YAHYA KHAN, GENERAL AGHA MUHAMMAD (1917-1980) Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan was born in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and joined the British Indian Army He opted for service in Pakistan following the partition of India With his career under the active sponsorship of General Muhammad Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan rose rapidly in the officer ranks of the Pakistan army He received the ultimate reward for his loyal service to Ayub Khan when in September 1966 he was promoted to the rank of full general and appointed to succeed General Muhammad Musa as commander in chief of the Pakistan army Two-and-a-half years later, at the height of the anti-Ayub Khan movement, Yahya Khan decided to act against his mentor He forced Muhammad Ayub Khan out of office and nominated himself president and chief martial-law administrator The Yahya Khan administration took two important steps: it dissolved the One Unit of West Pakistan and promulgated the result of this reengineering as the Legal Framework Order (LFO) of 1970 The LFO turned back Pakistan’s constitutional clock by more than two decades It discarded the principle of representational parity between East and West Pakistan With this important change, it was now possible for an East Pakistani political party to gain a comfortable majority in the National Assembly and thus form a government without assistance from the representatives of West Pakistan

Yahya Khan and his advisors, banking on the perpetuation of the fractious politics of East Pakistan, did not think that such an outcome would ever be possible The elections of 1970, held under the LFO, proved all these calculations wrong Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League, by winning 160 seats in a house of 300, was now in a position to dictate its terms to West Pakistan Yahya Khan panicked, and in this he was encouraged by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto On the night between 25 and 26 March 1971, Yahya Khan ordered the military to restore law and order in East Pakistan Mujibur Rahman was arrested and sent to a prison in West Pakistan, and the Awami League was banned What followed was an exceptionally bloody civil war in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed Millions of Bengalis fled from East Pakistan and took refuge in neighboring India India used the arrival of the refugees in its territory as the pretext for intervening in the civil war Aided by the Indian troops, the Bengali resistance force entered Dacca (Dhaka) on 16 December 1971 The Pakistan army surrendered to the commander of the Indian army on the same day

Four days later, following a turbulent session with seniorand middle-level officers of the Pakistan army held in the General Headquarters Lecture Hall at Rawalpindi, President Yahya Khan agreed to resign and hand over power to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Yahya Khan’s role in the East Pakistan crisis was investigated by a commission set up by the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto under the chairmanship of Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman The commission’s report was not released to the public See also HAMOODUR RAHMAN COMMISSION

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