Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who served as the 7th President of Pakistan was born (20 January 1915) and raised in Ismail Khel, a rural locality on the outskirts of Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK). His family remains active in
Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who served as the 7th President of Pakistan was born (20 January 1915) and raised in Ismail Khel, a rural locality on the outskirts of Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK). His family remains active in politics, his son-in-law, Anwar Saifullah Khan is former federal minister and his granddaughter is married to Omar Ayub Khan, the grandson of former president Ayub Khan and son of politician Gohar Ayub Khan.
After his early education in Bannu, Ghulam Ishaq Khan first attended the Islamia College and then went to Peshawar University. He obtained double BSc, in Chemistry and in Botany. Initially looking for a university job, Ghulam Ishaq Khan joined the Indian Civil Service in 1941, serving in various provincial assignments on behalf of British India. After independence in 1947, Ghulam Ishaq Khan opted for Pakistan and was assigned to the bureaucracy of the provincial government of North-West Frontier Province (now KPK) in 1947. He served as the secretary of the irrigation department, until 1955.
In 1956, Ghulam Ishaq Khan was appointed Home Secretary of Sindh, and later Secretary of Sindh Department of Development and Irrigation. In 1958, he was elevated to federal government, and was appointed as the secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1958, Ghulam Ishaq Khan joined the board of governors at the Water and Power Development Authority and subsequently promoted to Chairman in 1961. As Chairman, he played a vital role in the construction and financial development of Mangla Dam and Warsak Dam.
In 1966, Ghulam Ishaq Khan left the chairmanship to be appointed as Finance Secretary. In 1971, Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto appointed him Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and in 1975, posted him at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as Defence Secretary, which brought him into close contact with the military establishment. Though an unusual assignment for a financial expert, this appointment made him a power bureaucrat in the country. During that time, Ghulam Ishaq Khan became closer to General Zia-ul-Haq and had later coveted for General Zia-ul-Haq's appointment as the chief of army staff.
As Defence Secretary, he helped manage the Pakistan's large but integrated nuclear project and had been directly associated with the programme. He backed the advocacy of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and helped establishing the Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL) in Kahuta. He headed the Uranium Coordination Board (UCB) which consisted of AGN Kazi, Munir Ahmad, and Agha Shahi and later helped to consolidate the efforts at ERL under Lt. Gen. Zahid Ali Akbar as its first military director. After approving the survey by General Akbar, he helped to secure the funds for the ERL works and providing lobbying for General Akbar's promotion as the Engineer-in-Chief.
After the Prime Minister Bhutto was ousted in a staged coup d'état in 1977, Ghulam Ishaq Khan played a crucial role in the event of stabilizing chief of army staff General Zia-ul-Haq, in Bhutto's capacity. After meeting with the military leadership at the JS HQ, Ghulam Ishaq Khan reportedly marked that, this action was going to harm the country, but since it could not be reversed, they should do their best to salvage whatever they could. He was immediately elevated as Finance Minister by General Zia-ul-Haq, who acted as the Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA).
A team of economic experts and technocrats were assembled in the management of Ghulam Ishaq Khan, and giving him the authority over the Planning Commission, Economic Coordination Committee, and Executive Committee of the Space Research Council. Ghulam Ishaq Khan worked towards controlling the national economy while harnessing the damaged Private sector. In 1977, Ghulam Ishaq Khan endorsed General Zia-ul-Haq's bid for becoming the President of Pakistan who tightened the grip of martial law in the country.
In the 1980s, Ghulam Ishaq Khan backed the implementation of the economic Islamization by introducing the risk-free interest rate system. He managed the revenue collection and provided the modern shape in the state–owned enterprises (SOEs) that were established in a nationalization in the 1970s. His policies and economic expertise ultimately resulted in the improvement in GDP and GNP progress, helping Pakistan's economy become among the fastest-growing in South Asia.
After the non-partisan general elections held in 1985, Ghulam Ishaq Khan was succeeded by Mahbub ul Haq an economist and decided to participate in the upcoming indirect senate elections. In 1985, he became Chairman of the Senate which he remained intact in that capacity until 1988.
After the mysterious plane crash occurred in Bahawalpur, Ghulam Ishaq Khan appeared on national television to announce the death of General Zia-ul-Haq. According to the Constitution of Pakistan, Ghulam Ishaq Khan was the second in the line of succession to the President of Pakistan. However, General Mirza Aslam Beg called out for the general elections held in 1988. Until the elections, Ghulam Ishaq Khan served as an acting President in accordance with the Constitutional rules of succession.
Reaching the mutual understanding with the leftist Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), Ghulam Ishaq Khan participated in presidential elections on a PPP platform. He secured 608 votes against the four candidates who took part in the election. He was also supported by the conservative Nawaz Sharif. As president, Ghulam Ishaq Khan was marred with political struggle with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who attempted for pushing the bill to reverse the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan. Furthermore, Ghulam Ishaq Khan was in a conflict with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in two areas, the appointment of the military chiefs of staff and the Justices of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Ghulam Ishaq Khan consolidated his position in controlling the nuclear deterrence, keeping all the control over the programme's direction. Problems arose when Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto made contacts with Dr. Munir Ahmad and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan over the programme's direction, which frustrated Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Economic growth slowed down and introduction of the US Embargo on Pakistan caused a great economic panic in the country. In the 1990s, Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto failed to arrest the 30% fall in the value of Rupee from 21 to 30 to the US $. Ghulam Ishaq Khan struggled to control the law and order in the country after witnessing the troop retreat from Afghanistan. Although, he maintained an ally of the United States.
As economic and law and order crises deepened, Ghulam Ishaq Khan used Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Pakistan and dismissed Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's government over the charges of corruption and deteriorating law and order situation and announced the fresh elections in the country. After holding the general elections in 1993, he supported Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister and his government.
Problems with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arose with the issue of reversing the Eighth Amendment when Nawaz Sharif tried to pass the bill. Eventually, he used the Eighth Amendment to dismiss Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on similar charges, but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif retaliated and challenged him in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. His attempt to use the Eighth Amendment was marked as illegal by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and reinstated Prime Minister Sharif. But, the political deadlock remained and the joint intervention of judiciary and the military resulted in forced resignation of both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
In 1988, Ghulam Ishaq Khan founded and established the famed Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology that offers world-class programmes in engineering, and science and technology in the country. The university was established with the financial support from BCCI. He invited Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, who took the professorship of physics and delegated Asghar Qadir, a PAEC mathematician, to take professorship in mathematics.
He died on 27 October 2006, after a bout of pneumonia.