Lt Gen (ret'd) Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan

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Lt Gen (ret'd) Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan:

Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan

Wednesday, April 23, 2008: Yaqub Khan was a unique and multi-talented high-achiever - general, statesman, diplomat, intellectual. He was born in 1920 in the Royal Family of Nawabs of Rampur, India. He first joined the Indian Army and when Pakistan got independence, he migrated to Pakistan and continued to serve in Pakistan Army. While serving in Pakistan Army he rose to the rank of a Leutenant General and served in East Pakistan as the Chief of General Staff, Commander Eastern Command. For a brief period of 1 week he also became the Governor of East Pakistan.

After retiring from Army in 1972 Sahibzada Yaqub Khan served as the Ambassador of Pakistan in USA, USSR and France. From 1982 onwards he was designated as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister in different Governments. Between 1992-97 he also served as United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Western Sahara.

Sahabzada Yaqub Khan is also the founding chairman of Aga Khan University Board of Trustees. In June 2005 Aga Khan University Press published a book called Strategy, diplomacy, humanity, life and work of Sahabzada Yaqub Khan.

Above all, Shahibzada Yaqub Khan was a “personality” in the true sense of the world. In 2005 Abbas Raza wrote a fascinating profile of Yaqoob Khan in the blog Three Quarks Daily, in which he describes Sahibzada Yaqub as “probably the most remarkable man I have ever met.” His account of his meeting with Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan tells much about the man as well as the icon:

Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan

The first time that I met Sahabzada Yaqub Khan about six years ago, he was in Washington and New York as part of a tour of four or five countries (America, Russia, China, Japan, etc.) relations with which are especially important to Pakistan… I had heard and read much about Sahabzada Yaqub and knew his reputation for fierce intellect and even more intimidating, had heard reports of his impatience with and inability to suffer fools, so I was nervous when I walked in. Over the next couple of hours I was blown away: Sahabzada Yaqub was not much interested in talking about politics, and instead, asked about my doctoral studies in philosophy. It was soon apparent that he had read widely and deeply in the subject, and knew quite a bit about the Anglo-American analytic philosophy I had spent the previous five years reading. He even asked some pointed questions about aspects of philosophy which even some graduate students in the field might not know about, much less laymen. Though we were interrupted by a series of phone calls from the likes of Henry Kissinger wanting to pay their respects while Sahabzada Yaqub was in town, we managed to talk not just about philosophy, but also physics (he wanted to know more about string theory), Goethe (SYK explained some of his little-known scientific work, in addition to quoting and then explicating some difficult passages from Faust), the implications of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, and Urdu literature, of which Sahabzada Yaqub has been a lifelong devotee.

I left late that night dazzled by his brilliance, and elated by his warmth and generosity. Sahabzada Yaqub listens more than he speaks, but when he does speak, he is a raconteur extraordinaire. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to get to know him well, and have spent many a rapt hour in his company. On my last trip to Islamabad, he and his wife and (his son) had me and my wife Margit over for dinner, where upon learning that Margit is from Italy, Sahabzada Yaqub spoke with her in Italian. Then, realizing that she is from the South Tyrol (the German-speaking part of Italy near the Austrian border), he spoke to her in German, giving us a fascinating mini-lecture on German translations of Shakespeare. I can picture him now, emphatically declaiming “Sein oder nicht sein. Das ist hier die frage.”

… Though he has always been fiercely protective of his privacy, politely refusing to write his memoirs despite great public demand (including entreaties over the last few years from me), Sahabzada Yaqub Khan has recently allowed some of his writings to be collected into book form: Strategy, diplomacy, humanity, life and work of Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, compiled and edited by Dr. Anwar Dil, had its launch earlier this month at a ceremony at the Agha Khan University in Karachi.

… Among other things, Sahabzada Yaqub Khan is a true polyglot: he can speak, read and write somewhere between 6 and 10 languages. While he was governor of East Pakistan, he learned Bengali and delivered public addresses in it, which went a long way toward assuaging their concerns of cultural dominance by West Pakistan. He is also a stylishly impeccable dresser (he was voted best-dressed several years in a row by the Washington diplomatic corps). My greatest joy in his company, however, remains his inimitable explications of the deeper philosophical implications buried in Ghalib’s couplets, of which he has been a longtime and enthusiastic student. In short, he is a man with many and diverse qualities.

Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan with his brothers: Yousuf (L), Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan © and Younus ®

Before formally ending the post I want to share couple of photos of Sahabzada Yaqub Khan. The photo above is circa 1922 and Yaqub Khan is sitting in the center. His brother Yousuf is on his right and brother Younus on his left.

Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan with his cousins

The photo above is of Sahabzada Yaqub Khan in a group of cousins and siblings.

This photo is circa 1936 and was taken in Masori, India. People sitting Clockwise in the photo are Lady Abdus Samad Khan (mother of Yaqub Khan), Sahabzada Yousuf Khan, Jahan Ara Habibullah (sister), Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, Fakhra (sister), Masood-uz-Zafar (brother in law) and Sahanzada Younus Khan.


Hasher likes this

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Indeed Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan is one of the best sons of the Nation; he has a firm and stronger personality. Many people do consider that those people are more prominent who are on the show only but many more are there who avoid screens and perform even more than the expected.

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Does any one know if General Saheb is around.

I must admit that he is one of the best intellectuals of Pakistan. He was not only intelligent and fiercely patriotic but had a great eye for the world affairs.. You just cant leave but impressed after meeting him. First time I was introduced to him by my former Sq.Cdr Grp.Capt. Khilji, the Head of the Military Mission in Paris. Ge. Yaqub was was Pakistan's Ambassador to France. I was working for a French Company La Saved which developed many sub-systems for Daphne Class Submarines.

I next met him many times after he was appointed Pak Ambassador to USA. He had a tremendous memory and remembered me when I met him in Washington. I wish we have more like him in Pakistan so the current incompetent lot in Pakistan can be prevented from slow poisoning Pakistan.

He is uncle of Nawab Patodi, the great Indian cricketer and Pakistan's ex Foreign Secretary Shaharayar Mohammad Khan.

Edited by pshamim
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Few years ago I saw him on TV. He was a guest speaker and I guess it was a polo match in Rawalpindi. He looked quite healthy then.

He set a standard that all generals of our Armed Forces should try to meet. As far as politicians are concerned, they represent ‘awam.’ We aren’t even attempting to educate the masses; then what can we expect?

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Yaqub Nana: a source of inspiration

NOT long ago someone I knew was talking about a writer with a ‘terrifying intellect’. The writer in question certainly had an intellect much vaster than my own, but I started wondering why it was that other people seem to genuinely find vast intellects scary whereas I only find them a pleasure to be around. Then I realised, it’s because I grew up around Yaqub Nana.

General Sahib to some, Sahibzada to others, he was always my Yaqub Nana, a man who decided when I was very young that I should be talked to about Ideas with a capital I, even if that meant he was going to ignore all the adults in the room to discuss Shakespeare and the wonders of translation with a thirteen year old.  Hamlet, he informed me, worked better in German than in English. The first line ‘Who’s there?’ spoken by the watch is transformed, in German, into a question that is less about identifying a stranger in the darkness and more about interrogating the self.

When I started writing novels he was pleased, and made it clear he would never read them. ‘I’ve stopped reading novels,’ he said. ‘After you’ve read War and Peace in Russian everything else is a disappointment.’ But he was always interested in the ideas I was working with, in the novels. In the early days of thinking about my novel Kartography I told him about the different motifs I was juggling - the violence of Karachi in the 90’s, maps, landmarks, stories, the 1971 war. At this point I didn’t know why my brain seemed to believe there was a link to be found amidst all these disparate elements. With an intellectual elegance that still leaves me, astounded to recall, he nodded seriously, and proceeded to thread all those thoughts together to reveal the underlying connections that I hadn’t worked out in all the months I’d been puzzling over them. Remembering it now what most strikes me is the generosity with which he produced those connections as if to say he believed I had been aware of them all along, and was graciously allowing him the opportunity to enjoy making the links himself. There was never the slightest whiff of let me clarify your muddled thoughts for you. It’s more remarkable to remember the ease with which he could make sense of my ideas when I consider that politically we were miles apart - but words like ‘left-wing’ and ‘right-wing’ never entered our conversations. There were probably enough people who wanted to talk to him about contemporary politics, Pak-US relations, or military v civilian rule - so I was called on to discuss other matters, such as how Mark Twain’s line I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened might relate to goings-on in my grandmother’s drawing-room. He had the ability, unique among everyone I’ve ever met, to always see what was happening around him as illustrative of something in literature or philosophy to which he could allude, never in a boastful way, but rather in the manner of someone who understands that the life of the mind is what sustains a human being through all travails.

I came to understand this aspect of him best when reading the letters he’d written to his brother in Rampur while he was a twenty something Prisoner of War in Italy during World War II. There was rarely a tone of dissatisfaction about his situation - except for a period of deep sadness when he heard news of his father’s death. Instead he spoke to having the time to teach himself French and Russian, the inquisitiveness and self-discipline of his mind able to literally transform a prison into a haven for study. This doesn’t mean he held himself apart from the less abstract pleasures of life. When the war was ending and his release was imminent his thoughts turned to Saville Row and the new clothes he would acquire on his way back to Rampur. 

In my wardrobe, one of my favourite items of clothing is a beautiful coat made for him in Kashmir, which he decided one day would work very well on me. ‘In the old days a woman would never wear this,’ he said. ‘But the times have changed, and it would suit you.’ He was in many ways a man of tradition, but that didn’t mean he lacked the ability to look at something in a new way and decide, some change might be a good idea. And a good idea was never something he could resist.

The writer is a novelist

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2016

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May his soul rest in peace. A great diplomat, intellect, and a gentleman. 

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Pakistan’s prince soldier, diplomat, statesman
Pakistan’s prince soldier, diplomat, statesman
Published: January 27, 2016

The writer teaches at IT University Lahore and is the author of A Princely Affair: The Accession and Integration of the Princely States of Pakistan, 1947-55. He tweets at @BangashYK

The Honourable Lieutenant General (retd) Sahibzada Yaqub Khan died on January 25, 2016 in Islamabad. Simply put, he was a great man. Born in Rampur to Sahibzada Sir Abdul Samad Khan Bahadur in December 1920, he lived a life which would make anyone envious. His father was the chief minister of Rampur State and hence he grew up in a highly cultured and refined environment. After initially studying at the Colonel Brown Cambridge School in Dehradun, he joined the Prince of Wales Indian Military Academy, and was commissioned in the 18th King Edward’s Own Cavalry in December 1940. Sahibzada Yaqub participated in the Second World War in the North Africa theatre and was even taken prisoner of war by the Axis powers, being freed after three years.

With the news of the creation of Pakistan, the now Major Yaqub opted for Pakistan and was initially appointed as ADC to the governor-general, the Quaid-e-Azam. Rising in his military career, he was appointed General Officer Commanding Eastern Command and also served as the governor of East Pakistan in early March and April 1971, at one of the most critical moments in the history of Pakistan. Here he showed his mettle and resigned his commission and governorship rather than opening fire on civilians. In his letter written to President Yahya Khan, Sahibzada Yaqub iterated that the only solution to the problem was a political one and so the president should call a session of the newly elected parliament and let it chart the course for the country. This advice was unheeded and the country was torn in two.

After the separation of East Pakistan and the ascendency of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he was sent as ambassador to France, and then the US. After the military takeover of General Ziaul Haq, Sahibzada Yaqub was one of the few people left in place, and he later also served as ambassador to the Soviet Union till 1982. Recognising in him diplomatic acumen, personal charm and integrity, Ziaul Haq appointed Sahibzada Yaqub as his foreign minister from 1982 till 1987. During the difficult time of the Afghan War, Sahibzada Yaqub carefully negotiated Pakistan’s position and maintained good relations with every side. His preeminent diplomatic skill was recognised and appreciated even by people who opposed him. Sahibzada Yaqub also had the honour of serving as the foreign minster in the first democratic transition after Ziaul Haq under Benazir Bhutto, helping her steer the murky grounds of great power politics. During the 1990s, he also served as the UN’s special representative to Western Sahara, and later served as chairman of the board of Aga Khan University.

If one were to cite all the accomplishments of Sahibzada Yaqub, then several pages could easily be filled, and so I shall refrain from adding to the very bare essentials noted above. I met him only a few times, but every time I would simply return in awe of all that he saw and achieved and the humility with which he would present it. When I used to ask him about writing a memoir, he would always retort “what would I write about?” — as if his stellar life was mundane! The last time I saw him — a few months ago — I even took a few students with me and he was ever so kind and helpful to them, patiently listening and answering all their questions. What I simply loved about him was his unending zeal for learning and reflecting. He would always ask me as many questions as I would ask him, and his insight into past events was singular and his grasp of events, personalities and their impact unmatched. Well into his nineties he was still a keen reader and when I presented him my book, he quickly browsed through a couple of pages and asked me a few questions! Sahibzada Yaqub often used to reflect and contemplate on the past when I visited and was worried about the country’s future. He would talk about Jinnah and his vision and lament the current state of the country, always emphasising that we have not learnt as much from the past as we should have.

Sahibzada Yaqub was an accomplished soldier, a great statesman, but above all he was a noble human being. Never before had anyone resigned a high rank on a matter of principle — he told me that other generals had warned and told him: “Yaqub, you will be finished” — but he was undeterred. Never before had someone, in Pakistan at least, worked with such impeccable integrity serving both elected representatives and even a dictator, with honour. And never before had I come across a person with such an illustrious career, being so humble, reflective and eager to learn from everyone. It was Pakistan’s great honour and privilege to have him for so long; Sahibzada Yaqub you will be sorely missed!

Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th,  2016.

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Prince, Soldier, Statesman

Sahabzada Yaqub Khan

Columnist M. ZAFAR is inspired by COL QAYYUM’S tribute to Lt Gen SAHABZADA YAQUB KHAN to add to it.

This piece is inspired by Colonel Abdul Qayyum’s tribute to General Sahabzada Mohammad Yaqub Khan that appeared in the Defence Journal in July 2000 issue. Like most personalities of his genre Yaqub Khan means different things to different people. To the socially conscious he is an archetypal prince, to the professionals of the Army he is a philosopher commander, to the cloistered Brahmins of Corps Diplomatique he is ambassador extraordinary. To cursory observers he is an obsessed figure who lives in an ivory tower and is out of tune with times. To the historians of the era he is an unexplored subject but whose influence in the defence and diplomacy of Pakistan is permanent.

Due to an inborn shyness, a fierce desire to remain correct and guard privacy he has not written his memoirs nor has he encouraged others to record his part and viewpoint in the epics of Bangladesh and Afghanistan and of course the Pakistan Army. All suggestions in this regard have so far not gone further than a polite acknowledgement and a promise to discuss the subject ‘soon’. The Official Secrets Act and contemporaneous disregard for intellectual property will ensure that real contribution of Yaqub Khan will never be known to the public and his role may come to be understood to be that of a good craftsman who did a fair job. This will be incorrect and unjust.

General Yaqub Khan’s career that is by no means ended is best summed up by the motto on the personal standard of the Prince of Wales ‘Ich Dien’. The glory of the fleur de lis is underscored by a commitment to service. Service that is not qualified in terms of when, where and what but that demands the ultimate in loyalty and integrity. When one serves to such specifications, service assumes the dimensions of a spiritual discipline that enjoins cleanliness of the body, the soul, the thought and the action. Being on parade is equivalent of being on prayers where the ideal is pursued with single-mindedness, where nothing is compromised and no lowering of standards tolerated. Over a period of time such an attitude assumes the form of asceticism that commands continual self-denial and subjugation of the self in the pursuit of the ultimate.

Astringency of the process purifies the soul, fortifies the will and bestows moral authority. That severe and unrelenting sobriety, often overflowing the limits of normal reason, is in fact the price that those who enjoy the privilege of exercising power over fellow beings have to pay. Princes are taught this very early in life. Other officers learn after induction into service.

General Yaqub’s apparent disregard for the sensitivities of normal run of mill officers has to be understood in relation to the professional and cultural excellence that he desired to see around him. The aim was to train officers of the regiment who would stand out anywhere as examples of quality. There were no other motives. On this score the general has been misunderstood not only by those who were his unfortunate victims but also those who untiringly professed liegehood to him.

I met General Yaqub for the first time in the closing months of 1960 when he took over command of 1 Armoured Division at Kharian from General Sarfraz Khan HJ: MC. The division had arrived back at the home base after a grueling set of exercises that had lasted a whole summer. Lessons from Exercise Tezgam were the favourite menu at every discussion table. Some pleaded for the break up of the armoured division into independent brigades. They thought the division was too heavy and country’s infrastructure too inadequate to support operational and tactical moves within the battlefield. Others wanted all available armour to be organised into Corps on the style of Panzer Corps of German Army. They dreamed of Pakistan Army equivalents of Group Von Kleist and Gen Guderian moving fast and establishing line from bend of Jamuna to slopes of Arvalli. Their argument was that in view of the Pakistans strategic axiom stating that defence of East Pakistan lay in West Pakistan such deep incursions were essential for political bargaining after the war. Practical soldiers considered capture of Line Kathua-Jandiala Guru and Beas-Sutlej Confluence was good enough for the necessary bargaining. Whatever the ground objectives such offensives could only be undertaken by tank units organised in divisions and corps. Klotzen, nicht kleckern. Dissipation of armour into packets would reduce the war to static battles of trenches and duels of artillery. Pakistan would end up in repeating Aliwal, Mudki and Sobraon of nineteenth century. In the event that is what happened 1965.

The new commander of 1 Armoured Division did not commit himself to any school although his preferences were clear to those who listened to him with care, but he did embark on a plan to educate the debaters on mechanics of armoured warfare that in essence consists of movement and administrative maintenance. He would refer to a photograph of Field Marshal Rommel pouring over a map with a compass in hand and a ruler lying nearby. This is how you plan a tank battle cold calculations, he would say. To further emphasise the point, he would during visits, ask unit officers questions like the TPP (Time Past a Point) of the units F echelon, tonnage of Second Line ammunition and length of an armored divisions column. The ignorant were ticked off as a matter of course. Generals bite was often deep and hurtful. But the debates in 1 Armoured Division messes did become informative.

General Yaqub Khan believed that military duties especially in an armoured formation could only be performed in a culture where commitment to service was an article of faith and above every other consideration. The boy who stood on the burning deck should be serving in the ranks of 1 Armoured Division and England expects everyone to do his duty should suffice for orders from the march column.

His first address to the officers of the Division in which he gave out his philosophy of command made a lasting impression. After passage of nearly forty years some parts of it still reverberate in my mind as clearly as if the lecture had been delivered yesterday.

First point he made was regarding the continuity of command policies and acknowledged the contribution of his predecessors. We will start from where my predecessors have left. We shall build on their successes. If we do not do this, we shall be starting from exactly zero. I do not want to start from zero. Then he dilated at length on the commander-command relationship. You should know what to expect from me and what I expect from you. You have the right to expect justice and fairplay from me.

That much I can promise you on my part. Now what I expect from you is nothing more than a days worth of work- done with honesty and integrity That much I shall ensure. Then he went on to explain integrity. Integrity comes from word integer which means whole Remove one brick from a wall, it still stands. But the integrity of the wall is impaired. Decrying the low level of knowledge of applicants to staff college examination, he said Aspirants to the highest command levels in the Army do not know the number of vehicles that the division they are serving in holds. This apathy is intolerable. Such ignorant people cannot be recommended to have authority over the lives of soldiers.

The difficulty with General Yaqub was that having said what he said he would set an example and expect others to follow. Service with such a person does become difficult especially for those who throw the weight of brass at you and advise Do not do, what I do. Do as I tell you to do. Precisely at the appointed hour the General would drive to the Division Headquarters in his shining black Rover where he would be received by the Aide de Camp and his Personal Assistant the gentle Mr.Toor. His driver would a little later drive off the Rover to the garage. Mr.Toor’s work would start as soon as the General stepped out of the car. Sometimes a letter was dictated before he would reach the office door. Then he would settle down to routine. Office work followed by visits to training sites and then back to the office for more file work. Polo in the afternoon was followed by a glass of nimboo pani in the Officers Club. Of course the time between the sips was spent on browsing through the book that happened to be on his reading list.

With him in the station, intellectual activity picked up a great deal.

All exercises were to start with presentation of the concept and lessons meant to be drawn. At the end of each exercise a critique was held where officers blew each other to smithereens. Units would hold critiques, for example, after training drives, fires at short-range and after regimental Guest Nights. The general was known to hold a critique after a good polo match. Only if Saghir had read the situation and galloped only if the pony had not bolted with Tiwana.

Officers were encouraged to make public presentations on subjects of their choice. I myself was given an opportunity to speak to the whole garrison on the person and programme of the then recently elected President of the United States Mr. John F. Kennedy. Presentations of Alexanders battle with Porus on the Hydaspes (Jhelum) and Raja Sher Singh’s battle with the British at Chillianwala were memorable.

At about that time Pakistan Army was also plunged deep into the controversies surrounding the New Concept of Defence and Pentomic Divisions. The known commitment, one way or the other, of some of the most powerful personalities in the Army had turned the whole officer corps into two squabbling camps the protagonists and the antagonists. In that charged and fractious atmosphere General Headquarters set up an exercise called Exercise Milestone to test these concepts and appointed General Yaqub Khan as the chief adjudicator -the Chief Umpire.

New Concept of Defence was in fact a page picked out of the Schlieffen Plan, which sought to concentrate two thirds of the army for the decisive Schwerpunkt on one front, while leaving a much smaller part for defence on the other front where ground was to be dominated and denied with fire rather than with physical occupation. Defence was to be in a series of lines and after the enemy had been bled white, a counter attack was to be launched to annihilate the attacker. Pakistani officers were expected to duplicate Tannenburgs at battalion and brigade level.

Pentomic division on the other hand was the suggested organization for an American Division for an atomic battlefield. Five highly mobile battalions with adequate supporting arms and services would constitute a division. Brigade headquarters would be done away with and task force headquarter under Deputy GOC would be put in place. The Task Force Headquarter would have no units under its command and would be required to carry out a given task with units designated just before the battle.

Leading lights of Pakistan Army thought that they could combine the two concepts and fashion a new army that would be economical, light and effective. Politically such an army would raise President Ayub’s stock immensely. His support for such an Army was more than manifest. A much-advertised event those days was the visit of General Westphal the one time Chief of Staff to General Rommel. During his meeting with the German General, President Ayub was reported to have said that Pakistan Army needed generals like Von Schlieffen. Westphal was obviously perplexed at Ayub’s choice of Schlieffen as a role model for Pakistani officers. Von Schlieffen was known in the German Army neither as a trainer nor as a field commander of much distinction. He became famous because the German Plan for prosecution of 1914-18 war on two fronts which he crafted in association with Ludendorff and the under the direction of younger Moltke, came to bear his name. Pakistan General Staff, however, got the intended hint.

The position of the Chief Umpire was not a happy one. He was far better informed on German military doctrines and his uneasiness with their application in the military ambience of the sub-continent was though clearly guarded was manifest to those who could follow his diction. He devised a technique for communicating the difficulties inherent in the proposed doctrines to the highest and the mightiest, the protagonists and the antagonists direct from the horses mouth. He made it a point to invite the every body who was anybody and happened to be in the area to the Chief Umpires Daily Conference. Every evening reports of tactical level umpires were made at first hand and discussed by the house. The Chief Umpire intervened only to correct the facts but never the perceptions. By the end of the exercise both concepts stood rejected through consensus an outcome that the Yaqub Khan privately approved. Curiously Chief Umpires report on Exercise Milestone was not accorded that wide publicity that had been given to General M.G. Jilani’s report on Exercise Tezgam.

After the command of 1Armoured Division General Yaqub proceeded to Command and Staff College Quetta and plunged headlong into organizing Army War Course, a course designed for to equip selected senior officers with the intellectual wherewithal required for high command. The emphasis was on creativity. Plans were discussed in all dimensions- time space being the favourite of the general. Concepts like schwerpunkt, balance, time space dimension, centre of gravity, friction dguerre, hypotheses and variants gained currency in the army. The graduates of Army War Course started a movement that was equivalent of a renaissance. Officers began to think of alternates to every solution and cater for dynamics of the interaction. Two and two would be equal to four plus minus the effort that it takes the two figures to undergo the process of addition. Concepts of static and set piece battles came to be scoffed at. Ingenuity and movement was the order of the day. Many of Yaqub’s colleagues in the General Staff who preferred to remain limited to Military Training Pamphlet No 8 were visibly disturbed at this onslaught of military intellectualism and did everything to put the teacher down. What is this thing called Hypothesis roared General Bahadur Sher MC once at one of his colleagues in a conference attended by the Commander-in-Chief this is an unauthorised term and appears nowhere in the training manuals. Many thought that General Yaqub had taught too much to too many. This uncalled for creativity; Yaqubism was getting under their skin and having an affect on tranquility in their commands.

When 1965 War came he was still at Staff College. After the launch of Grand Slam Mr.Aziz Ahmed came to lecture the War Course students to reassure them that Pakistan will win its battle in Kashmir without arousing reaction across international border. Colonel later Major General Shaukat Riza asked that on what was his conclusion based? On volumes of study pat came the reply. None was convinced and General Yaqub the same evening said privately that if India does not attack within next 48 hours then some bfool is sitting in Delhi. India attacked across international borders in small hours of 6th September well within the time limit allowed by the guru.

1 Armoured Division was by far the best equipped, trained and motivated formation of the Pakistan Army in 1965.Every body entertained great hopes when it was launched and ordered to break out from Khem Karan Bridgehead and capture Patti and then be prepared to move either south to Harike on the Sutlej or north to Jandiala guru on the G.T.  Road. In the event the formation was not able to make much headway and was withdrawn less one brigade into reserve and moved to Sialkot. The GOC and some senior members of his staff were removed. General Yaqub was recalled to the command of 1Armoured Division. Ceasefire came on 23rd September but formations were told to be ready for resumption of hostilities at short notice. Every one plunged into maintenance of equipment, updating of operational maps and revision of plans. Armoured Division officers were kept busy in updating tank trafficability maps of the operational area and the staff was burning midnight oil on revision of operational plans. It was here that the future President of Pakistan Zia ul Haq then a Lieutenant Colonel joined his staff as General Staff Officer Grade 1. Zia was worked to his satisfaction except that his tendency to fly off the handle had to be curbed. Once Zia while making a presentation took too long to come to the issue. Full stop. cried the GOC Full stop, I said. You have uttered some four dozen words. Not a single one is operational.

One of the reasons for the failure of the division in Khem Karan was given to be the inaccuracy of the Tank Going maps on which the operational plans were based. The Divisional headquarters ordered extensive reconnaissance. But the problem remained. An area judged and marked on map as Good by one Reconnaissance Party was called Impassable by another. The General encouraged junior officers to research on the subject come out with a solution that will give more accurate maps to the commanders for planning and conduct of operations. General Yaqub and Brigadier RG Hyder Commander 5 Armoured Brigade particularly encouraged this writer, who was GSO-3 (Ops) at Headquarters 5Armoured Brigade. In cooperation with a brilliant official of Soil Survey of Pakistan Mr. Mohammad Alam Mian, I produced a paper that recommended two things. First, that ground trafficability should be judged in definite quantitative terms which should give definite guide lines for the quantum of armour to be employed for the battle. The current system of assigning vague qualitative values like Good, Fair, Bad led to no valid operational deductions. Secondly for cartographic exactitude soil survey maps should be utilised and trafficability values superimposed on the delineated parts. This paper was ordered by the General who had by then become Chief of the General Staff to be presented to the Commander-in-Chief at the GHQ. Rather unusual and some sort of a record - captains are generally not allowed anywhere near such sacrosanct activities. It is axiomatic that everywhere work of junior officers is appropriated by high level personages and passed as their own. Not under General Yaqub. He was not afraid of letting a thousand flowers bloom.

The subject continued to be studied at different level headquarters but the author was carefully excluded. Axioms are not based on nothing. Colonel Altaf Hussain, Brigadier Jan Nadir made their contribution. Later General GS Butt, a doctor in Soil Mechanics developed the subject fully and had it made a part of the curriculum in the training of Armour and Engineer officers.

General Yaqub’s tenure as CGS was marked by another reorganisation exercise. Logistic System in the Army was given a new dekho. An updated system was put in place. On the Staff Duties side a revised manual of Staff Duties in the Field was published under Yaqub’s signatures.

So when his promotion came he happily walked out of the GHQ and proceeded to East Pakistan where things were happening.

East Pakistan in1969 was seething with trouble. Bengalis were unanimous on full internal autonomy in case Pakistan was to remain in tact in some form or the other. An unprecedented cyclone brought untold misery to the people and gave tons of ammunition to the politicians. Political leaders had become more assertive and masses more disruptive. An open revolt was very much in the air.

For the General it was a case of déjà vu. Back in 1947 he had seen the comings and goings of leaders of Indian independence movement to Viceregal Lodge and now in Dhaka he did not miss the ominous signs. Coincidentally the Governor Admiral SM Ahsan had also been witness to the unfolding of the events of 1947 from much closer distance. It is, therefore, not surprising that they both read the situation in similar terms and suggested the same remedy. General Yaqub made a valiant effort to charm the East Pakistanis in the style of Lord Moutbatten and was reportedly much successful. But whereas Lord Mountbatten had extricated plenipotentiary powers from the British Government Yaqub had no authority to formalise any breakthrough that he may have achieved with the Bengali leadership.

The military aim of Commander Eastern Command, in bare bones, was to defend East Pakistan against an attack from India. Some of the worlds biggest rivers divided the area of responsibility into four sectors; Jessore-Khulna, Hilli-Bogra, Mymensingh-Tangail and Sylhet-Chittagong. India could attack all four sectors, with equal facility. The lay of communications was from north to south and generally conformed to the alignment of the rivers. For lateral movement there were only two bridges, one across the Jamuna at Paksey and the other across Meghna at Bhairab Bazar. Mutual support and movement of reserves was not a realistic military possibility and if the local population should turn hostile even the miniscule chance that there was would evaporate.

Therefore, the support of local population was the first essential for the defence of the territory. The battle for East Pakistan could either be conducted on the basis of four independent sectors for which the strength of troops would have to be quadrupled (8 to 9 divisions) or by concentrating east of Meghna to retain a large enough foothold till aggression could be vacated. It did not need a genius to know that first option was physically impossible and the latter politically unthinkable.

Yaqub Khan, therefore, insisted in the name of military necessity that his task should not made be impossible by deliberately alienating the people of East Pakistan. He demanded solutions of sanity to the political imbroglio.

On being rebuffed, his resignation became inevitable. But when it came about, some awful lies were fabricated to assassinate his military character. He was reduced to his substantive rank and retired from service. Not a word of complaint was heard from him in public. He accepted the dispensation in the spirit of Ich dien. The regime that had become deaf and blind died in disgrace in the dying days of 1971.

The new regime resurrected Yaqub Khan and inducted him into the diplomatic service -the second preferred vocation of princes. And thus began a new phase in the public service of this remarkable man. That phase is outside the scope of this article.

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