This is official blog of Awami Tahreek, Sindh, Pakistan.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


It is always rewarding to read what one is deeply interested in, specially when written by those who are supposed to know what they are writing about. The man on the horse-back has always been an object of curiosity, wonder and admiration for lesser mortals. The writings of world renowned generals like sun Zu, Julius Caeser, Babar, Napoleon, Rommel, Zhukov, Mao Tse Tung, and Giap have fascinated readers throughout the ages.
In Pakistan Ayoub Khan, whatever else he was or was not, was a man of (good, bad, indifferent, whatever) ideas. He was also a man of what he regarded as (again good, bad r indifferent, whatever) principles. He liked to articulate both. “Friends not masters” was one result. More would be known about his thinking if and when his diary is published.
The debacle of East Pakistan shocked the nation as never before. The impossible had happened. The “Cowardly Bania” had dared to compel our ever-victorious “ghaziz”, the descendants of  Khalid-Bin-Walid, Sultan Mohammad Ghaznavi, Taimoor, Mohammad the conqueror and Ahmed Shah Abdali to eat dust.
Some one simply had to explain. And a whole galaxy of our generals valiantly stepped forward to face the displaying varying degrees of professional capability intellectual range and moral courage and integrity.
The opening volley, however, was fired by a officer of a humbler rank.
It was major Siddik Salik’s “Witness to surrender” which opened the pandora box and put every one concerned on notice. Maj: Gen: ® Fazal Muqeem Khan’s “Pakistan’s Crisis In Leader-ship” Maj. Gen: ®  Rao Farman Ali Khan’s “How Pakistan Govt: Divided”, Major Gen: ® Tajamul Hussain Malik’s” The Story of My Struggle”, Ltd. Gen: ® Kamal Matiuddin’s “Tragedy of Errors”, Ltd: Gen: ® Gul Hassan Khan’s “Memoirs” and Lt: Gen: A.K. Niazi’s Urdu Book “Main Ne Hathiar Nahin Dale” (I did not surrender?) throw enough light on the affair to enable relatively more unbiased minds to piece together a more coherent and objective picture of what actually happened. They would do well to consult among other books “Separation of East Pakistan” by Hassan Zaheer which is perhaps a more wide ranging, balanced, thought provoking and scholarly work on the subject than any other work on the subject written up to now. For the political back-ground Altaf Gohar’s “Ayoob Khan” would be found indispensable.
Articles in news-papers by writers belonging to the armed forces are read with keen interest. I have had the good fortune to read articles by Air Marshal ® Zulifqar Ali Khan, Gen ®  Khalid Mahmood Arif and others and I found them informative and thought-provoking.
So when I saw in today’s (8th Nov) “DAWN” an article by Gen: ® Khalid Mahmood Arif entitled “Hallowed Traditions to Preserve”, I read it with interest. I dealt with important matters affecting our fellow-Citizens in the defence services. Who in Pakistan does not envy, if not fear, the military man? For most of us, the Pakistan military is represented either by “Chief-Martial Law Administrator type of awe- inspiring Generals or by all powerful colonels and Majors running the military “COURTS” or by those who more or less “OWN” huge semi-autonomous, bodies, corporations and embassies after retirement or even before and rule over their fiefs and humble subjects like the famous Nawabas and jagirdars of the good old Mughal days.
In most cases it never occurs to us that a military establishment simply could not consist entirely of Chief Martial Law Administrators or for the matter, of mighty Martial Law Majors whose powers of life and death have during the greater part of Pakistan’s history exceeded and superseded those of the highest courts of the country including the Supreme Court itself.
Obviously there are times, how so ever brief and transitory, in our beloved country, when there is neither Martial Law nor Martial Law Administrators or “Courts”. And then, Martial Law or no Martial Law, there are always laks of ordinary soldiers with fixed pay and growing children and liabilities who dread the prospect of a too early retirement and that of having to live on a pittance for a pension, the real value of which gets less and less with growing inflation. If some one connected with government service needs relief more than anyone else, it is the poor pensioner. It s beyond comprehension, therefore, why pay and pension committee report 1994 has not been made applicable to the pensioners, as printed but by General Khalid Mahmood Arif in this article.
Anther point to which the General has pointed, is equally important.
The humblest government employee has a right to know the actual date of his retirement much before the fateful day. That the Service Chiefs are entitled to this knowledge goes without saying. Every one will agree with General Khalid Mahmood Arif that the need for extending such a courtesy to the Service Chiefs is greater as they have to visit formations and troops to say good-bye to their commands”.
Further on, he makes a point of even greater importance and wider applicability. “Needless to say  that the retirement of service chiefs with Visible dignity (italics mine), promotes confidence of the troops in their commanders and of the people in the defence services.....”
He laments “Strangely this tradition is not well followed in the country”. This lament will find on echo in more hearts than perhaps even the good general himself may imagine.
For, “retirement with dignity” is the right, not only of service chiefs but of all public officials including the superiors of the Service Chiefs viz the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces/President of Pakistan and the Head of the Government of Pakistan/ Prime Minister of Pakistan. It is, therefore, incumbent upon all concerned and responsible, that all public officials both in the civil and defence service are enabled to retire with “Visible dignity”, so that confidence in national institutions is promoted.
That, as observed with sorrow by General Arif, “this tradition is not well followed in this country” is a fact too obvious to need any greater proof than a mere look at our history of nearly half a century.
Few of our Governor Generals/Presidents/Supreme Commanders of Armed Forces, Heads of Government /Prime Ministers, Chief Justice and Judges of the Superior Courts and Service chiefs have been enabled/allowed to retire from public service with any dignity whether visible or invisible.
The father of the nation, the great Qaid and the First governor General and Supreme Commander of the armed forces of Pakistan was allowed to lye dying on the road-side near Mauripur in a disgraceful and undignified condition with a broken down ambulance and two old ladies by his side. The first Prime Minster of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan as allowed  to be murdered without any trace to this day of any investigation worth the name. His colleagues were found to be too busy distributing top jobs among themselves to find time to attend to matters relating to his burial. The second Prime Minster of the country, Khwaja Nazim-u-din, was sent packing without a moment’s notice by Governor General Ghulam Mohammad who himself was thrown out of office in a state of semi-madness, uttering filthy abuses to all and sundry.
“the Governor General was lying in his bed room....... He was........ emitting volleys of abuse ..... Choudhri Muhammad Ali ventured to say something and received a volley; then Iskandar Mirza said something and got another”, (‘Friends not master’ by Mohamamd Ayoub Khan, P.52).
Behind these mad and abusive bureaucrats stood the Army chief and it was he actually, who was colling the tune in Pakistan at the time “Ayoub Khan was now recognized as the man behind the throne” (“Ayoub Khan” by Altaf Gouhar P. 96).
Iskandar Mirza followed Ghulam Mohammad and a whole bunch of Prime Ministers was brought in and kicked out in disgrace till it was the turn of the Supreme Commander of the Pakistan Armed Forces. president of Pakistan, major General Iskandar Mirza himself to be booted out by his subordinate General Ayoub Khan whom he, more than anyone else, had helped to become the Army Chief. “Brigadier Nawazish went to Mirza’s bedrooms and knocked on the door...... As he entered the room Mirza said, “You know that has happened now” Begum Mirza.... walked upto Brigadier Nawazish and said “Is this what we deserve?”.......... The President’s house was surrounded by the army, the whole operation was under  the control of Brigadier Bahadur Sher who was going around with a Pistol in his hand” (“Ayoub Khan” by Altaf Gouhar, P. 154-155). Nor was the self appointed field Martial allowed to “retire with dignity” by his own subordinate generals.
“There he (information  Secretary) found Yahya and three of his generals, Hameed Peerzada and Gul Hassan huddled around the radio set, listening to Ayoub’s broad-cast (handing over power to General Yahya.) They looked like a bunch of thieves bending over the booty and were a little startled as if caught red, handed. “Ayoub Khan by Altaf Gouhar” P. 477-78).
“Ayoub Khan expected to stay in the President’s house for three months and to retain his personal staff.... every morning Yahya and his staff officers would pass by the house and find the old man sitting on the lawn. His presence was a constant reminder of their crime.... (General) Peerzada conveyed it to Ayoub that his presence was causing annoyance to the people and it was in his interest to leave..... Ayoub came out of the house and walked towards the car looking lonely and abandoned. On his Sculptured face the dark lines of emotional stress were deeply engraved (“Ayoub Khan” by Altaf Gouhar P. 481-82).
If a former Service Chief is to be believed, and there is no reason why he should not be, General Yahya’s exit would have been even much more undignified and disastrous for Pakistan than it actually was, if what appeared to be an extremely sinister plot in offing, had not been foiled in time.
It appears that 3-days after the ignominious surrender at Dhaka an 16th December 1971, General Yahya had, on 19th December 1971, sent a plane to Rome to fetch Mr. Bhutto for the transfer of power to elected representatives. But had things worked the way some generals of General Yahya’s staff, led by the chief of staff of the Army, appear to have been planning, what Mr. Bhutto received would have been something quite different from a guard of honor and the transfer of power he was supposed the receive.
It would be better to let Lt. General Gul Hassan himself tell his story of that dangerous plot on that fateful day:
“Around 2300 hours, I was thinking of packing up and going home, when I was informed that Brigadier Ghulam Mohammad wished to see me urgently.... He was then commanding our Special Service Group (SSG),  the equivalent of commandos.... he was not quite his  usual self..... He came out with a starting revelation to which I would not have readily attached credence had the person conveying it not been G.M. He said: ‘About an hour ago I was sent for by the QMG, General Mitha.... he wished a company of the SSG moved to Rawalpindi as soon as possible for the protection of the President, COS, and GHQ.... He then casually put in that the COS was aware of the matter and had under scored its urgency. So I should instruct the company commander to report to him for directions. I regretted that unless sanctioned by the CGS, no SSG personnel could be moved. He cast a stern gaze at me and I decided that before any unpleasantness set in, I should leave.’
“I told GM he had done exactly what I would have, had I been in his place. Firstly, I, the CGS, Knew nothing about the requirement. Two, I did not see the need for SSG to be employed to protect the personages in question, who were adequately guarded as it was. GHQ by no stretch of imagination required such highly specialized security. If he received any more such Summons from anyone, he should come to me first. At this, GM left my office, Somewhat relived.... General Mitha had raised the SSG when we became the recipients of US military aid in the fifties, and he regarded himself as the father figure of that unit. GM had served under him. Mitha was a shrewd man.... He was on intimate terms with General Hammed and invariably referred to him as “Han”......
“After our meeting with the President earlier that evening, the COS, as was his wont, met with his cronies, Mitha being the linchpin in that congregation. This august gathering was aware that a drastic change was in the offing. Bhutto, after the completion of his mission to the UN, had reached Rome, from where he had called Mustafa Khar (Later Governor of the Punjab) asking whether it was safe for him to return to Pakistan. Khar had contacted Air Marshal Rahim Khan, who in turn conveyed the message to the President. The latter instructed the Air Marshal to dispatch a PIA plane to fetch Bhutto. This development was known to the COS but I came to know of it from the Air Marshal some days later. I do not know what role was contemplated for the SSG in Rawalpindi but I can state categorically that the one purpose it was not intended for was to furnish a guard of honor to Bhutto at the airport. Had this drama been staged, it would have smacked of a re-enactment of our military action in Dhaka, whether the President was a pray to his design, I am in no position to say.
General Mitha, with his potent credentials, was the obvious choice to set this plot in train- he was a confident of the COS and, because of his past association with the SSG, it was hopefully envisaged that the CGS could be circumvented. However, whatever was in store for us was averted because GM did not succumb to intimidation.
19 December 1971 was indeed a day that I will never forget- it was the worst I had ever experienced in all my long service. The discipline in the Army was on the verge of snapping and the repugnant odor of anarchy was sin the air. The climate was all the more awesome because there would have been no authority to arrest the rot, should it have set in.  The induction of a company of the SSG, by no stretch of imagination for a Samaritan role, was a move so reckless that, had it materialized, it could have dispatched the country into oblivion. It would also have been a befitting final to Mrs. Ghandhi’s act to restore, all the joy to Pandit Nehru’s heart. (“Memoirs” by Lt. General ® Gul Hassan P 343-45).
How far dignified or otherwise, the retirement of General Gul Hassan and Air Martial Rahim Khan was, has already been noted and commented upon by General Khalid Mahmood Arif himself. What remains to be recalled and noted in this context of maintaining the dignity of high public officials and institutions, is the mode of “retirement” of Presidents Ziaul-Haque and Mohammad Ishaque Khan and Prime Minister Zulifqar Ali Bhutto, Mohammad Khan Junejo, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Mohammad Nawaz Sharif. How some of the Chief Justices and Justices of our Superior Courts, the other pillar of our state, have been “retired with dignity” is a long and painful story.
The institution that has been at the top of the power structure of Pakistan most of the time and in its wings all the time, is that of the armed forces which is supposed to be the most disciplined, the most patriotic, the most dedicated, selfless and high mined institution at the disposal of the country. What we have so far accomplished or not accomplished in all fields of national endeavor, including that of the maintaining the dignity of our highest public officials and national institutions, during the last half a century, has been done, mainly under the leadership and the guidance of this our topmost and all powerful national institution, with of course, ample and indispensable help from our worthy ‘Patriotic’ Politicians, our incorruptible political workers, our ‘God-Loving’ and ‘GodFearing’ Moulanas, our wise and valiant intellectuals, our ‘dedicated public servants, our ‘independent-minded’ press, our ‘enlightened’ public and our noble foreign ‘well-wishers’ and patrons.
Let us see whether we can prevent the situation from getting worse or hopefully, even improve it bit by bit, through our collective efforts in all fields of national concern.
But before we can do anything in this regard.. We shall have to muster up the courage to get ourselves rid of our unholy tradition of national self-delusion, self-righteousness and cynicism and make a fresh by calling a spade, a spade and facing the objective realities. (Published in Daily Dawn)

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