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April 15, 2014
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Pakistani rulers who also remained defence ministers

April 15, 2014

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LAHORE: The paramount importance attached to the Defence Ministry in Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that during the last 66 years since country’s inception, this portfolio has often been held by numerous presidents, prime ministers and Army Chiefs, a few of whom had later gone on to assume the role of Martial Law Administrators after snatching power from elected civilian rulers.
A few other formidable national politicians have also called shots at the Defence Ministry.Among these politicians of virtue were the ones considered important enough to have been picked as chief ministers, interior ministers, mayors and governors either before assuming this slot or were deemed most suitable for these no-ordinary assignments after they had headed this vital office that certainly has a few thorns attached to it as well.
It is noteworthy that a Naval Commander-in-Chief, Vice Admiral Afzal Rahman Khan, had also served on this position (October 12, 1966 to April 5, 1969) during the military regime of Field Marshal Ayub Khan. He was also the interior minister at the same time.
AR Khan was also the longest serving Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Navy, with a tenure spanning from 1959 to 1966. With their respective tenures as defence ministers in brackets, here follow the names of the 10 Pakistani prime ministers who had also opted to spearhead the defence portfolio:
Liaquat Ali Khan (August 15, 1947 to October 16, 1951), Khawaja Nazimuddin (October 25, 1951 to April 17, 1953), Muhammad Ali Bogra (April 18, 1953 to October 24, 1953), Chaudhry Muhammad Ali (August 12, 1955 to September 12, 1956), Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (September 13, 1956 to October 18, 1957), Feroz Khan Noon (December 19, 1957 to April 8, 1958), Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (December 24, 1971 to July 5, 1977), Muhammad Khan Junejo (March 25, 1985 to May 29, 1988), Benazir Bhutto (December 4, 1988 to August 6, 1990) and Nawaz Sharif (February 17, 1997 to October 12, 1999 and June 7, 2013 to November

26, 2013).
Field Marshal Ayub Khan had served as Defence Minister twice—-once as Army Chief between October 24, 1954 and August 11, 1955; and then for a period between October 28, 1958 and October 21, 1966 while he was serving as country’s President.
Another Pakistani President-cum-Army Chief Agha Yahya Khan was the Defence Minister between April 6, 1969 and December 20, 1971.
Yet another President-cum-Army Chief General Muhammad Ziaul Haq, the man who had declared the third Martial Law in country’s history, had kept this portfolio under his control between January 14, 1985 and August 27, 1978; and had again decided to be in charge of this office between February 27, 1985 and March 24, 1985.
So, Ayub Khan, General Ziaul Haq and Nawaz Sharif have held the reins of this ministry twice.Renowned Sindhi nationalist Mir Ali Ahmed Khan Talpur,who had supported Fatima Jinnah against Ayub Khan and the Balochs during their eventful national movement, was General Zia’s Defence Minister between August 28, 1978 and February 26, 1985.
General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s President and Army Chief, had remained country’s Defence Minister between October 12, 1999 and November 23, 2002.
Meanwhile, Punjab’s second Chief Minister Mian Mumtaz Daultana was also chosen as Defence Minister in the short-lived government of Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar in 1957. Daultana was Punjab’s Chief Executive between 1951 and 1953, when he was dismissed by Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin following his failure to stem the famous 1953 anti-Qadyani Lahore riots.
Similarly, Sindh’s first Chief Minister Muhammad Ayub Khuhro became the Defence Minister in the government of Premier Feroz Khan Noon, before the imposition of Martial Law by Ayub Khan.
Another Sindh Chief Minister Ghous Ali Shah was entrusted with the task to look after the Defence Ministry by the then Premier Nawaz Sharif between September 10, 1991 and July 17, 1993.
Aftab Shaban Mirani, another Sindh Chief Minister (1990), had served as Defence Minister between October 19, 1993 and November 5, 1996. This was during Benazir Bhutto’s second stint in power.
A two-time former Sindh Governor, Mahmoud A. Haroon, was Pakistan’s caretaker Defence Minister between June 9, 1988 and December 1, 1988. Haroon had also served as Federal Interior Minister (1978-1984) and Mayor of Karachi (1954-55).
Shahid Hamid, who later served as Punjab’s Governor between March 11, 1997 and August 18, 1999, was also a caretaker Defence Minister between November 6, 1996 and February 17, 1997.
The Pakistan People’s Party turncoat, late Rao Sikandar Iqbal, was country’s Defence Minister between November 23, 2002 and November 15, 2007.
Salim Abbas Jilani was a caretaker Defence Minister between November 16, 2007 and March 25, 2008.
Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar had enjoyed this portfolio between March 31, 2008 and June 3, 2012, while his successor Naveed Qamar had set foot in this office for a few months between June 4, 2012 and March 15, 2013.
The vocal PML-N leader Khawaja Asif is in this office for the last 138 days or since November 27, 2013, but is currently having uneasy times following a much-publicized outburst against the Pakistani Armed Forces.
Khawaja Asif might like to recall the case of the former State Minister for Defence Production, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Jatoi, who was asked to tender his resignation in September 2010 by the then Pakistan People’s Party government for his anti-Army and judiciary remarks.
After meeting the Jamhoori Watan Party President, Nawabzada Talal Bugti in Quetta, Abdul Qayyum Jatoi had said the Army was not meant to kill innocent citizens and had alleged that although the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary had hailed from Faisalabad, he had used a Balochistan domicile to become a judge.
Though he was not a full-fledged Defence Minister, the PPP stalwart Jatoi had responded to criticism by saying that freedom of speech was everybody’s right and that he was just expressing his views.

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