were dissolved, and approved the appointment of Ayub Khan as chief martial law administrator. In mere two weeks, Ayub Khan deposed Mirza on 27 October in a bloodless coup, after Mirza tried to undercut Ayub Khan's authority by co-opting military officers. The Army sent Mirza into exile in England. Subsequently, Admiral A. R. Khan and four army generals, Azam Khan, Amir Khan, and Wajid Khan were instrumental in Ayub Khan's rise to power.
In 1960, he held an indirect referendum of his term in power. Functioning as a kind of Electoral College, close to 80,000 recently elected councillors were allowed to vote yes or no to the question “Do you have confidence in the President, Mohammed Ayub Khan”? Winning 95.6% of the vote, he used the confirmation as impetus to formalise his new system. This was the first of many instances in the history of Pakistan that the military became directly involved in national politics.
In July 1961, Ayub Khan paid a visit to the United States, accompanied by his daughter Begum Naseem Aurangzeb. Highlights of his visit included a state dinner at Mount Vernon, a visit to the Islamic Center of Washington, and a ticker tape parade in New York City.
Ayub Khan moved to have a constitution created, and this was completed in 1961. A fairly secular person by nature, Ayub Khan's constitution reflected his personal views of politicians and the use of religion in politics.
In 1962, he pushed through a new constitution that while it did give due respect to Islam, it did not declare Islam the state religion of the country. It also provided for election of the President by 80,000 (later raised to 120,000) Basic Democrats, who could theoretically make their own choice but who were essentially under his control. He justified this as analogous to the Electoral College in the United States and cited Thomas Jefferson as his inspiration. The government guided the press though his takeover of key opposition papers and, while Ayub Khan permitted a National Assembly, it had only limited powers.
Ayub Khan introduced the Muslim Family Laws through an Ordinance on 2 March 1961 under which unmitigated polygamy was abolished, consent of the current wife was made mandatory for a second marriage, brakes were also placed on the practice of instant divorce where men could divorce women by saying "I divorce you" three times under Islamic tradition. The Arbitration Councils were set up under the law in the urban and rural areas to deal with cases of (a) grant of sanction to a person to contract a second marriage during the subsistence of a marriage; (b) reconciliation of a dispute between a husband and a wife; (c) grant of a maintenance allowance to the wife and children.
His economic policies were based on the model of capitalism and followed free-market economics principles. The industrialization that took place in his term is often regarded as "Great Decade" in the history of Pakistan. The "Great Decade" was celebrated, which highlighted the development plans executed during the years of Ayub Khan’s rule, the private consortium companies and industries credited with creating an environment where the private sector was encouraged to establish medium and small-scale industries in Pakistan. This opened up avenues for new job opportunities and thus the economic graph of the country started rising.
He also introduced a new curricula and books for schools. Many schools and colleges were constructed during his time. He also introduced agricultural reforms. An oil refinery in Karachi was set up, and these reforms led to 15% GNP growth of the country that was three times greater than that of India. Despite the increase in the GNP growth, the profit and revenue was gained by the famous 22 families of the time that controlled 66% of the industries and land of the country and 80% of the banking and insurance of Pakistan.
The education reforms were steadily improved, and scientific development efforts were rising during his years, leading to the world-acclaim of Pakistan where his image was regarded more positive. This policy could not be followed for a long time after 1965, the economy collapsed and led to the economic declines which he was unable to control.
In 1964, the Planning Commission, Economic minister Muhammad Shoaib, and Foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Ayub Khan chaired a meeting to discuss the economical assessment of the Operation Gibraltar against India. According to Sartaj Aziz, Bhutto had gone on a populist Anti-Indian and Anti-American binge during the meeting. Bhutto succeeded in the meeting on spellbinding the ruling general and the President into thinking he was becoming a world statesman fawned upon by the enemies of the United States.
When authorizing the Operation Gibraltar, Deputy Chairman had famously told the President in the meeting, "Sir, I hope you realize that our foreign policy and our economic requirements are not fully consistent, in fact they are rapidly falling out of line". Sartaj Aziz vetoed the Operation Gibraltar against India, fearing the economical, turmoil that would jolt the country's economy, but was rebuffed by his senior bureaucrats.
In that meeting Bhutto convinced the President and the Economic Minister that India would not attack Pakistan due to Kashmir being a disputed territory, and per Bhutto's remarks: "Pakistan’s incursion into Indian-occupied Kashmir, at Akhnoor, would not provide [India] with the justification for attacking Pakistan across the international boundary because Kashmir was a disputed territory". This theory proved wrong when India launched a full-scale war against West-Pakistan in 1965.
The war caused Pakistan to lose the 500 million dollars it had been receiving by the Consortium for Pakistan through the United States. Ayub Khan could not politically survive in the aftermath of 1965 war with India and fell from the presidency after surrendering the presidential power to Army Commander General Yahya in 1969.
In 1964, Ayub Khan, confident in his apparent popularity and seeing deep divisions within the political opposition, called for Presidential elections in Pakistan. He was however taken by surprise when despite a brief disagreement between the five main opposition parties (a preference for a former close associate of Ayub Khan, General Azam Khan as a presidential candidate was dropped), the joint opposition agreed on supporting the respected and popular Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah as a candidate for next presidential elections. Despite Fatima Jinnah's considerable popularity and public disaffection with Ayub's government, Ayub Khan won with 64% of the vote in a bitterly contested election on 2 January 1965. The election did not conform to international standards per many journalists of the time.
As President, Ayub Khan allied Pakistan with the global United States military alliance against the Soviet Union. Pakistan developed strong economic, political and strategic ties with the United States. This in turn led to major economic aid from the US and European nations, and the industrial sector of Pakistan grew very rapidly, improving the economy, but the consequences of cartelization included increased inequality in the distribution of wealth.
Ayub Khan also became concerned about arrogance and bossiness of the US, who strongly criticized Pakistan for building ties with China. Ayub Khan then wrote the book Friends not Masters. It was under Ayub Khan that the capital was moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi, in anticipation of the construction of a new capital, Islamabad.
In 1960, Ayub Khan's government signed the Indus Waters Treaty with arch rival India to resolve disputes regarding the sharing of the waters of the six rivers in the Punjab Doab that flow between the two countries. Ayub Khan's administration also built a major network of irrigation canals, high-water dams and thermal and hydroelectric power stations.
Ayub Khan's domestic policies had heavy impact on Pakistan Armed Forces, and initially reduced the funding of military forces. His Chief of Army Staff had little interest in the military advancement and was seen lenient towards friendly India. His policies forced a halt to the nuclear deterrence and the nuclear energy projects established under the Government of Prime Minister Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy. The Prime minister established the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and launched the effective nuclear deterrence under the auspices of Dr. Nazir Ahmad, an experimental physicist.
In 1958, when General Ayub Khan seized the office and imposed martial law in Pakistan, he had limited the research facilities of PAEC based on economic grounds. Overall, the nuclear deterrence remained a low priority to Ayub Khan and his government repeatedly vetoed the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission's proposal to lead the establishment of national laboratories and the growth of nuclear power plants. Because of Dr. Abdus Salam's influence on Ayub Khan, Dr. Abdus Salam had succeeded into convincing him to personally approve a nuclear power plant against the wishes of his own military government. However, despite Dr. Abdus Salam's efforts, Ayub Khan rejected further proposals made by the Dr. Abdus Salam, and the PAEC to set up a nuclear reprocessing plant in 1968.
Ayub Khan closely allied with the United States and her allies while he publicly criticized the Soviet Union. His first visit to United States took place as he was the Defence Minister as part of the delegation of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, convincing the US along with prime minister to provide a military aide to the country. The new defence minister Ayub Khan was obsessed with the modernization of the armed forces in the shortest possible time and saw the relationship with United States as the only way to achieve his organizational and personal objectives. In April 1958, Ayub Khan stressed that armed forces were the strongest element, convincing the United States that the left-wing would gain influence if elections were held in the prevailing circumstances, and that this would not only destabilize Pakistan but would affect US strategic interests.
During his presidency, the Central Intelligence Agency's activities grew with a secret intelligence base, Peshawar Air Station, was leased to United States. The government officials, ministers including the military officials of Pakistan Armed Forces were not allowed near the base, and could not dare to enter the base. The station and its activities were exposed in 1960, when Soviet Air Defence Forces shot down the U-2 Dragon Lady, capturing its pilot near the vicinity. This incident seriously and severely compromised the security of Pakistan, brought the Soviet ire on Pakistan. In all, Ayub Khan had known of the operation, was fully aware of what happened in the Soviet Union. Ayub Khan was in London when the U-2 incident took place, notified by the CIA station chief, Ayub Khan shrugged his shoulders and said that he had expected this would happen at some point.
In 1959, then-Commerce and Energy minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto wished to visit the station, but was refrained from entering the spy operation's command room. Ayub Khan appointed left-wing intellectual Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the Foreign Minister, but soon forced him to resign when he excessively criticized the United States. In 1961-62, Ayub also garnered a lot of public interest in the UK, due to his involvement in the Christine Keeler affair.
The turning point in his rule was the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, and it ended in a settlement reached by Ayub Khan at Tashkent, called the Tashkent Declaration. The settlement was perceived negatively by many Pakistanis and led Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to resign his post and take up opposition to Ayub Khan.
In 1969 Ayub Khan opened up negotiations with the opposition alliance, except for Maulana Bhashani and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. However, under increasing pressure from Bhutto and Bhashani (who allegedly had support for their agitation from elements within the Army) and in violation of his own constitution (which required him to transfer power to the speaker of the National Assembly), on 25 March 1969, Ayub Khan handed over control of Pakistan to Army Commander-in-Chief General Yahya Khan.
He subsidized fertilizers and modernized agriculture through irrigation development, spurred industrial growth with liberal tax benefits. In the decade of his rule, gross national product (GNP) rose by 45% and manufactured goods began to overtake such traditional exports as jute and cotton. It is alleged that his policies were tailored to reward the elite families and the feudal lords. During the fall of his dictatorship, just when the government was celebrating the so-called 'Decade of Development', mass protests erupted due to an increasingly greater divide between the rich and the poor. In recent times, the myth of the so-called Decade of Development has also been trashed by economists.
His rule was characterised by an increasing dependency on East Pakistan for export revenues, coupled with an exclusion of East Pakistan from political influence. This laid the foundation for breakup of the country in 1972.
Government corruption and nepotism, in addition to an environment of repression of free speech and political freedoms increased unrest in later years of Ayub's rule. Criticisms of his sons and family's personal wealth increase, especially his allegedly rigged 1965 Presidential elections against Fatima Jinnah is a subject of criticism by many writers.
Ayub Khan began to lose both power and popularity. On one occasion, while visiting East Pakistan, there was a failed attempt to assassinate him, though this was not reported in the press of the day. Ayub Khan is criticised for the growth in income inequality millions of people fell below the poverty line. He is also blamed for not doing enough to tackle the significant economic disparity between East and West Pakistan. Whilst he was aware of the acute grievances of East Pakistan he did try to address the situation. However, the Ayub Khan regime was so highly centralized that, in the absence of democratic institutions, densely populated and politicized East Pakistan province continued to feel it was being slighted.
His eldest son Gohar Ayub Khan was Pakistan's Foreign Minister in the Nawaz Sharif government and his grandson Omar Ayub Khan was briefly Pakistan’s Minister of State for Finance. His daughter Begum Nasim Aurangzeb was married to Miangul Aurangzeb, the Wali of Swat.
In 1962, Ayub Khan Recieved the Order of the Crown of the Realm from Malaya.
He died on 19 April 1974.