Ayub Khan the First Military Ruler of Pakistan
Ayub Khan ruled for 10 years, but his rule was not bad for Pakistan
Pakistan Under Ayub Khan
Pakistan achieved freedom in 1947 along with India. Mohammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan had a grand vision of democracy, but it collapsed with his death. The period after his death was one of political instability. The people of Pakistan were getting fed up and to top it the Pakistan prime Minister was shot dead. In such a scenario the first Pakistan Military rule was ushered in. The first military dictator was General (later self-styled Field Marshal) Ayub Khan.
General Ayub Khan
Ayub Khan was a course mate of General Cariappa and had cut his teeth in Burma as part of the Chamar regiment (though later he claimed he was from the Punjab regiment). The period before Ayub took over was one of instability and no governance. Prices had shot up and the people of Pakistan were looking for a savior.
In 1958 Ayub along with Iskandar Mirza carried out a military Coup. He quickly deposed Mirza and himself took over as the chief martial law Administrator. The coup was blood less and the fact remains that the common man welcomed the take over by Ayub Khan. The take over by the army resulted in a crash of prices and people saw this as a direct benefit of military rule. Most important Ayub Khan brought in stability and political activity was banned.
But it must go to the credit of Ayub that he unleashed no dark powers and generally his rule was benign. No politician was shot dead under him and my assessment is that at least for the first few years of his power the Pakistani people welcomed his rule.
Ayub was alive to the aspirations of the Pakistan people and he ushered in what he called ‘basic democracy’. In effect it meant that there would be elections but only individuals could contest and no political party was allowed to participate. I can say that this Basic democracy was not all that bad, as it did away with political parties and its added troubles of funding and slush money. But again basic democracy had a flaw as the only people who could be elected were the rich landlords and industrialists. These people thus supported Ayub as they had a vested interest in his continuance.
Basic democracy though good in spirit did not serve its purpose and after some time restiveness over took the Pakistan Masses and an agitation started against Ayub Khan.
In the field of foreign policy he allied with the USA. He also took a fateful decision to allow U-2 flights by the CIA over the Soviet Union. In fact the U-2 piloted by Gary Powers which were shot down over the Soviet Union had used a Pakistan airfield as a staging post.
Ayub rued his chance of attacking India and settling the Kashmir issue in 1962, when the Chinese had attacked India. But he decided to settle the issue once for all and accordingly planned ‘operation Gibraltar in 1965.
But over all he was a faithful ally of the USA and a grateful USA thinking he was part of the grand alliance against Communism showered the best of weaponry on the Pakistan army. Thus Patton Tanks and long-range guns including the F86 Sabre jets became part of the Pakistan army arsenal. Ayub also visited USA and UK where his name was also linked with the starlet Christine Keeler
War with India and Kashmir
Ayub had joined the western alliance only to get even with India. Once a large quantity of weaponry had reached the army he felt confident and decided to capture the Indian held Kashmir. He thus allowed mujaheddin to infiltrate into the valley from Azad Kashmir and these mujaheddin began to spread in the country side. The Indian army had no clue till a shepherd brought it to the notice of the Indian army and then an operation was launched to eliminate the infiltrators.
However Ayub launched an attack in the Chamb Jaurian sector, with his newly acquired Patton Tanks. Here he made a grave miscalculation as he thought that the war would remain a local Kashmir conflict and rest of the Indo-Pak border would not be touched. But a hard pressed Indian army opened a front at Lahore. Not much was achieved and after 3 weeks both sides were war-weary and a cease-fire was called for and agreed.
The Ousting Of Ayub
The war did not enhance Ayub prestige which took a nose dive. Rampant corruption and his patronization of a few rich families had its repercussions and all over agitations and demonstrations started against him. Ayub could have used force, but that was not his mien and he resigned in 1968 and handed over power to Yahiya Khan
Ayub khan was the first military ruler of Pakistan. He entered the arena at a time when there was political instability in Pakistan. He did a good job within limits, but he failed in setting up democratic institutions in the country. People in Pakistan still respect him