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Ayub Khan (1907-1974)
Ayub Khan started his career as an army officer in the British Army and served on many fronts. On the eve of partition, he chose to serve under the banner of a Muslim state i.e. Pakistan. He became the first C-in-C of Pakistan’s Army as well as the country’s first CMLA, appointed by Sikander Mirza. He was also elected to serve in the public office of the presidency. He gave Pakistan a constitution and a few important reforms, which however were never implemented. Many historians and political analysts consider him responsible for the dismemberment of East Pakistan. After a long illness, he breathed his last on 19th April 1974.
Ayub Khan was born on May 14, 1907, in Rihana near Haripur district that is located in North West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtoonkhoah) of Pakistan. As far as his family background is concerned, he belonged to the Tareen tribe of Pakhtoon ethnicity. His father was a Risaldar-Major in the British Army. After completing his primary education, Ayub Khan got enrolled in the Aligarh Muslim University but left his studies incomplete and was accepted in the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
On behalf of his extraordinary performance in the Sandhurst Academy, he was inducted as a commissioned officer in 1928 in the British India army. He served the military on various fronts i.e. Waziristan war (1936-39) and World War II on the Burma front (1944-1945) being two of them. When the partition plan was declared, Ayub Khan was one of those senior Muslim officers who opted for Pakistan. He was among the ten most senior officers of Pakistan. In 1951 he became the first native C-in-C of Pakistan, succeeding General Douglas Gracy. He was not appointed the C-in-C on behalf of his seniority rather on the perception that he was an apolitical military officer. Later events proved that perception to be wrong.
Ayub’s appointment as the C-in-C was an incident which he had never thought would materialize in that life and provoked the latent talent of statesmanship in him. He, with the ambition to rule the country, started to take interest in state politics. It was Ayub, on whose suggestion, Liaquat Ali, the, then, Premier of Pakistan stretched the hand of friendship towards the U.S.A. Actually; Ayub Khan presented the shortage of arms and armaments in a very alarming situation for the security of the country and compelled Liaquat Ali to approach the USA for the acquisition of munitions. In such a way, he got succeeded in establishing the relation between U.S.A and Pakistan, which was a relation between G.H.Q and Pentagon. To execute his plans, he considered it necessary to take the senior-most bureaucracy into his confidence and made them realize that the politicians were not worthy to rule the country. Till then, the bureaucrats had also been tired of their ineligible and inefficient ‘’Bosses’’. Together with Ayub Khan, they entered into a secret understanding and allegiance and were determined to ‘save’ their country from the clutches of uneducated and ill-mannered landed aristocracy.
In 1954, he was assigned with an extra charge of the Ministry of Defense, which he held for almost a year i.e. 1954-55. Politically the country seemed to be very unstable but behind the curtain, the establishment was tightly holding the reins of the administrative machinery and the state was far from collapse or civil war. Ayub supported not only the acts of Ghulam Muhammad, who dismissed many ministries, but also backed the illegal and immoral acts of Sikandar Mirza. Under the commandment of Sikandar Mirza, he abrogated the constitution of 1956 and promulgated Martial law in the country on 7th October 1958. Soon he dismissed the president on 27th October 1958 and became the CMLA of Pakistan.
Ayub Khan lifted Martial Law in 1962 and a new constitution was enforced in the country. When he got confidence about his popularity in public spheres, accompanied by the fact that the political powers were divided, he declared presidential elections in 1965. The opposition, though divided, made consensus on Fatima Jinnah (the reverend sister of the founder of Pakistan) as the presidential candidate against Ayub Khan. The elections were held on 2nd January 1965 followed by Ayub’s success. The major reason for Ayub’s success referred to the support of Basic Democrats. This time Ayub got the legal cover to dictate the nation.
The turning point in his reign was the Indo-Pak War of 1965 which ended in a settlement reached by Ayub at Tashkent, called the Tashkent Declaration. The whole nation felt deceived at this act of Ayub Khan; even his right hand and foreign minister of that time, Zulfiqar Bhutto, resigned from his post and took up the opposition against Ayub. The war had its repercussions on the domestic politics of the country. Two powers emerged as a result of this incident i.e. Z.A.Bhutto in West-Pakistan and Mujeeb-ur-Rehman’s opposition in East Pakistan where the Awami League sought more autonomy for the province.
In 1969, Ayub opened negotiations with different political powers excluding Bhashani and Bhutto. But under severe pressure of the agitating forces, Ayub handed over control of Pakistan to Commander-in-Chief General Yahya Khan, who was the President’s most loyal lieutenant and was promoted on behalf of his loyalty to the president by overruling the set rules of promotion.
Ayub Khan was in West Pakistan at the time of the war of 1971 and was willing to fight along with the armed forces of Pakistan but he could not do so on behalf of his poor health. He died in 1974.