Daily Observer Report
On this day, 19 April in 1974, Pakistan's first military ruler Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan passed away. That field marshal's rank was of course one he had given himself in 1960, two years after he had seized power in a coup that would be replicated in future by other ambitious generals in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Ayub Khan was appointed commander-in-chief of the Pakistan army in 1951 and curiously held on to that position even as he served as a minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Bogra in the early 1950s. In the early 1960s, Bogra would be Ayub's minister for external affairs until the former's death in January 1963, when he would be replaced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
General Ayub Khan, in cahoots with President Iskandar Mirza, imposed martial law in Pakistan on 7 October 1958. Twenty days later, on 27 October, he stripped Mirza of all powers, packed him off to Quetta and then to London a few days later. Ayub was now both President of Pakistan and Chief Martial Law Administrator. He would rule Pakistan for more than a decade, during which time he would pursue a brand of politics that would leave the country hobbled in a variety of ways. He commandeered part of the Muslim League (which came to be known as Convention Muslim League) and turned it into his political vehicle. He picked out sycophants in East and West Pakistan, made them governors and ministers and left it to them to persecute opposition politicians. On his watch, Pakistan went into two disastrous armed conflicts with India, in May 1965 over the Rann of Kutch, followed by a full-fledged war in September of that year. In January 1966, he signed a peace agreement with Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent.
Ayub Khan promulgated the Elective Bodies' Disqualification Ordinance (EBDO) soon after seizing power. Through the measure, he clamped a ban on leading politicians, including former prime minister HS Suhrawardy, and had many of them carted off to prison. Almost every leading opposition political leader went through long periods of incarceration in Ayub's decade. During his time in power, disparity between East and West Pakistan widened to record levels, to a point where Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came up with the Six Point plan for regional autonomy in February 1966. Ayub threatened to employ the language of weapons against the proponents of the Six Points, imprisoned Mujib and other Bengali politicians and in December 1967 had his regime unearth a so-called conspiracy case against Mujib and thirty four other Bengalis. The case collapsed in the face of a mass upsurge in February 1969 and Ayub was forced to release all the accused without
A countrywide revolt, spearheaded by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani in East Pakistan and Khan Abdul Wali Khan and Z A Bhutto in West Pakistan compelled President Ayub Khan to relinquish power and hand over political authority to General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, the army chief, on 25 March 1969. Till his death in 1974, save for an appearance before the Hamoodur Rahman Commission, instituted by President Bhutto, his one-time protégé, to inquire into the causes of the Pakistan army's defeat in Bangladesh in 1971, he lived in quiet retirement.
Ayub Khan's legacy --- of seizing power through extra-constitutional means --- was upheld in Pakistan and Bangladesh in subsequent times. Pakistan witnessed the rise of General Yahya Khan in 1969, General Ziaul Haq in 1977 and General Pervez Musharraf in 1999 to power. In Bangladesh, General Ziaur Rahman and General Hussein Muhammad Ershad seized power in 1975 and 1982, in that order.