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AZAM KHAN LIEUTENANT GENERAL MUHAMMAD (1908-1994)

AZAM KHAN, LIEUTENANT GENERAL MUHAMMAD (1908-1994) Of the three senior generals of the Pakistani army who helped Muhammad Ayub Khan stage his coup d’etat in October 1958, Lieutenant General Muhammad Azam Khan was the most experienced in civilian affairs He was the general officer commanding (GOC) Lahore garrison when in 1953 Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad called on the army to bring the anti-Ahmadiya movement under control Azam Khan, as martial law administrator, became the virtual governor of Punjab province Not only did he move with dispatch and quickly reestablish law and order, but the army under his command also performed a number of civic functions Muhammad Ayub Khan brought Azam Khan into his Cabinet as “senior minister” and put him in charge of the Department of Refugee Rehabilitation The problem of rehabilitating the refugees from India, particularly those who had settled in the rural areas of Pakistan, had proved intractable up until then The success of the operation launched by Azam Khan made him the most popular military figure in the martial government of Muhammad Ayub Khan With the refugees resettled, Azam Khan was ready to move on to other things In 1960, President Muhammad Ayub Khan sent him to Dacca (now Dhaka) as governor of East Pakistan The new governor not only put together a good administration in Dacca (now Dhaka) but gained a great deal of respect for advancing Bengal’s desire to participate meaningfully in government affairs



He concluded that political participation and not paternalism was a solution to East Pakistan’s political problems But Muhammad Ayub Khan was not prepared to accept this assessment He was also worried that Azam Khan, having become popular in both wings of the country, had the credibility to effectively challenge him politically Azam Khan was called back to West Pakistan in 1962 and was succeeded by Abdul Monem Khan, a little-known Bengali politicianIn 1964, the Combined Opposition Party (COP) toyed with the idea of nominating Azam Khan as its candidate to oppose Ayub Khan in the presidential elections of January 1965 The ultimate candidate was Fatima Jinnah, however, and Azam Khan, by campaigning for her with great enthusiasm, contributed to her relative success in the eastern wing of the country After Fatima Jinnah’s defeat, Azam Khan announced his retirement from politics

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