Ayub Khan, Field Marshal

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Ayub Khan: 1966-1972

May 06, 2007

EXCERPT: Nails in the coffin


Ayub Khan
Ayub Khan

A compilation of diary entries maintained by Field Marshal Ayub Khan from September 1966 to October 1972, which cover a very turbulent period of change and transition in Pakistan’s history.

Field Marshal Ayub Khan records some of his impressions of the political atmosphere in 1972

Tuesday (August 1)

I have not written for a week, not because nothing new has been happening in the country but it has been of a repetitive nature. General dissatisfaction with Bhutto, posters and demonstrations, especially in Lahore. Bhutto has been on a tour of Sindh. He visited several places mostly by helicopter and addressed people in town halls etc, which were heavily guarded. He tried to justify passage of the language bill in Sindh and also had some softening words for the Urdu-speaking people. I heard Bhutto say that nobody, not even anybody’s grandfather, can remove him from his chair. But should he be compelled to leave, he shall see to it that Pakistan goes up in flames. Sensible people told me that there will be a real class-war by September. Bhutto wants it. The man must be mad if this is so. After all, he is in power. What more does he want? I should have thought that it would be in his interest to have peace and calm in the country. I hear Bhutto has become very allergic to my name. He goes mad when he hears it. The fool does not realise I have no more political ambitions.

Wednesday (August 2)

Heard that Asghar Khan’s house in Abbottabad was burnt down. Whether it was a deliberate act of political vandalism or accident is not yet known but it is not beyond General Akbar and people like that who happened to be in Abbottabad that day to have indulged in such foul play. He had held meetings with his party workers in Hazara the day before.

Friday (August 4)

Abdullah Khan Rokhri came to give Wali Khan’s message to the same effect as Ali Asghar Shah had given that I should take more precautions about my safety as Bhutto, in conjunction with Khar, had decided that I should be bumped off. He said opposition to Bhutto and his party was growing. He said it was pathetic to see the type of men that represent the People’s Party in the provincial assembly. He said that intensity of protest against Bhutto in the Punjab is growing. Yesterday the lawyers carried out a bare-foot march against him in Lahore.

Saturday (August 5)

Apparently Bhutto is well assured of the loyalty of the army which is how it should be. He could not, of course, find a better goof than General Tikka Khan. But the army has never been a threat to any politician until they make a mess of the country. Then it becomes a survival and rescue operation, and if the survivors are incapable of carrying it out, some junior will take the jump. This is the common experience of most new countries.

I understand that Bhutto sent for General Tikka Khan and told him that he had concrete evidence that he was planning to overthrow him. General Tikka Khan said before he, Bhutto, went any further he would give him the true story. Some politicians had approached him with the proposal to remove Bhutto. His answer was that the army was not interested in any such thing but he wanted also to make it clear that the army would not shoot down peaceful demonstrators.

I understand General Tikka Khan flew to Nawabshah to receive Bhutto. On arrival the crowd showered him with flower petals. They must have been Urdu-speakers.

I am told that former Major General Akbar Khan of the Rawalpindi conspiracy fame sees the Russian ambassador every other day. I am sure he must be seeking their assistance for his plans. He has also caused a lengthy proforma to be filled by every army officer to ascertain his connections and political reliability. Why the army chief is allowing this, I cannot understand. Intelligence anticipates that the country would almost be in a state of civil war by the end of the year.

Tuesday (August 8)

I hear that the burning of Asghar Khan’s house was an act of sabotage. It has been burnt down completely and is a total loss. On hearing the news of the burning, Bhutto rang up the deputy commissioner and told him to issue a statement saying that the loss was negligible, worth about 15,000 rupees. The deputy commissioner checked up with the governor who told him to refrain from doing any such thing. The police investigation is continuing. I understand Bhutto is preparing a speech of six and a half hours for the assembly due to meet on the 14th.

Saturday (August 12)

A confidant of Bhutto, who is the chairman of the Press Trust, which is completely under government control, is going about selling the idea that in Kashmir, India should get Jammu, Pakistan Azad Kashmir and the valley to become independent. Then the valley, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh should form a confederation. He might well be voicing Bhutto’s views.

Monday (August 14)

Today is Independence Day, normally a day of rejoicing and merry making, but with what face can we do that when the country is in shambles due mainly to the perfidy of Bhutto and his associates. Our policies are destructive, socially we are disorganised and economically in ruins with no hope of recovery as investors are reluctant to invest and workers unwilling to work through ruinous government policies. We have no credit left in the outside world. India and Russia’s shadow is looming large over us. They are ready to take advantage of our weaknesses and disorganisation. So, instead of rejoicing we should seriously engage in introspection as to what has gone wrong with us and what should we do to put it right but I doubt if we would do that. Certainly our rulers won’t be motivated by honest and sincere intentions.

Friday (August 18)

I have heard today that the National Security Council under General Akbar has said that my name is appearing too frequently in the intelligence reports and too many opposition people and journalists were meeting me. So there was need for surveillance over me.

A friend heard this from a reliable source and passed the information on to me. I have told my staff to take precautions against bugging my house. According to today’s news, both Major-General Sher Ali [Pataudi] and Shorish Kashmiri have been arrested. Major-General Sher Ali on the charge of sedition for giving an innocuous speech and Shorish under Defence of Pakistan Rules. These, like many others, are glaring cases of victimisation. The impression one gets is that in Karachi, 90 per cent of people are against Bhutto.

Monday (August 21)

I am told that Bhutto is calling upon members of his party in the assembly to handover undated letters of resignation to him so that undesirable or difficult ones could be eliminated at will. This he did after having failed to have a bill passed that if a party passed a vote of no confidence in a member, he should automatically lose his seat in the assembly.

If any of these measures succeed, the assembly would be reduced to a sham and be completely paralysed, being at the mercy of one man of mercurial, vindictive and dictatorial temperament. He has a huge majority in the house. Most of these owe their seats to him. True, there are some non-conformists amongst them and they open their mouths, but there would always be such people in any party. I suppose he has the jitters where they are concerned and wants to see them out by hook or by crook. But he does not realise that this would be another nail in his coffin.

Excerpted with permission from Diaries of Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan: 1966-1972 Edited and annotated by Craig Baxter Oxford University Press, Plot # 38, Sector 15, Korangi Industrial Area, Karachi Tel: 111-693-673 ouppak@theoffice.net www.oup.com.pk ISBN 978-0-19-547442-8 595pp. Rs795

Craig Baxter, who has a number of books, chapters and articles on South Asia to his credit, is professor emeritus of politics and history at Juniata College, USA.

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