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HABIBULLAH KHAN LIEUTENANT GENERAL (1916-1996)

HABIBULLAH KHAN, LIEUTENANT GENERAL (1916-1996)Born in the Northwest Frontier Province, Habibullah Khan joined the British Indian army in 1937 and the Pakistani army in 1947 He rose rapidly in the ranks and was a senior two-star general at the time of Muhammad Ayub Khan’s coup d’etat Among army circles he was considered to be highly competent and not without political ambitions of his own President Muhammad Ayub Khan had good reasons to be wary of Habibullah Khan, even though his second son, Gohar Ayub, was married to the general’s daughter From Muhammad Ayub Khan’s perspective, it was better to have Habibullah Khan out of the army and into a career from which he could not pose any real political threat to the president Accordingly, Habibullah Khan was encouraged to move into industry, which he did by establishing Janana Demaluchoo, a large cotton-textile plant in Kohat, a town in the Northwest Frontier Province The plant was very well managed and made money for its owner, which he invested in Gandhara Motors, an automobile assembly plant near Karachi, set up with assistance from General Motors Gandhara Motors was equally successful, and also made a great deal of money for Habibullah Khan and Gohar Ayub, the latter in the meantime having joined his fatherin-law’s business The rapidly rising fortune of Habibullah Khan and his family seemed to vindicate Muhammad Ayub Khan’s confidence in the ability of civil and military bureaucrats to become successful industrial entrepreneurs However, a large number of Pakistanis saw Habibullah’s rise to the position of wealth and influence as an example of governmental nepotism and corruption



At the time that Habibullah Khan began to count himself among Pakistan’s wealthiest people, Mahbubul Haq, the Planning Commission’s chief economist, delivered his “twenty-two families speech,” in which he accused the government of following a model of economic development that deliberately favored the rich over the poor The speech had a great political impact, and Habibullah Khan became the symbol of all that was considered wrong with Muhammad Ayub Khan’s economic philosophy When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over the reins of government from the armed forces in December 1971, he exploited the sentiment against Muhammad Ayub Khan and the distributive consequences of his economic policies by arresting Habibullah Khan and parading him handcuffed on national television At the same time, the Bhutto administration nationalized Gandhara Industries and merged it with other automobile plants to form the Automobile Corporation of Pakistan Habibullah Khan survived Bhutto, however He was appointed minister in charge of industry by President Zia ul-Haq in the first civilian cabinet to take office under the new military president The cabinet was made up of technocrats Habibullah Khan left the cabinet a few months later when President Zia decided to replace experts with politicians He went back to managing his large industrial empire, while Gohar Ayub, Muhammad Ayub Khan’s son and Habibullah Khan’s son-in-law, entered politics

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