ARIF, GENERAL (RETIRED) KHALID MAHMUD (1930- ) General Khalid Mahmud Arif served President Zia ul-Haq from 1977, when the military took over political control of Pakistan, to 1987, when he retired from the military He was Zia ul-Haq’s principal advisor during this period The most momentous decision of the Zia period came in 1978-1979 In 1978, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was tried for murder and sentenced to death by the Lahore High Court In early 1979, the death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court, and Bhutto was executed in Rawalpindi on 4 April of that year General Arif was by Zia’s side as he made these decisions It was also during this period that General Zia promised several times to hold general elections but each time failed to keep his word Once again, he turned to Arif for advice and counsel, as he prolonged his stay in power In 1983, the opposition launched its most serious challenge to the military regime in the form of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) Both Zia and Arif, turning to history for a lesson, decided to deal firmly with the opposition

They did not want to commit the mistakes made in 1969 by President Muhammad Ayub Khan and in 1977 by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, when both sought to accommodate the opposition General Arif was important to Zia ul-Haq not only because of the loyalty he showed to his friend He was also President Zia’s main link with the armed forces and, as such, played a critical role in ensuring that the president continued to receive the support of the senior officers As Zia became more involved with the affairs of state, he left military matters mostly to General Arif In March 1984, K M Arif was promoted to the rank of full (four-star) general, and was appointed vice chief of army staff (VCOAS) As the VCOAS, General Arif was the effective head of the army He was perhaps the only person Zia could have trusted to lead the armed forces at that time General Arif retired in March 1987 after completing his three-year term and was replaced by General Aslam Beg Unlike some of his other colleagues-Generals Hameed Gul and Aslam Beg, among them-General Arif did not seek a political career for himself after retiring from the army

He chose instead to influence public opinion on important matters by publishing two books and by contributing columns to Dawn, Pakistan’s largest-circulating English-language newspaper

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