Bhutto Hereticizes the Ahmedis

I saw this facebook comment from Ammar Qureshi, referring to the days leading up to the 2nd amendment to the Pakistani constitution (which declared Ahmedis to be non-Muslims).

The question was, did Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the prime minister of Pakistan and a vaguely leftist politician, but also a Paknationalist who dreamed of leading the Ummah, put this issue to the National Assembly because he wanted/intended this amendment to be passed (for political gain? for foreign policy objectives? to make himself Salahuddin?)?
 OR did he hope to defuse the issue but ended up having to get it passed against his own inclinations because of public pressure on this issue? (there was a nationwide agitation launched by Islamist parties on this issue, using Ahmedis as a wedge issue to regain their position in Pakistani politics).

I thought this comment should be preserved in a blog post, and other people can add their observations and opinions if they wish.

“My father as SSP Sargodha and later as DIG Quetta attended many law and order related meetings presided by Bhutto when anti-Ahmedi agitation was at its peak. He also accompanied Mirza Nasir to National Assembly as a security incharge for his presentation to the assembly. He attended meetings in which he remembered that Bhutto was not intially interested in declaring them non-Muslims and challenged Kausar Niazi and other members of PPP. However, Niazi told him that the foreign Muslims countries do not consider them Muslims so we have to take a decision as the agitation in streets had become a big issue for his government. ZAB was advised by his party members that he should take the matter to assembly in order to relieve the pressure on the streets. His party members in the meeting also flattered him that any decision he will take in this regard would be acceptable to the people. Bhutto since he enjoyed majority in the assembly thought that he would be able to get a grip on the issue to his liking if he takes the matter to National Assembly. However, his stength in the assembly became a big liability for him. Pressure on the streets subsided after the matter was taken to Assembly. However, now the pressure was on MNAs etc to declare them non-muslims. Initially it was assumed that PPP has majority in assembly so they can take any decision which ZAB likes. However, when MNAs came under pressure from their constituency on this subject, they told ZAB that they will become unpopular if they go against popular mood. Despite majority, Bhutto had to bow before the public pressure exerted on MNAs and declared Ahmedis non-Muslims as he realised that he will lose popularity due to this issue. “

.. my father attended the in-camera briefing in which Mirza Nasir explained his religion to the Assembly members. In fact there was no one sitting in the visitors gallery except my father and his team of police officials meant for security of Mirza Nasir. Mirza Nasir made presentation to the assembly and in his address explained the main tenets of his religion. However, the problem arose in the Q & A session. What proved to be the last question was asked by Kausar Niazi. He asked him as to what is the position of the Qadianis regarding those people who did not believe in the Qadiani’s belief regarding final prophet. Instead of being diplomatic to save his community, Mirza Nasir was very blunt and said that he considers them outside the pale of religion but consider them part of Millat ( community). All hell broke lose when he said this members of the assembly stood up and shouted Kafir Kafir in the Assembly. My father had to jump to the stage with his police escort to save Mirza Nasir- otherwise he would have been lynched by MNAs there in the assembly My father encircled Mirza Nasir and protected him for 20 minutes. He waited for 20 minutes but the uproar in the assembly did not die down so he sent a messenger to Kausar Niazi and asked him as to how long should he wait for the uproar to die down so that Mirza Nasir can resume his speech. Kausar Niazi said that there is no need to wait and he could take him. My father took him to a safe place and spent the whole day in that rest house with Mirza Nasir and at night took him in the car through unknown roads to Rabwah as there were reports coming on wireless that on all known routes to Rabwah there were security threats. On the way back, my father spoke with Mirza Nasir and told him that he should have been diplomatic and tried to save his community. However, Mirza Nasir was under the delusion that Ahmedis had voted for PPP and Bhutto had given him the assurance that he will go through the motions but not declare them non-Muslims. My father found Mirza Nasir’s reply quite strange if not delusional given what had happened few hours before and how could be sure that his community would not be declared non-Muslims. Even if ZAB had promised him something, he should have known that ZAB is a populist politician and will be guided, like any leader in a democracy, by the popular mood. When my father dropped Mirza Nasir safely at his Rabwah residence, he wrote in the log book that police gave him to sign- that SSP Police saved his life twice in one day- once in the National Assembly when he would have been lynched by the MNAs and second time when he took him through unknown route to Rabwah.

Sahibzada Yaqub Khan

The following are three notes about Major General Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, who passed away January 25th after a long and very eventful life. First and foremost is an article about him that was written a few years ago by Dr Hamid Hussain, a well known, extremely erudite and highly respected chronicler of the British Indian army and its successor armies. The second is from Major Aghan Humayun Amin whose knowledge of military history in general and the history of the Pakistani army in particular, is second to none, and who is not shy of making his opinion known in sometimes salty and direct language. The last one is from Abbas Raza, who runs the famous and who has written a very personal obituary about a man he clearly greatly admires.

Before we get to any of these notes, let me put out there some questions of my own. Anyone who has answers to these, please let us know in the comments section; you will do a service to history 🙂

My questions are about his actions in March 1971. Unfortunately now that he has passed away without giving his own account of those days, we need someone else to step in with the details.

Sahibzada Yaqub Khan was the martial law administrator in East Pakistan as well as commander Eastern Command. His command had already prepared contingency plans for military action as early as November or December 1971 (“operation Blitz”). In February 1971 Admiral SM Ahsan (Governor East Pakistan) took a stand against the Yahya Khan regime’s actions (Sheikh Mujib had just won a majority in the National assembly, but his becoming Prime Minister was forestalled by Yahya’s decision to delay the national assembly session using various excuses) and Ahsan objected to this policy, then resigned and left Dhaka (in early March). All this is well documented in official records and personal accounts. Later on it became general knowledge that General Yaqub had been similarly courageous and far-sighted and had resigned rather than carry out the poliicy being sent down by GHQ. Once this was mentioned in one or two books, it was re-quoted in other books and by now it is “common knowledge”. But if you look closer, matters are a bit more muddled. It is not clear at what stage  and to what extent he made his opposition known, and no resignation is clearly mentioned. All we know is that he left Dhaka around 5-7 March (as far as I know, no one claims he had resigned before he left Dhaka) and went to Karachi; what happened when he got there? I have heard from junior officers (obviously not direct participants in high level meetings) that Yahya Khan was very angry with Yaqub for “having left his post without permission” and there are claims that General Yaqub was in danger of being court-martialed for desertion. According to Major Amin, he was questioned in the transit camp in Karachi and was then demoted to major General. Where was he posted then? Had he resigned? or was he forcibly retired? A formal inquiry was supposedly held against him for leaving his post, but its contents have never been revealed either (and may no longer be traceable). I am sure that as a highly intelligent person, he very likely opposed the army action being contemplated then by the high command, but the point is, the details of his opposition and actions remain unknown.

So, can someone fill in this gap with direct information or with quotes from written accounts? When did he leave Dhaka? and in what circumstances? Did he offer to resign? Was there an inquiry against him and what were its conclusions? What were his formal postings after that event? Under what circimstances did he eventually leave the army? Did he retain his pension and benefits when he did leave the army?
I hope someone can clarify these points.

By the way, what is clearly documented (by Altaf Gauhar in newspaper articles if I remember correctly) is his positive role in another fiasco: when Zia was President the army considered an early version of the Kargil plan that Musharraf later put into effect. General Yaqub Khan was Zia’s foreign minister at that time and opposed the plan in a cabinet meeting and it was dropped because of his opposition.
He may have been similarly prescient about 1971, but the details remain murky. For the sake of history, it would be good to find out exactly what happened and when..

Of course, Sahibzada sahib’s career as Bhutto’s ambassador to several great powers, as Zia’s foreign minister, then as the establishment’s chosen foreign minister to keep Benazir in check, and then as Musharraf’s envoy to justify his coup, all indicate that he was a solid and upstanding member of Pakistan’s ruling elite and was comfortable with military rule, and with the foreign policy priorities of the Zia and Musharraf regimes (including the jihad in Afghanistan and its softer version in the Musharraf era). He was also highly educated and well read and had an impressive personality that a lot of people remember with awe. And of course, he got high praise from people like Nixon and Kissinger. One imagines that had he been born into the elite of a great power (instead of being born into the fading North Indian Muslim elite) he could have been an Edward Grey, though probably not a Curzon or Palmerston.
I wish he had written his memoirs.

From Dr Hamid Hussain: 

MG ® Sahabzada Yaqub Khan recently passed away.  Last of the generation of officers raised in Raj army and served with successor states armies.  Few years ago, I wrote a piece about him that was published in his alma mater RIMC Dehra Dun magazine.  In addition to profile of Sahabzada, I also took a detour into archaic regimental histories as I found some facts fascinating.  May be this can be a tribute and obituary of the officer and gentleman.  Rest in Peace Sahabzada.


Stranger Than Fiction – Lieutenant General ® Sahabzada Muhammad Yaqub Khan 
Hamid Hussain

Sahabzada Muhammad Yaqub Khan is part of that generation of subcontinent that witnessed some of the most exciting events of the last seventy years.  He was not only a witness but active participant in many events of these challenging times.  Some events of his life seem material for a novel rather than real life experiences.  This generation born at the zenith of British Raj in India received the best education that the Raj could offer and joined Indian army during Second World War.  Young lads from different religions and ethnicities were comrades in elite regiments fighting under the guidance of their British mentors.  As Captains and Majors they saw the independence of their land and departure of British.  Some had to leave their ancestral lands that happened to fall on the wrong side of the divide.  Former comrades became foes when their newly independent countries got entangled into prolonged conflict over the disputed territory of Kashmir.  Many fought against each other as Captains and Majors in 1947-48 war in Kashmir, in 1965 war as Brigadiers and Major Generals and in 1971 war as senior commanders of their respective armies.  In case of Pakistan, they saw the successful secession of eastern wing in 1971.  Yaqub is a poster child of this generation of officers.

Yaqub was born in the aristocratic household in the princely state of Rampur.  He studied at Prince of Wales Royal Military College at Dehra Dun.  He joined Royal Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun and commissioned in Indian army.  He joined elite 18th King Edward VII Own Cavalry of Indian army.  During Second World War, 18th Cavalry left India in January 1941 for the Middle East theatre and landed in Egypt.  Regiment was then commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Howard Fowler (he had just taken over command from Lieutenant Colonel H. M. Tulloch) and senior most Indian Viceroy commissioned Officer (VCO) was Risaldar Major Kapur Singh.  Lieutenant Yaqub was with A Squadron (Hindu Jat) commanded by Captain J. M. Barlow.

18th Cavalry was part of 3rd Indian Motor Brigade commanded by Brigadier E. W. D. Vaughan (later Brigadier Filose) and grouped with  two other elite cavalry regiments; 2nd Royal Lancers (Gardner’s Horse) and 11th Prince Albert Victors’ Own (PAVO) Cavalry.  They were supported by 2nd Field Regiment of Indian Artillery.  Volunteers from all three cavalry regiments of 3rd Indian Motor Brigade formed Indian Long Range Scouts (ILRS).  It was a squadron strength organization commanded by Major Samuel Vallis McCoy and consisting of J (Jat), R (Rajput), M (Muslim) and S (Sikh) patrols.  In May 1942, Italian forces overran 3rd Indian Motor Brigade and large number of Indian officers and men became Prisoners of War (POW).   Yaqub’s comrade in 18th Cavalry was Second Lieutenant Abhey Singh.  Yaqub and Abhey came from similar backgrounds.  Yaqub was from the princely house of Najibabad and his father Sir Abdul Samad Khan was Prime Minister of the princely state of Rampur.  Abhey was from the princely state of Kota where his father Major General Sir Onkar Singh was Prime Minister of the state.   Two other officers of the regiments fighting alongside Yaqub’s 18th Cavalry were also from aristocratic families.  Major Rajendrasinhji Jadeja (he has the distinction of being first Indian officer to win DSO and later rose to become Chief of Staff of Indian Army 1953-55) commanding B Squadron of 2nd Lancers was from the princely state of Nawanagar and Lieutenant Sardar Hissamuddin Mahmud el- Effendi of 11th PAVO Cavalry was scion of the Afghan royal family.  Yaqub and Hissam were later polo buddies (along with Colonel ‘Huskey’ Baig and Colonel Sikku Baig they played at Lahore Polo Club).

Yaqub and Abhey along with the senior most Indian officer Major P. P. Kumaramangalam (2nd Field Regiment) were together in Italian POW camps of Avers and Avezzano.  In the confusing times of 1943 when Italian forces capitulated, these three officers escaped.  Yaqub had learnt Italian during captivity therefore he was leading the pack interacting with Italian peasants to try to reach the allied lines.   They were captured again, this time by Germans and they spent next few years in German POW camp of Braunschweig.  Yaqub learned German during his stay with Germans.  He was repatriated after the end of war in 1945.  1947 Yaqub opted for Pakistan army while his comrade Abhey Singh stayed with Indian army.  Abhey transferred to 17th Poona Horse and led a tank squadron in ‘Operation Polo’ when Indian army moved into the state of Hyderabad in 1948.  In 1965 war, Yaqub’s parent battalion 18th Cavalry managed to reach the Burki Police Station on Lahore front and their commandant Lieutenant Colonel Hari Singh Deora (later Brigadier) had his picture taken in front of Burki police station.  Yaqub commanded 11th PAVO Cavalry in 1952-3; the regiment that was in the same formation when he served with 18th Cavalry during Second World War.  In 1947, Hindu and Sikh soldiers of regiments allotted to Pakistan went to India and Muslim soldiers of regiments allotted to India came to Pakistan.  Muslim elements of 2nd Lancers (along with some elements of 8th Cavalry and 9th Deccan Horse) joined 11th PAVO Cavalry while Sikh squadron of 11th PAVO Cavalry went to 18th Cavalry and thus the circle was completed.

In 1947, Yaqub was Second in Command of Viceroy’s Bodyguards then commanded by Lt. Colonel Peter Hussey.  Indian army regiments were divided between India and Pakistan including Viceroy’s Bodyguards.  This unit consisted of Punjabi Muslims and Sikhs.  Like all other regiments, personnel and equipment of bodyguards was also divided.  Major Yaqub representing Pakistan and Major Gobind Singh (Jaipur Guards) representing India went to the stables of Viceroy’s Lodge to divide the property of the regiment.  Mountbatten’s ADC Lieutenant Commander Peter Howes arbitrated and at one time a coin toss decided about which country will get the gold carriage of Viceroy.   Yaqub came to Pakistan with the Muslim component and their share of the property of one of the oldest regiment of Indian army and became the first commandant of Governor General’s Bodyguards.  Yaqub’s elder brother Sahabzada Muhammad Yunus Khan was commissioned in Indian army from Officers Training School (OTS) at Bangalore and served with Garhwal Rifles.  In Second World War both brothers fought under Union Jack and both earned Indian General Service Medal (IGSM).  In 1947, Yunus opted for Indian army.  Immediately after independence, India and Pakistan went to war in Kashmir.  Yaqub was sent by Pakistan army while Yunus was sent to the same theatre by Indian army.  Yunus was with Garhwal Rifles (most likely 3/18 Garhwal Rifles commanded by a fine officer Lt. Colonel Kaman Singh and a superb senior most JCO Subedar Major Sher Singh Rawat as this unit saw lot of action and 1/18 Garhwal Rifles came to the theatre quite late in July 1948).  Yunus served as Deputy Military Secretary to President of India and retired at the rank of Colonel.

A number of Indian and British officers were captured by Italians in Middle East theatre in May 1942.  All three commanding officers of the regiments of 3rd Indian Motor Brigade; Lt. Colonel Fowler CO of 18th Cavalry, Lt. Colonel De Salis CO of 2nd Lancers and Lt. Colonel P. R. Tathem CO of 11th  PAVO Cavalry were bagged by Italians.  In the Aversa POW camp in Italy, a very strange chapter of Indian military history was recorded.   Italian commander of the POW camp, Colonel Errera appointed several Indian officers for management of prisoners.  These officers of different faiths and ethnicities were fighting under the flag of British Indian army and were now prisoners.  Major Kumaramangalam (2nd Field Regiment) being the senior most officer was appointed commanding officer of the camp.  Captain Yahya Khan (4/10 Baluch Regiment, now 11 Baloch of Pakistan army) was camp Adjutant and his assistant was Lieutenant Shamsher Singh.  Captain Tikka Khan (2nd Field Regiment) was Quarter Master.  Other inmates of the camp were Yaqub Khan (18th Cavalry), Major Ajit Singh (Royal Indian Army Service Corps), Captain Kalyan Singh (2nd Field Regiment), Captain A. S. Naravane (2nd Field Regiment), Lieutenant Abhey Singh (18th Cavalry) and Lieutenant Sardar Hissamuddin Mahmud el-Effendi (11th PAVO Cavalry).  Many officers of this POW camp later played important part in the history of India and Pakistan.  The Italian Colonel of the POW camp could not have imagined that he was holding a whole crop of future high power society.  This camp has the world record of holding so many future senior officers under its roof.  Kumaramangalam escaped from Italy but captured by Germans and was their guest for few years.  He later became Chief of Army Staff of India (1966-69).  Yahya Khan rose to become Pakistan army chief and then President (1966-71).  In 1971, Tikka Khan was Commander of Eastern Command and later became Pakistan army chief (1972-76).  2nd Field Regiment of artillery can be proud to have two army chiefs of rival India and Pakistan.  Yaqub Khan became Lieutenant General and served as commander of Eastern Command during the fateful days of 1971.   After retirement he served as ambassador at several important posts and Foreign Minister of Pakistan.  Hissam rose to the rank of Brigadier in Pakistan army.  Ajit Singh rose in the ranks to become Lieutenant General, Kalyan Singh and Naravane became Major Generals and Shamsher Singh Brigadier in Indian army.

Yaqub left his mark on Pakistan army.  He has many admirers as well as his critics.  Yaqub is pioneer of starting the intellectual life in Pakistan army.  He served as Director Armored Corps as Brigadier, 6th Armored Division commander, Commandant of Staff College and Chief of General Staff (CGS)  as Major General and Corps Commander of East Pakistan at the rank of Lieutenant General .  As Commandant of Staff College at Quetta, he introduced Pakistani officers to the higher direction of war.  He was also instrumental in establishment of National Defence College (now National Defence University) with its two tiered course.  There were not too many thinking generals in Pakistan army at that time.

In view of his aristocratic background and intellectual bent, Yaqub was different in outlook.  He was from the old school of strict adherence to protocol and traditions.  One of his junior officers who served with Yaqub when later was commanding 11th PAVO Cavalry recalls an incident in the mess.  In one of the early days of his command, Yaqub stormed out of the dinning room because his cold meat was not properly dressed and potatoes were not of uniform size.  The officer swears that he saw tears in Yaqub’s eyes.  I can easily visualize that during Second World War, when ready to surrender, Yaqub donning his best cavalry uniform and asking his orderly to polish the boots with extra shine and then put on his cavalry sword and wait for the Italian officer to show up and Yaqub surrendering with full protocol.

Yaqub’s critics point to three incidents pertaining to three different times of his life.  First is when he was in Kashmir war in 1947-48.  Yaqub was ordered to rescue a small picket surrounded by Indians.  He was a thinking officer and kept calculating his own likely action and enemy’s possible reaction.  In the meantime, Indians overran the picket.  Second was when he refused to carry out military action against Bengalis when he was commander of Eastern Command.  Yaqub was sacked from the army for his refusal.  At that time, almost all officers regardless of their rank and social background denounced Yaqub.  Later, with hindsight, some changed their mind and thought Yaqub did the right thing.  Third criticism relates to his post retirement career.  He served at important ambassadorial positions under Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and later served as Foreign Minister of Bhutto’s executioner General Muhammad Zia ul Haq without any qualms.

In one life, Yaqub has enjoyed every aspect of an adventurous journey.  A long and fulfilling military career was followed by an equally rewarding career of a well respected diplomat.  In addition to these full time occupations, he continued his passion of reading (his grandfather Abdus Salam Khan was an avid reader and kept a large library) with some philosophical bent and played polo.  He is probably the oldest living officer in Pakistan and at the ripe age of 91 he has a treasure chest of memories that can bring a smile as well as a tear or two in the eyes.


1- Major General Partap Narain.  Subedar to Field Marshal (New Delhi: Manas Publications, 1999)
2- Major General ® A. S. Naravane.  A Soldier’s Life in War and Peace (New Delhi:  A. P. H. Publishing Corporation, 2004) 
3- Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.  Freedom at Midnight (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1975)
4- Charles Chenevix Trench.  The Indian Army and the King’s Enemies 1900-1947 (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1988) 
5- The Tiger Kills (London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office,1944)
6- M. Y. Effendi.  Punjab Cavalry: Evolution, Role, Organisation, and Tactical Doctrine 11 Cavalry (Frontier Force) 1849-1971  (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2007)
7- Colonel Abdul Qayyum.  Pakistan Army’s Mosaic of Ideas – I.  Defence Journal, July 2000
8- Hamid Hussain.  Stranger than Fiction – Story of Identity, Loyalty, Sacrifice and Betrayal.  Defence Journal, December 2007
9- Hamid Hussain.  Lest We Forget.  Defence Journal, March 2010

Agha H Amin , Major (Retired) ,
11 Cavalry , 29 Cavalry (attached) , 58 Cavalry , 15 Lancers , 5 IAS (commanded) , 14 Lancers, 15 SP (attached)

From Major Agha Humayun Amin: 

My fascination with Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan began in 1975 as I read about him and heard about him from my father.

He descended from Yusufzai Pathans from a village called Maneri near Swabi , who migrated to Raohailkhand as raiders and maruaders in 17th and 18th century .I made it a point to visit Maneri while serving as an instructor at Armour School Nowshera in 1991 . Interestingly I found Maneris fame as a top class village of UJRATIS , paid assasins who in 1991 killed people for as low as 3000 Rs in 1991. My Pashtun friends told me that women of Swabi were notorious or illustrious for being EXCEEDINGLY DOMINATING.

 A similar breed of Shinwaris as Sahibzadas ancestors, from Dur Baba constituted my maternal grandfathers fifth ancestor Mattay Khan a Shinwari from Dur Baba  present day Ningrahar who settled in Sikandara Rao in Aligarh District. Mattay Khan built a Haveli on a hill overlooking a pond (Jouhar) or (Hauli) . The Haveli still exists and the owner was the principal of the High School at Sikandara Rao.

Colonel Salman famous as Ustaad of Ustaads in Afghanistan having taught all the WHOS WHO from Hekmatyar and Ahmad Shah Massoud down to OBL and Mulla Omar belonged to a family who had migrated with Babar from Uzbekistan to Dibai near Sikandara Rao . Salmans father Colonel Ahmad won an MC in Burma while serving in Punjab Regiment and later raised 1 East Bengal. His uncle Aftab Sahib was my maternal uncle Saad Khairis batchmate in the CSP/PFS. Aftabs niece is married to my first cousin. Major General Wajahat also belonged to a village near Sikandara Rao.

When I visited Dur Baba last in January 2015 it was more notorious for being targeted by US drones.

These Shinwaris served in Mugahl Army , army of Nawab of Oudhs  and in Maratha Cavalry as part of various Risallahs of Pathans.They also contributed to all Ten Light Cavalry regiments of Bengal Army from 1780 to 1857. In 1857 Sikandara Rao followed Punjabi Opportunism in staying loyal to English East India Company while major part of Aligarh district was in rebellion against the company. Five of my maternal grandfathers uncles and grand uncles joined the rebellion and simply disappeared after 1858 . But Sultan Khans grandfather remained staunchly loyal although 5th Light Cavalry and Sultan Khans father served as Prosecuting inspector at Hoshiarpur till 1901 or so.Veteran PPP leader ND Khan also hailed from Sikandara Rao or surrounding area.Sikandara Rao had a varied collection of Shinwaris , Yusufzais and Sherwanis who were the leading zamindars and talukdars of Aligarh district.A relative Obaidullah Sherwani rose to rank of Deputy Secretary Establishment in Pakistan retiring in early 1960s. His son in law Mr Karrar served as General Manager of the glorious Midway House owned by KLM for many years from late 1960s to 1980 or so. Karrar Uncles son migrated to UK and married an Italian lady.

He appeared to be an ideal military personality and I quoted him as a high calibre personality in my article Orders and Obedience published in Pakistan Army Journal in March 1991.

I met him in 1994 and met him frequently till 1999 or so.

As I studied Pakistans 1971 debacle Ex Major General Yaqub Ali Khan (demoted to Major General in 1971) appeared a highly overrated character.

When the Sahibzada resigned he was a three star general . He was then demoted to two star and made to sit in a majors office in Transit Camp Karachi which now houses the ISI . His resignation was then accepted a few months later .

A rare case where a Pakistan Army officer resigned which means surrendering all pension and privileges.

Ill informed and poorly read Pakistani journalists fallaciously describe General Jahangir Karamats retirement as resignation while in reality it was forced retirement with the general enjoying all military perks and privilieges including pension.

He was admired for being a strategist but he FAILED to correctly formulate a strategic plan for the Pakistan Army for 1971 war . This includes his successors and all the stewards of strategic planning of Pakistan Army from 1947 to 1971.

While Mr ZA Bhutto was painted as Pakistan Armys scape goat for 1971 Crisis the hard fact is that Pakistan Army was TOTALLY STRATEGICALLY CLUELESS and had no viable STRATEGIC PLAN to deal with Indian Major Attack on East Pakistan.

When Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan was ordered to carry out a military crackdown in East Pakistan he refused . His motives are not clear . Whether it was excess of Moral Courage or Irresolution , we do not know and he never made it clear as long as he lived.

A man of all seasons he served in various ambassadorial assignments under various civilian and military governments.

As one who contributed in education of future generations by sharing his knowledge , his role was ZERO as he did not publish any memoirs.

He was an untested horseman in actual operations of war as he never commanded anything in war except as a very juniour officer at Gazala where he was captured by DAK and incarcerated as a PW in Italy.

His role at Chawinda remains controversial and unclear and many allege that he was responsible for the Pakistani rout at Phillora although Sardar Yahya Effendi tried to give him a clean chit.

His conduct as PW was eventless and drab as unlike his fellow prisoner Yahya Khan he never made any attempt to escape.Also another PW in Italy was another overrated general Tikka Khan who later rose to be Pakistan Army chief who also never tried to escape.

It goes to Yahya Khans credit that he made four attempts to escape.After his failed third attempt the Wehrmacht German camp commandant warned him that if he tried to escape again he would have him shot.

Yahya Khan succeeded in his fourth attempt and walked 350 miles cross country , enjoying traditional Italian hospitality in many villages to join the British Indian forces in middle of Italy.

A famous incident about Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan  as Commanding officer 11 Cavalry was when he asked the Risaldar Major for 5000 Rupees and when the Risaldar Major gave him 5000 Rs kept searching the regimental accounts for the missing 5000 Rs .

When the Risaldar Major inquired why he remained in office that whole night he told him that he was searching for the 5000 Rs that he gave him .The RM in disgust showed him his cheque book and told him that he had withdrwan 5000 Rs from his personal bank account and the 5000 had nothing to do with PAVO 11 Cavalry Funds.

If Aunty Nunni ( daughter of Nawab Mumtaz Hassan Khan Bangash of Jahangirabad and a descendant of Nawab Shefta Khan Bangash) is to be believed he frequently visited his brother in Rohailkhand in India to settle his share of the properties in India.

In best tradition of Indian Muslims no Nawab from India migrated from UP to Pakistan as this would have disinherited them.Only Nawabzadas , Sahibzadas came who were not entitled to any major share in Talukas or Jageers by law of primogeniture that entitled only the eldest son to the estate).

From Abbas Raza:
A great man and one of the most significant figures in the history of Pakistan has just died. I consider it my great fortune that I came to know him and the idea of a world without him in it is quite unbearable. Here is what I wrote about him more than 10 years ago on 3QD:

Sahabzada Yaqub Khan is the father of one of my closest friends, Samad Khan. He is also probably the most remarkable man I have ever met. All Pakistanis know who he is, as do many others, especially world leaders and diplomats, but to those of you for whom his name is new, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce him.

The first time that I met Sahabzada Yaqub Khan about six years ago, he was in Washington and New York as part of a tour of four or five countries (America, Russia, China, Japan, etc.) relations with which are especially important to Pakistan. He had come as President Musharraf’s special envoy to reassure these governments in the wake of the fall of the kleptocratic shambles that was Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s so-called democratic government. Samad Khan, or Sammy K as he is affectionately known to friends, invited me over to his apartment to meet his Dad. I had heard and read much about Sahabzada Yaqub and knew his reputation for fierce intellect and even more intimidating, had heard reports of his impatience with and inability to suffer fools, so I was nervous when I walked in. Over the next couple of hours I was blown away: Sahabzada Yaqub was not much interested in talking about politics, and instead, asked about my doctoral studies in philosophy. It was soon apparent that he had read widely and deeply in the subject, and knew quite a bit about the Anglo-American analytic philosophy I had spent the previous five years reading. He even asked some pointed questions about aspects of philosophy which even some graduate students in the field might not know about, much less laymen. Though we were interrupted by a series of phone calls from the likes of Henry Kissinger wanting to pay their respects while Sahabzada Yaqub was in town, we managed to talk not just about philosophy, but also physics (he wanted to know more about string theory), Goethe (SYK explained some of his little-known scientific work, in addition to quoting and then explicating some difficult passages from Faust), the implications of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, and Urdu literature, of which Sahabzada Yaqub has been a lifelong devotee.


PS: a note from Khalid Hasan regarding SYK:

By the way, now that we are on anecdotes, here is one i heard from an officer who was with him in the armored corps: General Zia (then colonel Zia) was his GSO, but he wouldnt let Zia ride in his car with him…he said Zia puts oil in his hair and it makes his car smell of hair oil. … Darogh ba gardan e ravi 🙂

More “collateral damage” in Bacha Khan University

Taliban terrorists attacked Bacha Khan university in Charsadda in Northwest Pakistan 2 days ago and killed at least 22 students and faculty. The same group that claimed responsibility for a horrendous school massacre in December 2014 has claimed responsibility for this one.  The attack should not come as too big a surprise, since Umar Mansoor, the “Khalifa” of the Taliban group that claimed the first attack had vowed after that attack to attack more schools and universities. You can see his statement in the video below.

After the last attack, the Pakistani army claimed it had killed those involved in planning and facilitating the attack and stopped talking about Umar Mansoor until he showed up a few months later to claim some new attack. Even then, he would be in the news for a day or two and then disappear from the radar. He is now back in the news. In a few days, he will again disappear from it.
So it goes.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s incredibly efficient and competent “Inter-Services Public Relations” (ISPR) department (headed by a three star general, probably the only military PR department in the world, perhaps the only one in history, to be led by a three star general; we may not produce Guderians and Rommels, but we do produce Bajwas, Mashallah) was on air within minutes to make sure we all understood how:
A. The army had reacted extremely competently to the attack and the attackers had been killed in short order (this claim has some credibility; our mid-level officers and soldiers are indeed competent, brave and aggressive and deserve some credit. They are certainly more competent than their Indian counterparts and in Pakistan, that may be all that matters. The university’s security staff and the police may or may not deserve some credit as well, but we will likely never know, since Police-ISPR and Chowkidar-ISPR are not as well funded as the army’s ISPR).

B. The attackers came from Afghanistan and may have had foreign backing (hint hint cough RAW cough cough), so dear contrymen, we are off the hook. WE didnt do it and neither did OUR proxies.

C. The army chief is flying around as we speak, raising morale, calling the Afghan president for a chat and generally doing stuff (and need we say, the civilians have no clue).

But what this ISPR effort (and the concurrent appearance of multiple military proxies on TV channels, all claiming that India was behind this attack) really tells us is that the game remains the same. Even as we were being told that we are the victims of cross-border terrorism and that this was intolerable and no state could allow its neighbors to harbor terrorists who come across the border and kill innocents, OUR terrorists (the good Taliban) proudly claimed responsibility for killing another group of innocent civilians in Kabul. And of course, this comes just weeks after another party of “good terrorists” had attacked an Indian airbase in Pathankot, and of course we need not go back all the way to another group of “good terrorists” who shot up civilians in Mumbai train stations and hotels several years ago.
And so it goes.

General Asad Durrani, ex-chief of the ISI and proud “intellectual soldier” said it best; the deaths of hundreds of innocent students in Pakistan are the collateral damage of our successful strategy of “winning” in Afghanistan. Great nations have to be willing to make small sacrifices. And what are a few lies between friends?

Watch at 9 minute mark onwards. Please do. You will not regret it.

 What more can one say?
There are, literally, no words.

But the people are beginning to lose their patience.

Pakistan and India 2016. To talk or not to talk?

Terrorists attacked an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot in a New Year strike that threatens to derail yet another attempt (this time on Prime Minister Modi’s initiative) at improving relations.

Some of the terrorists’ fellow operatives in Pakistan have been identified in the media (as expected, they are university graduates unhappy at the Picketty-inequality they see around them), take a look:
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Myra Macdonald has summed up the strategic situation around this attack very well in this excellent piece and it should be read in its entirety as background for this post. As the piece makes clear, the situation is not too optimistic and it may well be that it will get worse. On the other hand, Pakistan has not gone into its habitual denial mode and may even take some action against some of the terrorist networks involved. But some action may not be the same as enough action and enough action may not even be possible for the current regime in Pakistan. The question then arises, why should India bother to continue any talks with Pakistan? Since I remain in favor of such talks (albeit at mid-level and with clear and specific aims), I get a lot of heat on social media from Indians (as well as some Pakistanis) on this topic. I will try to explain some of my reasoning by trying to re-enact the sequence in which a pro-talks position can seem reasonable (at least for now), and as usual, I will have to start quite far back:

1. I take it as a given that partition was a poor solution to a real problem and has only served to perpetuate and strengthen Hindu-Muslim differences in the Indian subcontinent. But what has happened has happened, and history has moved on. Borders have been in place for decades and even though Bangladesh separated from West Pakistan, the basic formula of separating Muslim majorities at the Eastern and Western extremities of the subcontinent from the modern state of India remains in place and is unlikely to be reversed in the foreseeable future. This is recognized not just be those who cooked up the original two-nation theory, it is also recognized by most Indian nationalists and Hindutvadis (a smaller core may continue to harbor dreams of reuniting all of Indian civilization in one Hindu-dominated country, but even the dreamers do not see this as an imminent possibility; some of them even see partition as a painful but necessary first step in defanging India’s Muslim minority, but this is all a discussion for another day).

2. The Two-nation theory (TNT) in its full Pakistan military academy format (a format that really took hold well AFTER the theory was used to create Pakistan) is a dangerous theory and a recipe for endless war. This theory implies (though not all adherents are conscious of this implication) that ALL Indian Muslims became “un-Indian” the day they became Muslim. Anywhere that they are in majority, they deserve to be formally separated from secular (or Hindutvadi) India so that they can live in their new and true desired state of Islamic Pakistan.  Anywhere that they are in a minority, they are only staying in India because it is not feasible to separate YET.
Kashmir, being a Muslim majority state (though including two large infidel-majority regions within it) therefore belongs to Pakistan and must be reunited with it. Arguments about rivers and communications are added to provide secular cover for this theory. That is the project which our Jihadist policy is supposed to accomplish. This obviously means conflict with India is not resolvable until Kashmir is handed over to Pakistan. Since it is abundantly clear that no Indian government will accept that solution, conflict will be endless until one side wins.

3. It is the historic task of the Pakistani bourgeoisie to give up on the two-nation theory so that they can stop this endless war and make a reasonable peace with India,  with its associated peace dividend for the great mass of Indians and Pakistanis (and those beyond the two countries who pay for our proxy wars, as in Afghanistan and to a lesser extent, Bangladesh, Nepal and even Sri-Lanka).

4. As the Jihadist project grew, it also grew to be a threat to other nations (USA, China, Iran, and everyone everywhere) and to the people, and then even the elite, of Pakistan itself.  Since the project involved setting up and supporting a vast infrastructure of Jihadist Sunni Islam, it has been poison for all non-Sunni residents of the nation (this is simply a given because radical Sunni Islam prescribes very harsh conditions for the survival, if any, of heterodox sects and other religions; and no survival at all for atheists). As armed gangs proliferated they learned to do other things armed gangs normally do. They extort, rob, kill for payment, etc. etc.  Even the United States (initially a major supporter and patron of the Jihadi project) switched sides and is no longer tolerant of most (and some will claims, of all) such gangs. The toll exacted by their depredations on the economy and the social fabric needs no further explanation.

5. In this setting many in the civilian elite (especially those whose main concern is making money) are willing to give up on the Jihadi project if that is the only way to get peace and international patronage. The deep state has been more obstinate. They have given up bits and pieces of the project when pushed very hard, but they have not given up on its core: the “good jihadis” who target India. This has opened a bit of a gulf between the civilian politicians (most of whom, except the explicitly Islamist parties) are willing to give up the project, and the deep state, which still clings to its original Indian phase (and for that matter, with greater circumspection, even to its Afghan phase) of this violent and nihilistic project.

6. India (at least for now) does not have decisive military superiority and cannot simply impose war on Pakistan to force its will on Pakistan (not without risking unacceptable casualties and setbacks to its economic dreams). When an attack happens, it has to look for other levers, short of outright war. Many such levers probably exist, but the international community will not cooperate with India in this regard unless attacks cross some internationally accepted red line. Currently that red line does not include low casualty attacks. This irks many Indians no end (and understandably so), but the real point is that this may change in the future. Until it does so, India’s options are limited, but when it changes, they become much more plausible and threatening to Pakistan.

7. If and when the narrative shifts decisively against Pakistan (and unfortunately for GHQ, it is shifting rather fast), more and more of these levers will become usable. This is the crucial point: India can do more right now, but it is risky and may reverse its own international standing and economic progress in the process. But if and when the narrative shifts decisively in its favor, its freedom of action will expand.

8. By clearly taking the initiative for peace, India is resetting at least one part of that international narrative. It is making it harder to blame Indian intransigence for the failure of peace moves. By continuing to talk (albeit at mid-level and with very clear demands) it may also exacerbate the civil-military conflict within Pakistan.
It would be a mistake to think that the security establishment simply does what it pleases in Pakistan. It does not, and it faces increasing rifts within the elite. When someone like Ashraf Jahangir Qazi (a pillar of the sane deep state) writes like this, it means they face very real resistance. In time (and this time is not infinite, we are talking relatively short term), this makes it harder for the security establishment to maintain its own red lines within the country and outside it. Outside powers increasingly see an establishment at odds with its OWN elite. Domestic groups see it as being dangerous and even suicidal. Perceptions matter. It is in the interest of India as well as of the peace lobby (which is really the “anti-hard-TNT” lobby) in Pakistan to change perceptions and create a clear separation between the civilian ruling elite and the security establishment if the security establishment refuses to change policy. 

9. This may not work at the first level, i.e. at the level of “peace talks succeed, peace breaks out”, that may not happenIn fact, it may even be LIKELY that it will not work in this way and the security establishment will sabotage peace moves or will be unable to deliver peace even if it changes its mind and wants to act sanely.  But even if the initiative fails at this level, it will work to change the international narrative decisively in India’s favor (and by this, I don’t just mean the PR side of things, though that too matters to a small extent. I mean how the great powers actually perceive the situation and what options they support or tolerate). i.e. it will help change the “narrative” in favor of India’s position and make the next red line easier to enforce.

10. I obviously hope it works at the first level. As a Pakistani, I would much prefer that the security establishment comes to its senses and the country manages to get out of the jihadi violence cycle (none of which will be easy in any and every imaginable scenario). I don’t think war is in the interest of the Pakistani OR Indian elite or their long-suffering common people. Very narrow sections of the elite may believe it is in their benefit to stoke conflict, but they are narrow sections in both countries…that is exactly the reason why there is an opening.
That may be hoping for too much. But miracles are possible. I am afraid that the core Islamicate region is in the throes of a major civilizational crisis. As a major Islamic state, we share in that crisis, over and above our India-centric adventures. But we are also part of Indic civilization and our divorce from that civilization is not complete. If we can move back into that orbit (NOT back into the Indian state, just back into Indian orbit) we will have many problems to solve (the largest collection of really poor, malnourished, poorly governed people in the world for example) but at least we will not have to solve the Islamic political crisis just to continue living. That will be a major relief and a huge step forward. For that to happen, we need to make peace with India. For that to happen, both India and Pakistan will need to try (even at the cost of transiently looking bad to their own nationalist constituency) some very patient and competent maneuvers. That sounds like a tall order.
But we have to hope.
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