Comment: Ayub Khan’s appointment

Discussion in 'Pakistan Army' started by fatman17, Mar 6, 2010.

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  1. fatman17
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    Comment: Ayub Khan’s appointment —Riaz Shahid

    The fact that Pakistan got a person to lead its army who had no experience of commanding division level operations and had not participated in the Kashmir war ensured that during an actual battle, Pakistan Army’s performance would be below the optimum

    This is in response to Mr Gohar Ayub Khan’s rejoinder ‘Clarification’, published in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section (Daily Times, February18, 2010) in response to my article ‘Reassessing Liaquat Ali Khan’s role’ (Daily Times, February15, 2010). In my article, I had deliberately not discussed Ayub Khan’s appointment as Pakistan’s first native army chief as these details are quite painful, not to mention controversial. Now that Gohar Ayub Khan has decided to challenge my assertions, I have no choice but to bring all the facts to light.

    Mr Gohar Ayub admits that Ayub Khan was a colonel in 1947. He gives the example of General JN Chaudhuri who was also a colonel in 1947 and went on to become the Indian army chief. The fact is that General JN Chaudhri did become the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, but on November 19, 1962, full 11 years and 11 months after Ayub Khan became Pakistan’s army chief! In his memoirs Glimpses into the Corridors of Power, Mr Gohar Ayub admits that his father was of the opinion that the rank of a full colonel was the most he could attain during British control.

    The promotion from colonel to general in less than four years for Ayub Khan had strategic consequences for Pakistan, as Ayub Khan had neither attained the experience or the gravitas needed to do justice to the office of the Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army. His shortcomings became apparent during the 1965 War into which he had led the country, thanks to the ill thought and badly executed ‘Operation Gibraltar’. Compare this to the Indian Army. Field Marshal Kodandera ‘Kipper’ Madappa Cariappa, who was its first native army chief, was the senior most Hindu officer serving in the British Indian Army on partition. He was the first Indian officer to be given command of a unit (by the British in 1942) in 200 years of the British Raj. For his military exploits against the Japanese as division commander of the 26th Division, Cariappa was given the Order of the British Empire (OBE). Ayub Khan had the honour of serving under him as a colonel in the Frontier Brigade Group in 1946.

    Gohar Ayub considers participation in Kashmir was inconsequential, deeming my assertion that Ayub Khan did not participate in the Kashmir war as ‘ridiculous’. The Indians, however, think otherwise. Cariappa, as general officer commanding-in-chief of the Western Command in 1947-48, captured Zojilla, Dras, Kargil and Leh for India, and to this day the Indians worship him for that. On the other hand, what does Pakistan’s first native commander-in-chief have to show for him in terms of gallantry awards or mention in despatches?

    The fact that Pakistan got a person to lead its army who had no experience of commanding division level operations and had not participated in the Kashmir war ensured that during an actual battle, Pakistan Army’s performance would be below the optimum and that operations in the Kashmir sector would be badly botched up. And that is exactly what happened during the 1965 War. The Indians, however, were lucky to get an army chief under whom the Indian Army had gotten its first baptism of fire.

    What very few people know is that Ayub Khan was so junior at the time of independence that he was given Pakistan Army No10 (PA10) and was not selected to represent Pakistan in the partition council that was set up to divide the assets of the British Indian Army between the Pakistani and Indian armies. There were nine officers senior to him on August 14, 1947, amongst which there were at least five full brigadiers (Mohammad Akbar Khan, Muhammed Iftikhar Khan, Faiz Muhammad, Fazal-ur-Rehman Kallue, Nawabzada Agha Mohammad Raza). In his memoirs Friends Not Masters, Ayub clearly states, “A Council was then set up to divide the armed forces. We had Raza, Akbar and Latif on this council representing Pakistan...I had little direct connection with the division of the armed forces” (page 20).

    Mr Gohar Ayub denies that the British gave Ayub Khan a horrible Annual Confidential Report (ACR) for timidity and refusal to participate in combat in Burma in World War II. Furthermore, he states, “Ayub Khan commanded 1st Assam Regiment from January 4 to December 27, 1945 in the Burma Campaign during which the battalion participated in heavy fighting till the Japanese surrender in mid-1945.”

    Both of the above claims made by him are false and untrue. Ayub Khan’s timidity and refusal to participate in combat in World War II is an established fact. AH Amin and Dr Ayesha Siddiqa Agha, who are the only defence analysts and military historians in Pakistan of international stature, testify to this. Reviewing Shuja Nawaz’s book on Pakistan Army, Crossed Swords, in Newsline magazine in August 2008, Dr Ayesha states, “In fact, he completely ignores the information that Ayub Khan had received a bad ACR from his bosses prior to the partition of India and had become a general through machination.” Furthermore, there are written testimonies in this regard from Lieutenant Colonel Parson and Lieutenant Colonel Mohatram who served in the same unit as Ayub Khan in Burma. The former in his presentation, ‘Battle of Kohima’, in 1984 categorically stated that, “Ayub Khan refused to command the regiment on the grounds that its men were no longer fit to carry on the battle and that he requested that he be sent back to India.” Lieutenant Colonel Parson’s revelations were published in the Daily Telegraph of Calcutta as well in Daily News of Karachi on April 28, 1984. From here the story gets really weird. Major General Joginder Singh, who was Ayub Khan’s battalion mate, asserts in his book Behind the Scenes (1993) that Ayub Khan was not considered fit to command his parent Punjab Regiment and was relegated to serving in Chamar Regiment, which was disbanded after the war ended. The point is that Ayub Khan did not serve in the prestigious Assam Regiment, which Gohar Ayub claims he did! For more on this issue and on Quaid-e-Azam’s order to transfer and freeze Ayub Khan’s career, I recommend the readers to read Major General Sher Ali’s The Story of Soldiering and Politics in India and Pakistan, Air Commodore Sajjad Haider’s Flight of the Falcon and Hasan Abbas’s Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism.

    I hope that these facts set the record straight for the benefit of Daily Times’ readers.

    The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at blazinggun25@yahoo.com
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  2. arslan_treen
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    arslan_treen FULL MEMBER

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    yep this dude was sitting right there when all this was happening, when will our media men stop talking like they were the angels looking after event , and then what does this have to do now ? this fits the profile of a saying we have in our language which will try to translate in English :- ''if your pants are dont put them on your head and start dancing around ''
  3. arslan_treen
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    just think about it , In army always the most senior ranking officer gets the Job , ( that might not have been the case in Zia , Musharaf ) but thats the fact , now just imagine if they would have kept the Britsih colonial heads in our Army and we would have lost 1965 war , today all we would have been saying was , '' Hum goroun key nechay say khabi niklay he nehi thats why we lost ''
    but freelancers have families to feed aswl so good for him that he is making some money out of it , may be next time he will write and tell us about the time when he was sitting with King of basra at the time when he appointed a 17 year old kid to invade India .
  4. Super Falcon
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    well i agreee to that bhuttto made a mistake of his life by appointing evil like him his aftermaths even today we can feeel anyway i hope pakistan should learn from mistakes and in future any politician dont have power to appoint any chief of staff of three forces i hope we build a system like usa that chief of staff get choosen by his knowladge,expertiese and leadership guts
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  5. niaz
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    This is clear character assassination by a vindictive journalist. I was growing up during Ayub Khan’s time and I admit feeling a bit nostalgic about him. First and foremost Ayub Khan was quite liberal in his outlook. Secondly Pakistan economy was growing at more than 6% per annum for 5 to 6 years at a stretch. Ayub Khan’s weaknesses were:

    1. His children, specially Gohar Ayub and Tahir Ayub
    2. His advisors specially ZA Bhutto, who advised him for the Operation Gibraltar and then used this as excuse to bring him down.

    However I am not writing this to praise Ayub Khan but to analyze the arguments about his promotion.

    Pakistan’s military efforts in 1948 Kashmir war suffered badly because both the Indian and Pak armies were officered by the British. These senior officers were in constant communication with each other as they did not want British officers to be killed in what they considered was a pointless fight. Therefore it was an urgent necessity to replace senior British officers by Pakistani nationals. Ayub Khan’s promotion to CINC was thru efforts of Sikander Mirza, who was then Secretary for Defence and only because Maj Gen Iftikhar Khan died in a plane crash.

    No doubt it is true that Ayub had no experience of commanding a division. But there was no Pakistani Muslim officer who had. A country has to make do with the resources available. This charge is therefore pointless.

    Full general from Colonel in 4 years is also not uncommon. One of the most prominent commanders of the WW2, Dwight Eisenhower (Ike) was only a major until 1936. He was promoted to brigadier in 1941, and 1942 Commander of all US forces and in December 1943 he became Supreme Commander of Allied Forces thus becoming a boss of Gen Montgomery! Ike never even commanded a battalion in the field. Why such a fuss about Ayub Khan?

    Napoleon got promoted to Captain in July 1792. But July 1793 Napoleon was a brigadier general. By 1795, at the tender age of 26 Napoleon was commander of the French Army in Italy. From Captain to General in just three years! This is an extreme example and I am not suggesting Ayub Khan was Napoleon; this is only to prove the point that quick promotions are uncommon but certainly not rare.

    Main problem is that army traditions encourage obedience without question. This encourages mediocrity and punishes any one with bright ideas. For example Charles De Gaulle, who was a thinker and theorist of tank warfare; by the outbreak of war in 1939, after 27 years of military service, only managed to become a colonel. Pakistan army is no different. Nearly all the appointments to CINC or COAS are based on political expediency and not merit. Since all men are not equal, one finds that occasionally, competent commanders also get their chance, but more by luck than by design. Why then single out Ayub Khan? Report by the immediate boss also depends a lot on the personal likes and dislikes and should not necessarily be taken as the last word.

    Theoretically any one who has commanded a Divison (an army in miniature) successfully, should be able to command an army. The key factor here should be the promotion from the staff rank (Lt Colonel) to the brigadier. If PA can ensure that this vital promotion will be strictly on merit, it wouldn’t matter who is finally promoted to head the Pakistan Army.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2010
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  6. kamaloo
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    People who are hypercritical of their ancestors , should have been born in some other homes. Here we are talking of a new born country, which plunged suddenly into a rudderless dive with the untimely deaths of Qaid e Azam and Liaqat Ali Khan. Ayub Khan steered this nation to a path of progress and success which even today is remembered as a Golden Era. Pakistan saw the construction of all the existing Dams,Industries and institutions. PIA became Asia's leading Airline and others followed Pakistan's example.
    We should have the courage enough to accept that inspite of being a military man General Ayub Khan had the vision of a statesman.
    I have worked in a private Company with Admiral Ahmad Tasnim a former ADC of Ayub Khan. The Admiral is a man of High integrity and courage, having been decorated for valour in both the 1965 & 1971 wars. ( The only Navel Submarine Commander who sank Indian Submarine destroyers after the second world wars). Being a three star himself , the Admiral admired the patriotism, Statesmanship and vision of Ayub Khan.
    Why do we forget that though experience refines the inborn qualities of a man, it does not substitute for God given qualities.Why do we go far? look at Osama bin Zahid, he was just seventeen years old when he was given the command of the muslim Army. mohammad Bin Qasim was also a teen ager when he conquered the Sindh.
    The critic of Ayub Khan has forgotten that Iskandar Mirza had never been a colonel and inspite of this he became a Major General and later President.
    Where are we now ? can we draw a comparrison of Ayub Khan with the Present President?The Supreme nCommander of A Nuclear Pakistan, who has probably never even commanded his better half.
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  7. ghazi52
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    You are absolutely right, but some people will still not buy it,,,,,,
    No comparison of Ayub Khan with the Present President.
    In my view Ayub Khan was one of great leader of Pakistan.:pakistan:
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  8. Joe Shearer
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    Dear Sir,

    It was good of you to have set out not to praise Ayub Khan but to analyze the arguments about his promotion. However, by the end of your observation, it was not clear how far you had succeeded in doing so.

    There are two factors to be kept in mind regarding this incident: the question of rapid, typically battlefield promotions leading to command at a very young age; the question of fitness for command, and allied to that, being selected in supersession of other, fitter officers.

    It does seem that your loyalty to a great leader of Pakistan (this is your perception, and for the sake of the argument, let us accept it without cavil, although my liberal friends will have a thousand and one things to say on the subject) may have overruled your original intention.

    On the first question, FM Ayub Khan's promotion may be compared to General Eisenhower's, since both were due to being found fit for greater and greater political responsibility, rather than having a strictly professional military driver behind their promotions. Please remember that General Eisenhower got his promotions at a point of time when the US was increasingly getting committed to joint operations in Europe as well as in Asia.

    In Asia, McArthur so far outweighed other generals in experience and rank that there was no competition until the impact of Japanese victories in South-East Asia and India forced a promotion of British officers to a level where they might, theoretically, have posed a threat to his supremacy if the war had been protracted by another two years. It was not so protracted, and McArthur remained supreme. It is another matter that the British were opposed in the South-East Asian theatre by Brigadier Stilwell, who was known for his bitterly anti-British views and his support of the KMT forces. The point is that Asia was well looked after.

    That left Europe. While General Marshal was quite clearly in charge in Washington, there was a question about the leadership in Europe. It was not an easy choice; the theatres were unfamiliar, American military commanders earmarked for Europe were relatively raw, and there was no one who was clearly pre-eminent. What was needed was first and foremost, a committee man, a political general who could get excitable, volatile Free French generals and admirals, stiff, cold, self-opinionated British generals, admirals and air marshals and garrulous Americans with cavalry-oriented theories all to sit down at the same table, and to emerge with plans of action without having murdered each other at the table. That was the role that Eisenhower played, a role that Marshal clearly and pointedly steered himself away from. His promotions have to be seen in this perspective, and not any other. Ayub Khan's promotions were closer to this than to any other, and must be judged against this as a yardstick.

    I shall draw a gentle veil over the other comparisons made; in my opinion, those were unfortunate and inappropriate, to the point of being laughably ill-fitting to the case in question.

    The next question that has to be answered was about the promotion itself. Was Ayub Khan the ranking officer at the time, when General Iftikhar Khan died? The answer is no; a simple perusal of the attachments mentioned by Sparklingway reveals that. Both General Majid and General Nazir ranked him.

    Then why was Ayub Khan selected? On battlefield merit? On that, between General Rees and Col. Parsons, the picture is crystal clear. It would be indelicate to rub home the point about tactical timidity; readers with service experience will have long since drawn their own conclusions. In the world of the ACR, these things are not written without great provocation; this goes well beyond faint praise, into the realm of outright dismissal of an officer's worth to the service.

    The only conclusion left is that he was selected above two better officers as he was seen to be more biddable, more willing to do what that other famous character from the world of the performing arts, that Head of the Queen's Navee, General Iskandar Mirza, honoured descendant of Mir Jafar, wanted. And he wanted subservience. To him,battlefield service counted little; he had been promoted, rather like that Gilbert and Sullivans character from HMS Pinafore, for services other than military. In this case, for his services in the Indian Political Service, an apprenticeship in palace intrigue, which he promptly introduced into the Pakistani body politic.

    His selection of Ayub Khan is itself the most damning indictment of the promotion saga.

    In what followed the fatal nature of the choice was made all too clear. Extension followed extension; while his Indian counterparts made their way up laboriously, one by one, Rajendrasinhji, Srinagesh, Timmy Thimaiyya, the luckless Thapar, finally Muchu Chaudhuri, saw their two to three years at the top and retired to small bungalows and little flats with even smaller Fiat or Ambassadors, Ayub Khan got extension after extension, I believe two or three, and stayed on forever.

    The PA seems to have used extensions as a deadly weapon in internecine warfare, their own version of a drone-fired missile ages before drones began to be heard in Pakistani skies.

    And finally, the three calamities following hard on each other's heels:

    the conviction by Bhutto and the Foreign Ministry babus, lying heroically to a man, that Kashmir would rise and China would actively support Pakistan, while the USSR and USA would stand aloof;

    the acceptance of that doomed plan, Operation Gibraltar;

    the battlefield supersession of Akhtar Hussain Malik.

    All the dams in creation cannot pay for these blunders. If for nothing than for fighting an unnecessary war, with a silly strategy, and for betraying his most competent subordinates, Ayub Khan deserves condemnation. For all his vaunted breadth of vision and his martial spirit, he failed; at least his tiny opponent L B Shastri did not let down his colleagues.

    Any defence of Ayub Khan on military grounds is doomed to failure. If you wish to defend him on other grounds, that is another matter. But he was a lousy chief and that cannot vanish in spite of all the cleaning fluid that we use on the great man's reputation.

    Sincerely,

    'J. S.'

    Dear Sir,

    This is fascinating.

    You have identified your former chief as The only Navel Submarine Commander who sank Indian Submarine destroyers after the second world wars. Which were the ships of this numerous flotilla that he sent to the bottom of the sea?

    For the reasons cited above, I believe that these comparisons with military prodigies are completely contrary to the facts and the record.

    Sincerely,

    'Joe S.'
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  9. RescueRanger
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    Joe,

    Just wanted to say, some excellent writing.. *tip's hat*
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  10. blain2
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    I read Niaz sahib's insightful post and the exact point that Joe made came across in my mind (obviously I cannot take credit for it now :-)

    Eisenhower's rapid promotions were as a result of his very relevant experience and that too, one gained during operations. Ayub Khan's promotion was on the basis of the exigency that existed to push someone up to fill the void that was being filled by the British officer. Both Ayub and Yahya Khan had a very quick route to the rank of Brigadier and beyond. In terms of intelligence and military acumen, in my humble opinion, Yahya was even sharper than Ayub Khan, however experience does count for something and it showed in both of the wars the two led.

    In my opinion, to Ayub Khan's credit goes the foresight he had into developing the Pakistan Army. He gave his staff great insights on what the road map to developing the Pakistan Army and his staff did this quite well. The qualitative changes that came about in the Army were mostly in the times of Ayub Khan which put the Army's re-organization on solid footing.

    His political and economic policies (and his familial controversies) are better left off for another thread. Militarily, the appointment of Gen Musa as the CinC of the Pakistan Army, despite the fact that he was an extremely upright and hard working officer, was another blunder of Gen Ayub Khan. Gen Sher Ali Khan was a much more capable officer for the job than Gen Musa but was sidelined because Ayub Khan most probably felt threatened by him due to latter's personality which did not fall in line with "ji hazoori" that was needed to maintain his prolonged rule. Most of the other officers in the Pakistan Army were junior enough for Ayub Khan to not have felt threatened by. However had a General like Habibullah been at the helm of affairs, I do not think that Pakistan Army would have fallen for Bhutto's urging.

    The last thing that I'd like to point out is the self-serving promotion to the rank of FM. This lacked class. His political cronies pushed him to do this and he knew better than to have fallen for this. He became the butt of jokes within the Army for this act of his and blemished the institution of the Pakistan Army by doing so as well.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2010
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  11. fatman17
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    In my opinion, to Ayub Khan's credit is the foresight he had into developing the Pakistan Army. He gave his staff great insights on what the road map to developing the Pakistan Army should look like and his staff did this quite well.

    this very important point is missed by everyone - PA at the time of independence, the army suffered from a lack of funds, arms and munitions and experienced officers - i would go as far to say it was a 'rag tag' army. ayub set about to set the standards which were required to turn the army into a 'professional and efficient' army. unfortunately his 'dabbling' in politics took away his time from his basic 'job description' to build a strong, robust and efficient force at that time, and the standards were not met in a few important areas. so in summary his contributions need to be recognised.
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  12. Old School
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    Would you please precisely pin point which particular areas in the Army was developed by him ? The Prussian style General Staff system already existed in the Army left by the British and this is nothing new. Was he able to bring professionalism among the General Staffs while assigning them additional civil duties ? The British left a highly professional institutional foundation to built a modern Army on it which was destroyed by Ayub Khan. Using of popular jargon by the historians will not change the facts.
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  13. fatman17
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    its a long list - i need to refer to Shuja Nawaz's highly acclaimed book 'CROSSED SWORDS' to bring out the details. maybe u can spend 20 quid and read it for yourself. very factual.
    cheers!
  14. blain2
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    The benefit was in the form of an organizational and structural change in the then Pakistan Army. You are absolutely right that general staff and its British foundation remained, however overall considerable changes were made in terms of the overall size of the Army and the associated TO&E due the growth. For all his ills, due to his efforts, venues for further foreign military education were opened up in his time that resulted in hundreds of officers going overseas and bringing back with them considerable professional experiences that helped evolve the Pakistan Army.

    The damages inflicted by him upon the highly professional Army by getting it into the politics is an issue where you will not find me disagreeing.
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  15. indushek
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    Interesting reading, great work all the posters. Learnt a lot.

    @Joe

    Man that was some serious post man, are u a editor for some publication or what?
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