Mohammad Ayub Khan, former president of Pakistan, was born on May 14, 1907, in Rehana village, British India. He chose the profession of his father, Mir Dad Khan, and joined the army in 1928. He was in action against the Japanese in Myanmar (Burma) during World War II. Khan had the honor of becoming the first Pakistani commander-in-chief in January 1951. He became defense minister in 1954 and was instrumental in Pakistan's joining of U.S.-sponsored military alliances in the cold war. Consequently, the United States provided military and economic assistance to Pakistan. Khan was the chief martial law administrator when President Iskander Mirza (1899-1969) imposed martial law in October 1958. He became president after deposing Mirza in a bloodless coup on October 27, 1958, and declared himself as the field marshal.
The tenure of Khan was marked by important developments in Pakistan. He initiated reforms in the agricultural and industrial sectors. The economic reforms, along with industrialization, opened up avenues for employment. Khan ordered construction of power plants and dams. The distribution of water resources of the Indus was a bone of contention between Pakistan and India. In 1960, the dispute was settled after the signing of the Indus Water Treaty pertaining to the six rivers of Punjab. He enacted the Family Laws Ordinance of 1961, empowering woman in matters relating to polygamy, marriage, and divorce.
Islamabad became the new capital in 1962. The new constitution called for elections, and martial law was lifted. Khan won the majority of the vote and introduced the concept of basic democracy. Khan was not in favor of giving autonomy to the people of East Pakistan. He imprisoned the leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1920-75) many times. The Bengalis were alienated over their marginalization from West Pakistan. In foreign policy, he continued the policy of maintaining very close relations with the United States and China. Pakistan, along with Iran and Turkey, developed close relations via the Regional Cooperation for Development.
The most important event during the authoritarian regime of Khan was the war between India and Pakistan. In March 1965, there were border skirmishes in the Rann of Kutch region. Thanks to British mediation, the conflict was contained. Kashmir remained the cause of conflict between the two neighbors. Khan ordered Operation Gibraltar in August, and infiltrators were sent to Kashmir. The Indian premier Lal Bahadur Shastri (1904-66) gave a befitting reply to the Pakistani invasion of August 1965 and the Indian Army reached the outskirts of Lahore. The cease-fire became effective after intervention by the United Nations Security Council in September. Khan and Shastri met in Tashkent because of the initiative of the Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin (1904-80). The signing of the Tashkent Declaration on January 10, 1966, witnessed both the armies going back to positions held before August 5, 1965. The ceasefire line became the de facto border between Pakistan and India. Khan was blamed for Pakistan's debacle and held responsible for sacrificing Pakistan's interest.
Khan lost support from the majority of the population. His foreign minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1928-79), resigned and formed the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in 1967. The country's economy was badly affected by the war, and political unrest galvanized clamorings for Khan's ouster. In East Pakistan, the Awami League vehemently criticized the repressive regime of Khan. A Democratic Action Committee was formed in January 1969 to restore democracy in Pakistan. Khan resigned, martial law was imposed on March 25, 1969, and General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan (1917-80) became the chief martial law administrator. Khan wrote an autobiography, Friends Not Masters: A Political Autobiography. He died on April 19, 1974.
Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali , India-Pakistan Wars , Pakistan
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