Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yahya Khan (1917-1980)

General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan was born at Chakwal in Feb. 1917.His father Saadak Ali Khan, was actually from Peshawar. After finishing his studies at the Punjab University, Yahya Khan joined the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. He was commissioned  in the Indian Army in 1918.His early postings were in he NWFP. During WWII, he performed his duties in North Africa, Iraq, and Italy.  After Independence, Yahya Khan played a major role in setting up Pakistan Staff college at Quetta. During the war of 1965, he commanded an infantry division. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army in 1966 with the rank of General.
An infantry officer Yahya saw action during WW II in North Africa where he was captured by the Axis power in June 1942 and interned in a prisoner of war camp in Italy from where he escaped in the third attempt.
In 1947,he was instrumental in not letting the Indian officers shifting the books from the famous library of the British Indian Staff College at Quetta, where Yahya was posted at the only Muslim instructor at the time of Partition of India. He was deployed in Kashmir in 1951-52. Later he was selected as deputy Chief of General Staff from 1958 to 1962 from where he went on to command an infantry division from 1962-1965.
After being Commander-in-Chief he reorganised  the Pakistan Army in 1965. Soon after the war, between India and Pakistan, had started, US had imposed an embargo on military aid on both India and Pakistan.
At the end of 1960s Ayub Khan relinquished his charges to Yahya Khan due to mass scale resentment against Ayub.
Yahya Khan dissolved both the assemblies of State and Center and Promised to hand over charges to elected persons.
Yahya announced in his broadcast  to the nation on 28 July 1969, his firm intention to redress Bengali grievances, the first major step in this direction being, the doubling of Bengali quota in the defence services.
Within a year he had set up a framework for elections that were held in Dec. 1970.
In East Pakistan, the Awami League (led by Mujibur Rahman ) held almost all of the seats, but none in West Pakistan. In West Pakistan , the Pakistan People's Party (led by Zulfikar Ali Bhtto) won the lion's share of the seats, but none in East Pakistan. Although AL had 162 seats in the National Assembly against 88 of PPP, this led to a situation where Bhutto would have to give up powerand allow Mujib to become th Prime Minister of Pakistan. Yahya could not reach a compromise , and a massive campaign of genocide, named "Operation Searchlight" took place.This resulted a total of 3 million people in east pakistan were wiped out and another 400,000 women were brutally raped. On the genocide Yahya quoted " Kill 3 million of them (Bangladeshi), and the rest will eat out of our hands."
But ultimately a war netween East and West Pakistan took place. Withn the help of India Bangladesh won freedom.
Yahya had to surrendor to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Yahya died in Aug 1980.