Ayub Khan (Field Marshal)

Ayub Khan (Field Marshal)
Field Marshal
Ayub Khan
محمد ایوب خان
Ayub Khan in Germany, 1961.
2nd President of Pakistan
In office
27 October 1958 – 25 March 1969
Lieutenant Admiral Syed M. Ahsonn
Preceded by Iskander Mirza
Succeeded by General Yahya Khan
1st Chief Martial Law Administrator
In office
7 October, 1958 – June 18, 1966
President Iskander Mirza
Prime Minister Ferose Noon
Preceded by Office Created
Succeeded by General Yahya Khan
3rd Army Commander-in-Chief
In office
January 16, 1951 – October 26, 1958
Preceded by General Sir Douglas Gracey
Succeeded by General Muhammad Musa
4th Defence Minister of Pakistan
In office
24 October, 1954 – 11 August, 1955
Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad
Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Bogra
Deputy Akhter Husain
Succeeded by General Chaudhry Muhammad Ali
Personal details
Born 14 May 1907(1907-05-14)
Haripur, North-West Frontier Province, India
Died 19 April 1974(1974-04-19) (aged 66)
Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory
Political party Muslim League
Children Gohar Ayub Khan (Son)
Omar Ayub Khan (grandson)
Nasim Aurangzeb (daughter)
Alma mater Aligarh Muslim University (Incomplete)
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Military service
Allegiance British Raj Red Ensign.svg British India
Flag of Pakistan.svg Pakistan
Service/branch British Indian Army
 Pakistan Army
Years of service 1928–1958
Rank US-O11 insignia.svg Field Marshal
Unit 14th Punjab Regiment
Commands Brigade in Waziristan
14th Infantry Division, Dhaka
Adjutant General (AG)
Deputy Commander-in-Chief
Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army
Battles/wars World war II
Waziristan war
Burmese war
Indo-Pakistani war of 1965
Awards Hilal-e-Jurat

Muhammad Ayub Khan (Urdu: محمد ایوب خان), N.Pk., H.Pk., HJ, psc, (May 14, 1907 – April 19, 1974) was a 5-star rank General[citation needed] and later self-appointed Field Marshal in the Pakistan Army and the first military dictator, and Chief Martial Law Administrator of Pakistan, serving as the second President of Pakistan from 1958 to 1969. He became the Pakistan Army's first native Commander in Chief in 1951, and was the youngest full general and self-appointed five-star field marshal in Pakistan.

Appointed Commander in Chief after the death of several senior generals, a combination of ambition and his distaste for politicians led to his increased interference in Pakistani politics. Close to President Iskander Mirza, Khan supported the President's decision to declare martial law in 1958 but had ousted him shortly afterwards, becoming increasingly frustrated by the level of corruption, he overthrew the government and declared himself President.[1]


Early years and personal life

Ayub Khan was born on May 14, 1907, in Haripur[2] British India, in the village of Rehana near the Haripur District of the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa).[3] He was ethnically a Pashtun[4] (or Pathan[2]) of the Tareen tribe,[5] although a Hindko speaker. He was the first child of the second wife of Mir Dad Khan Tareen, who was a Risaldar-Major (senior regimental non-commissioned officer) in Hodson's Horse, a cavalry regiment of the pre-independence Indian Army.

For his basic education, Ayub was enrolled in a school in Sarai Saleh, which was about four miles from his village and he commuted to school on a mule's back. Later he was moved to a school in Haripur, where lived with his grandmother. He enrolled at Aligarh Muslim University in 1922, but did not complete his studies there, as he was accepted into the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.[6]

Military career

Muhammad Ali Jinnah with GOC East Pakistan Ayub Khan in 1948.

Ayub Khan did well at Sandhurst and was given an officer's commission in the Indian Army on 2 February 1928 and then joined the 1st Battalion of the 14th Punjab Regiment (Sherdils), later known as 5th Punjab Regiment. During the Second World War, he served as a Lieutenant Colonel on the Burma front, commanding the 1st Battalion of 14th Punjab Regiment. Following the war, he joined the fledgling Pakistani Army as the 10th ranking senior officer (his Pakistan Army number was 10). He was promoted to Brigadier and commanded a brigade in Waziristan and then in 1948 was sent with the local rank of Major General to East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh) as General Officer Commanding of 14th Infantry division responsible for the whole East Wing of Pakistan, for which non-combatant service he was awarded the Hilal-i-Jurat (HJ). He returned to West Pakistan in November 1949 as Adjutant General of the Army and then was briefly Deputy Commander-in-Chief.

Chief of Army Staff

General Ayub Khan arriving to take command of the Pakistan Army in 1951

Ayub Khan succeeded General Sir Douglas Gracey as Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army on January 17, 1951, becoming the first native Pakistani general to hold that position. Therefore, he superseded two of his seniors, Maj Gen Muhammed Akbar Khan and Maj Gen N.A.M. Raza.[7] Ayub Khan was promoted to C-in-C only due to the death of Maj Gen Iftikhar Khan, who was nominated as the first native C-in-C, but died in an air-crash en route to his C-in-C training in the UK. Iskandar Mirza, Secretary of Defence, was instrumental in Ayub's promotion, commencing a relationship in which Mirza became Governor General of the Dominion of Pakistan and later President of Pakistan, when it became a republic on March 23, 1956. The events surrounding his appointment set the precedent for a Pakistani general being promoted out of turn, ostensibly because he was the least ambitious of the Generals and the most loyal.[8] Three months before the end of his tenure as Commander-in-Chief, Ayub Khan deposed his mentor, Iskandar Mirza, Pakistan's President, in a military coup - after Mirza had declared martial law and made Ayub martial law commander.[9]

Defence Minister

He would later go on to serve in the second cabinet (1954) of Muhammad Ali Bogra as Defence Minister, and when Iskander Mirza declared martial law on October 7, 1958, Ayub Khan was made its chief martial law administrator. Azam Khan (general), Nawab Amir Mohammad Khan and Sandhurst trained General Wajid Ali Khan Burki were instrumental in Ayub Khan's Rise to power. This would be the first of many instances in the history of Pakistan of the military becoming directly involved in politics.

President of Pakistan (1958–1969)

President Ayub Khan and Nawab of Kalabagh with Principal Khan Anwar Sikander Khan.

As a result of his having control of the Pakistan Army, Ayub deposed Mirza on October 27 in a bloodless coup, sending Generals Wajid Burki, Azam, and Sheikh in the middle of the night to pack Mirza off to exile in England. This was actually welcomed in Pakistan, since the nation had experienced a very unstable political climate since independence.

In 1960, he held an indirect referendum of his term in power. Functioning as a kind of electoral college, close to 80,000 recently elected village councilmen were allowed to vote yes or no to the question: "Have you confidence in the President, Field Marshal Mohammed Ayub Khan?" Winning 95.6% of the vote, he used the confirmation as impetus to formalise his new system.

In July 1961, Ayub paid a visit to the United States, accompanied by his daughter Begum Nasir Akhtar Aurangzeb. Highlights of his visit included a state dinner at Mount Vernon, a visit to the Islamic Center of Washington, and a ticker tape parade in New York City.[10]

Ayub Khan with Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of then U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1962.

Ayub moved to have a constitution created, and this was completed in 1961. A fairly secular person by nature, Ayub Khan's constitution reflected his personal views of politicians and the use of religion in politics.

In 1962, he pushed through a new constitution that while it did give due respect to Islam, it did not declare Islam the state religion of the country. It also provided for election of the President by 80,000 (later raised to 120,000) Basic Democrats—men who could theoretically make their own choice but who were essentially under his control. He justified this as analogous to the Electoral College in the United States and cited Thomas Jefferson as his inspiration. The government "guided" the press though his take over of key opposition papers and, while Ayub permitted a National Assembly, it had only limited powers.

Legal reforms

Ayub Khan introduced the Muslim Family Laws through an Ordinance on March 2, 1961 under which unmitigated polygamy was abolished, consent of the current wife was made mandatory for a second marriage, brakes were also placed on the practice of instant divorce where men would divorce women by saying "I divorce you" three times. The Arbitration Councils set up under the law in the urban and rural areas were to deal with cases of (a) grant of sanction to a person to contract a second marriage during the subsistence of a marriage; (b) reconciliation of a dispute between a husband and a wife; (c) grant maintenance to the wife and children.[11]

Presidential election of 1965

In 1964, Ayub confident in his apparent popularity and seeing deep divisions within the political opposition, called for Presidential elections.

He was however taken by surprise when despite a brief disagreement between the five main opposition parties ( a preference for a former close associate of Ayub Khan, General Azam Khan as candidate was dropped), the joint opposition agreed on supporting the respected and popular Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Despite Jinnah's considerable popularity and public disaffection with Ayub's government,[12] Ayub won with 64% of the vote in a bitterly contested election on January 2, 1965. The election did not conform to international standards and journalists. It is widely held, that the elections were rigged in favour of Ayub Khan using state patronage and intimidation to influence the indirectly elected electoral college. In the aftermath of the elections his son Gohar Ayub was involved in a major clash with opposition activists in their stronghold of Karachi.

Government overview

Field Marshal Ayub Khan in Germany on January 22, 1961.

As President, Ayub Khan allied Pakistan with the global U.S. military alliance against the Soviet Union. This in turn led to major economic aid from the U.S. and European nations, and the industrial sector of Pakistan grew very rapidly, improving the economy, but the consequences of cartelization included increased inequality in the distribution of wealth. It was under Ayub Khan that the capital was moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi, in anticipation of the construction of a new capital: Islamabad. In 1960, Khan's government signed the Indus Waters Treaty with archrival India to resolve disputes regarding the sharing of the waters of the six rivers in the Punjab Doab that flow between the two countries. Khan's administration also built a major network of irrigation canals, high-water dams and thermal and hydroelectric power stations.[13]

Despite the Indus Waters Treaty, Ayub maintained icy relations with India. He established close political and military ties with socialist China, exploiting its differences with Soviet Russia and its 1962 war with India. To this day, China remains a strong economic, political and military ally of Pakistan.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

The turning point in his rule was the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, and it ended in a settlement reached by Ayub at Tashkent, called the Tashkent Declaration. The settlement was perceived negatively by many Pakistanis and led Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to resign his post and take up opposition to Khan.[14] According to Morrice James, "For them [Pakistanis] Ayub had betrayed the nation and had inexcusably lost face before the Indians."[15] The war also increased opposition in East Pakistan [Now Bangladesh] where the Awami League headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sought more autonomy for the province.

General Ayub Khan, who had assumed office of the commander in chief in 1951, supported Governor General Ghulam Muhammad when he dismissed the first constituent assembly on the grounds "The constituent assembly being power hungry and having a tendency of being corrupt." Moulvi Tamizuddin, the first speaker of the assembly, challenged the dismissal (he had to take a rickshaw, wear a burka and go through Sindh court backdoor to seek justice for a nation). Sindh court accepted the appeal but the Federal Court dismissed the Sindh court judgment as the "Doctrine of necessity". Later on the decision has been the basis of all autocratic adjustments in Pakistan.

These were the years when Pakistan allowed the US to establish a USAF communications monitoring facility near Peshawar at Badaber and use its air space and air bases to conduct high-altitude spy-flights over the USSR. Due to this, and the soon-to-follow U2 incident led Pakistan into an open hostility with the USSR.

Refusal to expand nuclear programmes

In 1956, Government of Prime Minister Huseyn Suhravardy established the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and launched the nuclear energy programme under the auspices of Dr. Nazir Ahmad. In 1958, when General Ayub Khan seized the office and imposed martial law in Pakistan, Khan had limited the research facilities of PAEC based on economic grounds. Khan's military government repeatedly vetoed the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission's proposal to lead the establishment of national nuclear laboratories and the growth of nuclear power plants. Because of Abdus Salam's influence on Ayub Khan, Salam had succeeded into convincing him to personally approve a nuclear power plant— against the wishes of his own military government. However, despite Abdus Salam's efforts, Ayub Khan rejected further proposals made by the Abdus Salam, and the PAEC to set up a nuclear reprocessing plant in 1968.[16]

In 1965, after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Pakistani scientists working at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) became aware of Indian nuclear programme as they had visited Indian nuclear facilities as part of IAEA inspection teams. Pakistani IAEA scientists quickly notified of Indian development to Foreign Office of Pakistan.[17] On December 11, 1965, Munir Ahmad Khan personally met with Foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto at the Dorchester Hotel in London where Munir Ahmad Khan had Bhutto to came to acknowledged about Indian nuclear programme.[17] Bhutto then quickly managed a meeting with President the same night. At Dorchester Hotel, Ayub Khan had a brief meeting with Munir Ahmad Khan.[17] The two had met in private and alone sensing the sensitivity of this discussion, the doors were remained lock.[17] In this meeting, Munir Ahmad Khan clearly told Ayub Khan that Pakistan must acquire the necessary facilities that would give the country a nuclear deterrent capability, which were available free of safeguards and at an affordable cost.[17] Munir Ahmad Khan also told President Ayub Khan that there were no restrictions on nuclear technology, that it was freely available, and that India and Israel were moving forward in deploying it.[17]

When asked about the economics of such programme, Munir Ahmad Khan estimated the cost of nuclear technology at that time as not more than 150 million dollars.[17] Ayub Khan listened to him very patiently, but at the end of the meeting remained unconvinced.[17] Ayub Khan refused Munir Ahmad Khan's offer and said that Pakistan was too poor to spend that much money.[17] Moreover, if we ever need the bomb, we will buy it off the shelf.[17]

Joint Defence Unionswith India

President Ayub Khan made an offer of joint defence with India during the India-China clashes in October 1959 in Ladakh, in a move seen as a result of american pressure and lack of understanding of Foreign affairs [18]

Space programme

In 1961 Abdus Salam succeeded in convincing Khan to lead the establishment of Pakistan's National Space Agency, the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) on September 16, 1961. Ayub Khan appointed Abdus Salam as its director, and due to Salam's efforts the National Aeronautics and Space Administration began training Pakistani scientists and engineers in NASA headquarters. Abdus Salam had appointed a noted aeronautical engineer and military scientist, General W. J. M. Turowicz, as Pakistan's Rocket Programme head. General Turowicz's work led Pakistan to develop its own ballistic missile series in the future. General Turowicz had led a series of Rehbar Sounding Rockets fired from Pakistani soil. The military government of Ayub Khan had restricted the space activities in the country, and further denied the proposals of establishing space centers all over the country. Even the Flight Test Center was financed and built by the United States' NASA when Khan had declined to set up the funding programme for SUPARCO.

Final years in office

In 1969, he opened up negotiations with the opposition alliance, except for Maulana Bhashani and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. However under increasing pressure from Bhutto and Bhashani who were allegedly encouraged to continue the agitation by elements within the Army and in violation of his own constitution which required him to transfer power to the speaker of the assembly, Ayub turned over control of Pakistan to Commander in Chief General Yahya Khan on 25 March 1969, He was the President's most loyal lieutenant, and was promoted over seven more senior generals in 1966 to the army's top post.


Ayub Khan's legacy is mixed. He was opposed to democracy believing like any other dictator that parliamentary democracy was not suited for the people of his country. Like many subsequent military dictators[citation needed] he was contemptuous of politicians and political parties. However, during his early years in office, he sided with the Americans against the Soviets, and in return received aid, which resulted in enormous economic growth.

He subsidized fertilizers and modernized agriculture through irrigation development, spurred industrial growth with liberal tax benefits. In the decade of his rule, gross national product rose by 45% and manufactured goods began to overtake such traditional exports as jute and cotton. It is alleged that his policies were tailored to reward the elite families and the feudal lords.[who?] During the fall of his dictatorship, just when the government was celebrating the so-called "Decade of Development", mass protests erupted due an increasingly greater divide between the rich and the poor.

He shunned prestige projects and stressed birth control in a country that has the seventh largest population in the world: 115 million. He dismissed criticism with the comment that if there was no family planning, the time would surely come when "Pakistanis eat Pakistanis." In foreign affairs, he retained his ties to the West and to the United States in particular, allowing the United States to use the Badaber and Peshawar airbase for U-2 flights over the then Soviet Union.


Government corruption and nepotism, in addition to an environment of repression of free speech and political freedoms increased unrest. Criticisms of his sons and family's personal wealth increased, especially his son's actions after his father's election in the allegedly rigged 1965 Presidential elections against Fatima Jinnah is a subject of criticism by many writers. In 2003, the nephew of the Quaid-i-Azam, Akbar Pirbhai, reignited the controversy by suggesting that she was assassinated by the Ayub Khan establishment .[19][20][21] Gohar Ayub, it is said led a victory parade right into the heartland of opposition territory in Karachi in a blatantly provocative move and the civil administrations failure to stop the rally led to a fierce clashes between opposing groups with many locals being killed.[22] Gohar Ayub also faced criticisms during that time on questions of family corruption and cronyism through his business links with his father-in-law retired Lt. General Habibullah Khan Khattak. One Western commentator in 1969 estimated Gohar Ayub's personal wealth at the time at $4 million dollars, while his family's wealth was put in the range of $10–$20 million dollars.[23]

Ayub began to lose both power and popularity. On one occasion, while visiting East Pakistan, there was a failed attempt to assassinate him, though this was not reported in the press of the day.[24]

Ayub was persuaded by underlings to award himself the Nishan-e-Pakistan, Pakistan's highest civil award, on the grounds that to award it to other heads of state he should have it himself and also promoted himself to the rank of Field Marshal. He was to be Pakistan's first Field Marshal (and the only 5 star general till date).

Aggravating an already bad situation, with increasing economic disparity in the country under his rule, hoarding and manipulation by major sugar manufacturers resulted in the controlled price of 1 kg sugar to be increased by 1 rupee and the whole population took to the streets.[25] As Ayub's popularity plummeted, he decided in 1969 to give up rule.


In 1971 when war broke out, Ayub Khan was in West Pakistan. He presented himself for fighting in war but government turned him down on account of his age and ill-health[citation needed]. He did not comment on the events of the war. He died in 1974[citation needed].

Ayub Khan’s eldest son Gohar Ayub Khan was Pakistan's Foreign Minister in the Nawaz Sharif government and his grandson Omar Ayub Khan was briefly Pakistan’s Minister of State for Finance. His daughter Begum Nasim Aurangzeb was married to Miangul Aurangzeb, the Wali of Swat.[26]

See also


  1. ^ http://pkpolitics.com/2011/05/25/kal-tak-25-may-2011/
  2. ^ a b Conflict between India and Pakistan: an encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. 2008. p. 23. ISBN 1576077128, 9781576077122. http://books.google.com/books?id=vLwOck15eboC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA23#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  3. ^ "Muhammad Ayub Khan". Storyofpakistan.com. http://www.storyofpakistan.com/person.asp?perid=P017. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  4. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (2004). A history of Pakistan and its origins. Anthem Press. p. 69. ISBN 1843311496, 9781843311492. http://books.google.com/books?id=Q9sI_Y2CKAcC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA69#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  5. ^ Hussain, Rizwan (2005). Pakistan and the emergence of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 74. ISBN 0754644340, 9780754644347. http://books.google.com/books?id=TRW_M_xybyYC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA74#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  6. ^ Karl J. Newman: Pakistan unter Ayub Khan, Bhutto und Zia-ul-Haq. S. 31, ISBN 3-8039-0327-0
  7. ^ Brig A.R. Siddiqui. "Army's top slot: the seniority factor" Dawn, 25 April 2004
  8. ^ The rule of seniority by Kamal Zafar Sunday March 5, 2006 The Nation
  9. ^ The Pakistan Coup d'etat 1958 by Waynes Ayres Wilcox
  10. ^ "America Welcomes President Ayub". Gordon Wilkison Collection. Texas Archive of the Moving Image. July. http://www.texasarchive.org/library/index.php?title=America_Welcomes_President_Ayub&gsearch=ayub. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  11. ^ "ISLAMIC PAKISTAN: ILLUSIONS & REALITY by Abdul Sattar Ghazali". Ghazali.net. http://ghazali.net/book1/chapter_4.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  12. ^ Friday, Dec. 25, 1964 (1964-12-25). "Trouble with Mother. Time Magazine Friday, December 25, 1964". Time.com. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,830952,00.html. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  13. ^ Khan, Muhammad Ayub, "Friends Not Masters", Oxford University Press, 1967
  14. ^ "Story of Pakistan". Story of Pakistan. http://www.storyofpakistan.com/person.asp?perid=P017&Pg=3. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  15. ^ Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War By Victoria Schofield Published 2003, by I.B.Tauris ISBN 1860648983 pp112
  16. ^ Shahid-ur-Rehman, "Z.A. Bhutto, A Man in Hurry for the Bomb," Long Road To Chagai, pp21
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Pakistan Military Consortium". www.PakDef.info. http://www.pakdef.info/nuclear&missile/speech_munirahmed.html. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  18. ^ http://archives.dawn.com/archives/31374
  19. ^ New twist to Miss Jinnah controversy - Dawn Pakistan
  20. ^ http://fatimajinnah.com/index.php?page=profile
  21. ^ http://www.pakistanherald.com/newprofile.aspx?hofid=1174
  22. ^ (Mazari 1999)
  23. ^ (Pick April 1969)
  24. ^ Hassan Abbas (2004). Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America's War on Terror. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-7656-1497-9. , pp53
  25. ^ "Comrade Stalin and the sugar question by Ayaz Amir May 26, 2006". Dawn.com. 2006-05-26. http://www.dawn.com/weekly/ayaz/20060526.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-29. [dead link]
  26. ^ "Photo Archive: Ayub Khan visits the US (1961)". The Friday Times. 2011-09-16. http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20110916&page=30. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 

Further reading

  • Diaries of Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan, 1966–1972 Mohammad Ayub Khan

Oxford University Press

  • Khan, Muhammad Ayub, "Friends Not Masters", Oxford University Press, 1967
  • Cloughley, Brian, "A History of the Pakistan Army" Oxford University Press, third edition 2006, Chapter 2, "Ayub Khan, Adjutant General to President."

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Douglas Gracey
Chief of Army Staff
Succeeded by
Muhammad Musa
Political offices
Preceded by
Muhammad Ali Bogra
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Chaudhry Muhammad Ali
Preceded by
Iskandar Mirza
Chief Martial Law Administrator
Succeeded by
Yahya Khan
Preceded by
Iskander Mirza
President of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Yahya Khan
Preceded by
Muhammad Ayub Khuhro
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Afzal Rahman Khan
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Khan Habibullah Khan Marwat
Minister of the Interior
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Chaudhry Ali Akbar Khan

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