Yahya Khan

1966 – 1970

Yahya Khan
Yahya Khan (cropped version).jpg
3rd President of Pakistan
In office
25 March 1969 – 20 December 1971
Prime Minister Nurul Amin
Preceded by Ayub Khan
Succeeded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
5 April 1969 – 20 December 1971
Prime Minister Nurul Amin
Preceded by Mian Arshad Hussain
Succeeded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Minister of Defence
In office
5 April 1969 – 20 December 1971
Prime Minister Nurul Amin
Preceded by Afzal Rahman Khan
Succeeded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Chief of Army Staff
In office
18 June 1966 – 20 December 1971
Deputy Abdul Hamid Khan
Preceded by Muhammad Musa
Succeeded by Gul Hassan Khan
Personal details
Born Agha Yahya Khan
(1917-02-04)4 February 1917
Chakwal, Punjab, British India
(now in Punjab, Pakistan)[1]
Died 10 August 1980(1980-08-10) (aged 63)
Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan
Political party Independent
Domestic partner Akleem Akhtar
Alma mater United States Army Command and General Staff College
Religion Islam
Military service
Allegiance  British Raj
Service/branch  British Indian Army
 Pakistan Army
Years of service 1939–1971
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Unit 10th Battalion, Baloch Regiment (PA – 98)
Commands 111th Infantry Brigade
Deputy Chief of General Staff
Chief of General Staff
14th Infantry Division
15th Infantry Division
Deputy Chief of Army Staff
Chief of Army Staff
Battles/wars World War II
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Awards Hilal-e-Pakistan

Agha Yahya Khan (Urdu: آغا محمد یحیی خان; February 4, 1917 – August 10, 1980), was a four-star general officer and politician who served as the 3rd President of Pakistan from 1969 until East Pakistan's secession to Bangladesh in 1971, and Pakistan's defeat in the Indo-Pakistani war of the same year.[2] Serving with distinction in World War II as a British Indian Army officer, Yahya opted for Pakistan in 1947 and became one of the earliest senior local officers in its army. After helping conduct Operation Grand Slam during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, Yahya was made the army's Commander-in-Chief in 1966. Appointed to succeed him by outgoing president Ayub Khan in 1969, Yahya dissolved the government and declared martial law for the second time in Pakistan's history.[2] He held the country's first free and fair elections in 1970, which saw Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Awami League party in East Pakistan win the majority vote. Pressured by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, whose party had won in West Pakistan but had far less votes, Yahya delayed handing over power to Mujib. As civil unrest erupted all over East Pakistan, Yahya initiated Operation Searchlight to quell the rebellion.[3]

With reports of widespread atrocities by the Pakistan Army against Bengali civilians, and counter-killings of Biharis and suspected Pakistani sympathisers by the Mukti Bahini insurgency,[3] the crisis grew deeper under Yahya. In December 1971, regional tensions escalated into the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, with neighbouring India intervening on the side of the Bengali fighters.[4] Pakistan was defeated on 16 December 1971, with 93,000 of its army officers in Dhaka turning prisoners-of-war, and East Pakistan seceding to become Bangladesh. Yahya handed over the presidency to Bhutto and stepped down as army chief in disgrace.[5]

As the new president, Bhutto stripped Yahya of all previous military decorations and placed him under house arrest for most of the 1970s.[5] When Bhutto was overthrown in a military coup in 1977, Yahya was released by General Fazle Haq.[2] He died in 1980.[6] He is viewed largely negatively by Pakistani historians, and is considered among the least successful of the country's leaders.[7]
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