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LAHORE: Due to turn 59 on November 11, the sitting Pakistan Army chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, has got another three-year term in his stipulated service term Monday from Prime Minister Imran Khan after having served on this prestigious slot for around 995 days since November 29, 2016, when his outgoing predecessor Gen Raheel Sharif had formally handed over the baton of command to him.
Gen Bajwa had joined the Pakistan Army in 1978 and got commissioned in 16 Baloch Regiment on October 24, 1980, which means that his service length will be more than 44 years when he retires in 2022, or one of the longest military careers ever in the country’shistory. The longest and shortest military careers of Pakistan Army chiefs: Of all the army chiefs that Pakistan has had till date, Gen Pervez Musharraf has had the longest military career spread over 45 years, seven months and nine days, while Field Marshal Ayub Khan has had the shortest service length of 30 years, 10 months and 24 days.
Both Musharraf and Ayub had also served as the country’s presidents in uniform. Gen Musharraf had served as army chief for nine years, one month and 22 days. However, as far as the longest tenure of a Pakistani army chief is concerned, Ziaul Haq had served on this position between March 1, 1976 and August 17, 1988, which thereby signifies that his term in office had lasted 12 years, 5 months and 16 days.
Gen Gul Hassan had the shortest tenure as commander-in-chief, having served on this post for just two months and 11 days.
In 2016, Gen Bajwa had become the fourth oldest army chief of the country at the time of his elevation.
The Ghakhar Mandi (Gujranwala district)-born Gen Bajwa shares his birthplace with Pakistan’s ninth president, Muhammad Rafiq Tarar (born on November 2, 1929), who had served the country as the head of state from January 20, 1998 to June 20, 2001. He was thus the fourth oldest country’s army chief. The three oldest army chiefs ever to be appointed are: Gen Raheel Sharif (born June 16, 1956), who was appointed in November 2013 at the age of 57 years, five months and 13 days, remains the oldest-ever General to serve as the country’s army chief.
The second-oldest was Gen Mirza Aslam Beg (born on August 2, 1931), who was made Chief of the Army Staff on August 17, 1988 at the age of 57 years and 15 days. He remained in office till August 1, 1992.
The third-oldest army chief was Gen Tikka Khan (July 7, 1915-March 28, 2002), who was elevated to spearhead the Pakistani military on March 3, 1972 at the age of 56 years and seven months. He occupied this office till March 1, 1976. Youngest-ever Pakistani army chief in history:
Pakistan’s first native commander-in-chief, Field Marshal Ayub Khan was appointed to this post on January 17, 1951 at the age of only 43 years, eight months and three days, making him the youngest-ever Pakistani military boss to rise to this position. The brief service and career details of all Pakistan’s Commanders-in-Chiefs and army chiefs since 1947: The Karachi-born Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is the 10th Pakistani Army chief since 1972, when the office of the Commander-in-Chief was re-named as Chief of the Army Staff (COAS).
Research conducted by the Jang Group and Geo Television Network reveals that the reins of country’s military force have been held by 16 four-star generals (six Commanders-in-Chief and 10 army chiefs) during the last 72 years, bringing the average duration of their tenures to 4.5 years.
Between 1947 and 1972, the six Commanders-in-Chief who headed the Pakistan Army included the Trinidad and Tobago-born Gen Frank Messervy (1893-1974), Gen Douglas Gracey (1894–1964), Ayub Khan (1907-1974), Gen Musa Khan (1908-1991), the Chakwal-born Gen Yahya Khan (1917-1980) and Quetta-born Lt Gen Gul Hassan (1921-1999). Pakistan’s first commander-in-chief, Frank Messervy, son of a bank manager, had commanded Pakistan Army from August 15, 1947 to February 10, 1948 or for 175 days only to be more precise. He was commissioned in the Indian Army on January 21, 1913 and remained on job till August 22, 1948, which means his career as a soldier was about 35 years, seven months and one-day long.
The second commander-in-chief, Gen Douglas Gracey, had served as the head of military between February 11, 1948 and January 16, 1951 for two years, 11 months and five days. The Muzaffarnagar (India)-born Gracey was commissioned in September 15, 1915, which means he had a military career of 35 years, 7 months and 14 days till April 29, 1951. Like his predecessor Messervy, Gracey too was guilty of not sending troops to the Kashmir front despite standing orders from Quaid-i-Azam. (References: Various editions of the London Gazette).
Pakistan’s third army commander Ayub Khan was appointed as the country’s first native commander-in-chief by the then prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan, in 1951.
As army chief, Ayub served between January 17, 1951 and October 26, 1958. His tenure as army chief lasted seven years, nine months and nine days. He got commission on February 2, 1928, which means his military career was 30 years, 10 months and 24 days long. When Ayub was handed over reins of Pakistan Army, he was preferred over senior generals including Maj Gen Iftikhar Khan, Maj Gen Ishfakul Majid, Maj Gen Akbar Khan and Maj Gen NAM Raza.
Initially, it was Gen Iftikhar Khan (1907-1949), who was promoted to the four-star rank and appointed as first native army chief, but he had died in a plane crash. Gen Musa Khan (1908-1991) then succeeded Ayub. An excellent hockey player, the Quetta-born Gen Musa’s promotion had also led to suppression of a few seniors like Sher Ali Khan Pataudi and Latif Khan, both course mates in 1933.
However, while Gen Sher Ali Pataudi stood retired, Latif took back his resignation at the personal intercession of Ayub. Gen Musa had served from October 27, 1958 to June 17, 1966. He had received two extensions as a commander-in-chief from the period of 1958 till 1966. The term of Gen Musa lasted around seven years and 11 months. He had got commission from Indian Military Academy in Dehradun on February 1, 1935, which means his military career was 31 years, six months and 16 days long.
Gen Musa was succeeded by Gen Yahya Khan, who was appointed the country’s fifth army commander on June 18, 1966, a post he had held till December 20, 1971. He had received two extensions as a commander-in-chief from the period of 1958 till 1966. Yahya had superseded two of his senior generals; Messrs Altaf Qadir and Bakhtiar Rana. His tenure as army chief was five years, three months and two- day long. Yahya was commissioned in British Army on July 15, 1939, which means his military career had spanned over a period of 32 years, five months and five days.
In December 1971, East Pakistan had seceded to become Bangladesh during his tenure. Yahya had then handed over the presidency to Bhutto and stepped down as army chief in disgrace. Bhutto had stripped Yahya of all previous military decorations and placed him under house arrest for most of the 1970s. When Bhutto was overthrown in a military coup in 1977, Yahya was released by Gen Zia. Pakistan Army’s sixth commander-in-chief was Lt-Gen Gul Hassan, who served from December 20, 1971 to March 3, 1972.
An excellent boxer and hockey player Gul Hassan had superseded his senior Lt-Gen Tikka Khan. Actually, he was the last commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army. Those who succeeded him were called Chief of Army Staff.
He was deposed by the then president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after the Hamoodur Rahman Commission recommended his ouster. Gen Gul Hassan was commissioned on February 22, 1942, which means his military career had spanned over a period of 30 years and nine days. Gul Hassan had also served as ADC to Governor General Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Following trial, Gen Gul Hassan was immediately retired from the army and further relieved from any benefits given to the retired officers.
(References: The December 14, 1949 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, Christophe Jaffrelot’s book “A history of Pakistan and its origins”, Karl Newman’s book “Pakistan under Ayub Khan, Bhutto und Ziaul Haq” and Christopher Clapham, and George Philip’s book “The political dilemmas of military regimes”).
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had then promoted Tikka Khan as full General and appointed him as Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) instead of C-in-C. Tikka’s promotion to full general, as a superseded lieutenant-general, remains the only example of its kind in the Pakistan Army. According to Gen Mitha’s book ‘Unlikely beginnings: a soldier’s life’, it was Gul Hassan’s lobbying at the GHQ that had saved the then Brig Ziaul Haq from being terminated.
Zia, who was in Jordan in 1971, was accused of disobeying the GHQ orders by commanding a Jordanian armoured division against the Palestinians – resulting in killings of thousands of people. Maj Gen Nawazish had recommended and asked Yahya Khan for the court martial of Brig (later General) Zia, but Gul Hassan had successfully advocated for Zia.
Along with Air Marshal Rahim Khan, Gul Hassan had then played a crucial role in forcing Yahya Khan to step down from the presidency and Bhutto was asked to fly back home from Rome instead of going to New York. In the last few years of his life, he was dividing his time between Vienna and Rawalpindi.
(Reference: Peter Wilson Prabhakar’s book “Wars, proxy wars and terrorism: Post Independent India).
Gen Tikka Khan (1915-2002) was the seventh head of Pakistan Army, who served between March 3, 1972 and March 1, 1976. In March 1976, Tikka Khan was appointed defence minister by the then premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. As army chief he served just two days less than four years.
Tikka was commissioned on December 22, 1940, which means his military career had spanned over a period of 35 years, two months and seven days. He had fought World War II as part of the Indian Army. In 1974, Gen Tikka Khan had planned and approved the military operations in Balochistan that earned him notoriety as the “Butcher of Balochistan” by his critics. (Reference: Indian newspaper “The Hindu”).
Gen Zia’s July 1977 coup had led to the arrest of both Bhutto and Gen Tikka Khan. Bhutto was executed in 1979, after which Gen Tikka Khan emerged as one of the leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party, becoming its general secretary, during a time when many of Bhutto’s trusted confidants had deserted this political entity. When Tikka died on March 28, 2002, he had received a state burial.
Gen Zia (1924-1988), who also remains Pakistan’s longest-serving head of state with a rule spread over 11 years, was also promoted ahead of senior lieutenant generals Muhammad Shariff, Akbar Khan, Aftab Ahmed Khan, Azmat Baksh Awan, Agha Ibrahim Akram, Abdul Majeed Malik and Ghulam Jilani Khan. The then premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had opted to choose the most junior of the lot though. Zia had thus superseded seven senior lieutenant-generals. The senior most at that time, Lt-Gen Shariff, was promoted as a General and made the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. As mentioned above, Zia remained in office of the army chief for 12 years, five months and 16 days. He was commissioned in the British Indian Army on May 12, 1943 and had served against Nazi Germany and its allies in World War II. So overall, his military career had spanned well over 45 years and three months. He had declared the third martial law in the country’s history in 1977 after deposing an elected premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Zia was also the sixth president of Pakistan. Gen Mirza Aslam Beg (born 1931) was appointed Pakistan’s ninth army chief after Gen Zia’s death on August 17, 1988, a post he had held till August 16, 1991. His tenure had lasted just 16 days less than four years. Born in Uttar Pradesh, Gen Beg was denied an extension by the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1991. Beg got commission on August 23, 1952, which means his military career had spread over a period of nearly 40 years. After retirement, Gen Beg was accused of playing a role in the plane crash that killed Gen Zia and was summoned to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2012 for his alleged role in the Mehran Bank scandal, for bribing Opposition politicians with millions of rupees prior to elections in 1990.
Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua (1937-1993) was the 10th army chief from August 16, 1991 till his sudden death in office on January 8, 1993. His term as army chief had lasted just one year, four months and 22 days. Various reputed international media outlets like The Independent, the New York Times, the Economist and the Asian Recorder had reported that at the completion of three-year term of Gen Beg, four generals were in the race to replace him. These generals included Lt-Gen Shamim Alam Khan, Lt-Gen Asif Nawaz, Lt-Gen Zulfiqar Akhtar Naz and Lt-Gen Hamid Gul. While the senior two (Gen Zulfikar and Gen Hamid Gul) were promoted as four-star generals, Shamim Alam Khan was named as chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Asif Nawaz, who was recommended by Gen Rahimuddin Khan, was finally appointed the army chief to replace Aslam Beg on June 11, 1991. Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua had suffered a heart attack while he was jogging near his Rawalpindi home. He is widely remembered as having died under mysterious circumstances. His widow had demanded an investigation and registration of a murder case. Former ISI DG Gen Asad Durrani had supported probe in this case.
Born in Chakri (Jhelum), Gen Janjua had got commission on March 31, 1957, which means his military career was spread over a period of 35 years, nine months and eight days.
The Peshawar-born Gen Abdul Wahid Kakar (born 1937) was appointed the 11th Chief of Army Staff on January 12, 1993 and had held the office till January 12, 1996. His tenure as army chief was exactly three years long. Kakar got commission on October 18, 1959, which means his military career was spread over a period of 36 years, two months and 25 days. At least four senior generals – Rehm Dil Bhatti, Mohammad Ashraf, Farrukh Khan and Arif Bangash – were superseded with Gen Kakar’s appointment. Among these generals, the last two had opted to stay in the army.
(Reference: Maleeha Lodhi’s book “Pakistan’s encounter with democracy”). Gen Kakar was a nephew of eminent politician Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar. After taking over as army chief, Gen Kakar had forced both Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Nawaz Sharif to tender their resignations at the height of the 1993 constitutional crisis.
Gen Jehangir Karamat (born 1941) was made the 12th chief of the army staff on January 12, 1996 and had held this office till October 7, 1998. He had served on this slot for two years, eight months and 25 days. He later became chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee in 1997. He is also one of very few army generals in the military history of Pakistan to have relinquished charge over a disagreement with civilian authorities.
Karamat got commission on October 14, 1961, which means he enjoyed a nearly 37-year-long military career. Karamat was appointed army chief by the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who had given the green signal before the outgoing army chief Gen Kakar’s three-year term was about to expire. Karamat was the senior most general at that time, and therefore he had superseded none at promotion to four-star general. There were four senior generals in the race to replace Gen Kakar. These generals were Jehangir Karamat, Nasir Akhtar, Muhammad Tariq and Javed Ashraf Qazi.
(References: Shuja Nawaz’s book “Crossed swords: Pakistan, its army, and the wars within”, Mazhar Aziz’s book “Military control in Pakistan: the parallel state” and a BBC report of October 8, 1998).
In 2004, the Karachi-born Gen Jehangir Karamat was appointed as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US where he served from November 2004 until June 2006. In 1995, along with Maj Gen Ali Kuli Khan of Military Intelligence, Gen Karamat had exposed the attempted coup d'état against the government of the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who had later conferred him with a national award. Gen Pervez Musharraf (born 1943) was the 13th chief of army staff from October 6, 1998 till November 28, 2007. He served as army chief for nine years, one month and 22 days. Nawaz Sharif had preferred him to Gen Ali Quli Khan and Gen Khalid Nawaz Khan. He had also served as country’s 10th president from June 2001 to August 2008. The 14th army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was the first four-star officer to receive a term extension from any democratic government.
Born on April 20, 1952, Gen Kayani had joined the army on August 29, 1971 and retired on November 28, 2013. As army chief, he had served for six years. At the time of his promotion, Kayani had superseded Lt-Gen Khalid Kidwai, who was on an extension for one year.
(References: The Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal etc). And then came Gen Raheel Sharif (born in Quetta on June 16, 1956), who was appointed on November 29, 2013. He was commissioned in October 1976, meaning thereby that his career as a soldier had lasted 40 years and almost two months. Gen Raheel was elevated over two more senior generals; Lt-Gen Haroon Aslam and Gen Rashad Mahmood.