ATP Quiz: Echoes of Ayub Khan Linger in Pakistan

Posted on August 7, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Quiz, Books, People, Politics
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Adil Najam

I was, indeed, surprised by the comments on our last ATP Quiz. Maybe I am too much of an academic and think that everyone has also read the things I have. Or, maybe, my text was misleading because I had suggested that the quiz was too easy. Anyway, it was not until comment no. 24 that anyone suggested the right name and, by their own admission, it was “just to be different.”

Ayub Khan of PakistanAyub Khan of Pakistan

The right answer, as many suggested towards the end (after my ‘hint‘) is Field Marshall Mohammad Ayub Khan. But even those who eventually guessed this thought it was from Gohar Ayub’s new book – Glimpses from the Corridors of Power – or from Ayub Khan’s recently released Personal Diaries. It is, in fact, from Ayub Khan’s famous memoirs and biography – Friends, Not Masters.

Interestingly, all sorts of names were thrown around. Many seem utterly convinced that it was Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Others were equally certain that it was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Yet others felt that it coudl have been anyone from Gen. Zia-ul-Haq to Gen. Yahya Khan to Nawaz Sahrif to Shaukat Aziz … and one seemed to even hint that it might be Benazir Bhutto!

It seems to me that this says something about Pakistan politics. All the ‘leaders‘ we have been ‘blessed’ with have been so similar that it is difficult to differentiate between them…. Sabb aik he chakki kay… Indeed, it is an important insight to consider that such a statement could have very plausibly come from so many different – and different types of – leaders!

First, a word about the context of the two paragraphs quoted in the original ATP Quiz. It is, as mentioned, from Ayub Khan’s biography, “Friends, Not Masters.” The context is his discussion about his own election as President and his discussion on why Fatima Jinnah was less ‘qualified’ than him. He certainly saw himself as ‘elected.’ Even as ‘democratic.’ In choosing the paragrpahs (page 218 in my dog-eared copy of the book; published 1967) I thought they were pertinent not only because his Ayub Khan’s rhetoric of how he had given ‘freedom’ to the press and how everyone was against him and how he was, in fact, so popular were all very much liek what we hear from gen. Musharraf today. The parallels seemed so striking that they were worth highlighting.

Now a word about the post itself. I had first planned to write this way back in September 2006 when Gen. Musharraf’s book, In the Line of Fire, had first come out (ATP post here). At that time, I dusted out my old copy (I had bought and read it in FSc, I think) of Friends Not Masters and decided to re-read it before I read Gen. Musharraf’s In the Line of Fire.

There was good reason to do so. Apart from all the similarities in their careers, their confidence in their own destiny, their belief that they were the best thing ever to happen to Pakistan, it was also that each of them had written the biography while still in office; each had really targetted tehir book as much towards USA as towards Pakistanis, and – interestingly – Ayub’s book was ghost-edited by Altaf Gauhar while Musharraf’s book was ghost edited by Humayun Gauhar (son of Altaf Gauhar).

It was a good decision to read the two books back to back. I would recommend others to do the same. There was much in Ayub Khan’s book that made me dislike him intensely. Especially his attitude towards (then) East Pakistanis. It only reconfirmed my belief that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto gets overly blamed for the 1971 debacle. Things had been set in stone well before either he or Yahya Khan came on the scene. The biggest blame goes to Ayub’s personal and viceral views on this and may even go back to much earlier leaders. But all that is for another time.

For now, let me leave you with a few more excerpts from Ayub Khan’s Friends Not Masters, including the ones in the original post (they are worth reading again, now that you know who they are from).

Ayub Khan of Pakistan… It is easy to talk about removing the inhibiting effects of history: it is a different thing dealing with them in practical life. How can you run a parliamentary democracy when you have big landlords in the country who can influence thousands of votes? How can you run a parliamentary democracy when you have pirs and faqirs who can influence the people indirectly? How can you have parliamentary democracy or stability when you have ten or fifteen or more political parties in the country without any programme whatsoever? How can you have parliamentary democracy when you have not even reached the level of universal primary education?

… My opponents sometimes say: ‘This man is a dictator; he has all the power in his hands.’ How? I do not know. After all, there always has to be someone finally in charge whatever the system, be it parliamentary or presidential, a monarchy or a dictatorship. There are many to assist but, in the ultimate analysis, one man has to take the final decision. This has been the case throughout history, and it is so even today all the world over. If the man is chosen by the people and if he is a good man, he has to be trusted and given full co-operation.

… To my knowledge there has never been so much freedom in this country as there is today. ‘On a number of occasions I have been accused, abused, and vilified, subjected to all kinds of rumours and slanders, all thoroughly unjustified and untrue, by some of the biggest blackguards in the country, and I have swallowed it. I have put up with it for the simple reason that I want to nurse and protect the system. I will not allow it to be demolished.

… In the light of past experience, I had provided certain built-in safeguards in the Constitution to enable the executive to withstand home pressures without in any way hindering the working of the legislature. The opposition, conveniently forgetting the mandate which the people had given me, have continued to say that this Constitution has been thrust down their throats. Now, they can go to the people’s representatives and ask them to change the Constitution: there is a clear provision in the Constitution that if there is anything which does not meet with the wishes of the people the members of the legislature can amend it. They have the powers even to impeach the President.

… I must refer to a phenomenon whcih has been the cause of considerable tension and misunderstanding between the two Provinces. This is the slogan of ‘disparity’, which has assumed considerable social significance and usually refers to an assumed lack of equality between the twp Provinces of the country [ATP: he means 'East' and 'West' Pakistan under One-Unit]. It is a much-abused word and covers a wide variety of complaints and grievances, very often of a personal character. If a candidate does not have the requisite qualifications and is, therefore, not selected for a job, he dubs it ‘disparity’. So does a shopkeeper who cannot collect enough capital to set up a jute mill. The jute mill-owner, too, claims himself to be a victim of disparity because he cannot expand into synthetics and chemicals. The politician has seized on this general impatience for a personal advancement and turned it into a popular political slogan. He bases his whole campaign against the central government and West Pakistan on disparity…. It is inconceivanle that any government should be able to compel people in one region to work at less than their capacity till others build up an equal capacity…. The problem of regional disparities in West Pakistan has been solved to a large extent by the integration of the former provinces into One Unit…. While the government recognizes the principle of parity, the people, too, have to discharge their responsibility. It is not enough to claim parity of resources and parity of opportunities; it is equally important to recognize parity of endeavour. Equality in progress can be guaranteed only by equality in effort. So the slogan of disparity should not be used as an excuse for personal inadequancies.

… In September 1964 the Combined Opposition Parties (COP) agreed to nominate Miss Fatima Jinnah as their candidate for the office of President. Now Miss Jinnah had nothing in common with teh various opposition parties yet she did not hesitate to come into the field, having obtained from them a unanimous pledge of support…. I do not know what considerations weighed with Miss Jinnah. She was leading a solitary life and had shown little interest in politics except for issuing periodical statements to the Press on days of national importance. Since the death of the Quaid-e-Azam she had maintained a consistent posture of opposition and criticism towards every government. Even during the days of Liaquat Ali Khan she was running an opposition of her own, never missing an opportunity of creating a sense of depression and distress among the people and undermining their confidence in the government of the day. In her seclusion and under the protection of the memory of the Quaid-e-Azam, she set herself up as an arbiter and a mentor. When Martial Law was promulgated she welcomed the change but soon after reverted to her customary role. One one occasion, I wrote to her that she might acquaint herself with the full facts of government policies before pronouncing judgement on them. I think she never forgave me for offering this advice.

These are but a few segments from the last chapters of the book. There is much more there that is worth reading. Not necessarily because it is good (much is not), nor because it is correct (even more is not), but because it is a part of our history. Amongst the many many tragedies of Pakistan is that we have converted not only our politics but our history into a string of slogans. What goes for analysis is mere slogans and naara baazi. I am always amazed at just how few of even our analysts ever quote from book. Merely looking at the title of a book seems enough for most people to convince themselves that they already know what must be inside the book!

34 Comments on “ATP Quiz: Echoes of Ayub Khan Linger in Pakistan”

  1. Owais Mughal says:
    August 7th, 2007 9:37 pm

    ‘Friends not Masters’ was one of me earliest political books. I got it issued from the library of Engineering University in my first year. Then I liked it so much that i wanted to photo copy a few selected pages. I took it to the Engineering Univ. xerox corner and the machine operator looked at me as if I was crazy :) I guess he had never expected engineering student to xerox anything but notes, assignments or technical books.

    By the way Adil, eventhough I’ve read ‘Friends not Masters’ atleast 3 times, I also thought the answer to your quiz was Musharraf. And this also goes to point out to our readership that how much we protect our quiz answers against leakages :) I didn’t know the answer until this afternoon

  2. faraz says:
    August 7th, 2007 11:19 pm

    I dont have read any of the book by any pakistani leaders and have no plan to read books by such useless peoples but I have one question.

    Can by reading Mush book, it can be implied that Msuharaf is going on Ayub footsteps. I mean he is also polarizing the nation. Is he mentioned something similar in his book “In line of fire”?

  3. Hossp says:
    August 8th, 2007 1:43 am

    I read the book a long time ago. His book gave me a good understanding of the constitutional crises that Pakistan faced from the very beginning. Whenever someone asks me about Pakistan

  4. Gumnam says:
    August 8th, 2007 3:42 am

    In the photograph on the first page, is it Ayoub, Bhutto, QudratUllah Shahab and Yahya Khan sitting next ot each other? Wondering why Owais or Adil never posted an article on QudratUllah Shahab?

    August 8th, 2007 3:57 am

    Adil Bhai,

    I have so far not had the displeasure to read Gen oh so sorry Field Marshall Ayub’s book but I did undergo the torture of reading Mr Mush’s in the line of fire. One question can anyone tell me why our own awaami man of the street Mr Mush has chose to name his book ‘Sabse Pehle Pakistan’ or Pakistan First and called In the Line of Fire elsewhere. Is this more evidence of him cowing to his courtiers in the West for to use Ayub’s words they are certainly his friends if not masters!

    The leaders we have had since the Quaid and Shaheed-e-Millat with the exception of ZAB (and he made mistakes too) have been awful. This luckless nation has had to endure infamy after infamy, but sixty years on we have ushered in a new dawn with the lawyers movement, we now need a government of national unity of all the talents to take us forward.

    Much will depend on the PPP and the leading lawyers so hear my plea Aitzaz bhai here www. challenge BB for the PPP leadership or leave the party as we need principled leaders to rid us of this vile military regime. See how you can help at



    August 8th, 2007 3:59 am

    Sorry correct link is here

  7. Zak says:
    August 8th, 2007 7:34 am

    A few years back, 2002 i think..newsline or the herald published an article on Ayub Khan, Yahya, Zias and Musharrafs first speeches to the nation after their coups.

    The common strands in all of them were:

    1) Pakistan is at rock bottom
    2) Corrupt people everywhere
    3) The Army had no choice but to intervene because of corrupt politicians
    4) Martial law is only temporary, the Army is not interested in power.

    History does repeat itself quickly in Pakistan, it just gets more farcical each time. Hence while Mush is more like Ayub Khan, the polarization and disarray in Pakistan is more obvious much earlier.

  8. Shafique says:
    August 8th, 2007 8:07 am
  9. Daktar says:
    August 8th, 2007 8:08 am

    I find the great pride that some commenters are showing in not reading and not wanting to read books to be quite interesting and disturbing. Amazing how people are so comfortable on having opinions on things they refuse to read about!

  10. August 8th, 2007 8:19 am

    We’re reviewing Ayub Khan’s legacy on as we speak. For readers interested in more detailed treatment of this issue, please visit Last week, we looked at his Martial Law “Revolution”. This week, we’re looking at Ayub’s Presidential “Democracy” and his economic and foreign policy achievements (or failures). Next week is 1965 War which really brought down Ayub’s Government and the week after that we’ll look at his fall from grace.

    Ayub Khan’s rule, while he seemed revolutionary initially, is I think one of the least understood period of Pakistan’s history. Yes, development did happen, on the face of it, but it also sowed the seeds for many of ills that we face today including, some argue, the economic disparities between East and West that contributed to the ultimate break-up of Pakistan.

    Visit Understanding Pakistan and find out how…

  11. Zak says:
    August 8th, 2007 8:46 am

    Ayub Khan was a reformer not a revolutionary. yes there was some improvements in administration because of the immediate political stability he brought in and some of his early appointments were commendable. general Azam khans work in east pakistan was so good that he became a local celebrity.

    However his economic progress, was at the expense of class and ethnic tensions. His discrimination against East Pakistanis and his marginalisation of people like Suhrwardy and electoral rigging against Fatima Jinnah led bengalis to believe that working within the system was pointless.

    More importantly, history shows us his reliance on the US proved detrimental. All Pakistan got was Peshawar being encircled by the Soviet premier as included in first strike targets in event of a nuclear war, a US embargo from 1965 onwards and the US secret rearming of India in the sino-Indian war.

  12. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    August 8th, 2007 12:12 pm

    He was also an Army man

  13. bhindigosht says:
    August 8th, 2007 1:00 pm

    Breaking News:

    ISLAMABAD: A high-level meeting presided over by President General Pervez Musharraf to review current political situation and various options regarding changes in the political set up is underway here, the reliable sources said.

    The declaration of emergency in the country is likely in the meeting, the well-placed sources told Geon News on Wednesday.”

  14. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    August 8th, 2007 2:20 pm

    its time to windup all blogs and other related things which could harm the next martial law administrator.

  15. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    August 8th, 2007 2:21 pm

    The dictator has given a beautiful gift on 60th anniversary of Pakistan

  16. Owais Mughal says:
    August 8th, 2007 2:22 pm

    Dear Gumnam. thx for providing the idea on writing about Qudratullah Shahab. It takes time to encompass and write about everybody worth writing. Yes we should do a post on QU Shahab.

    QU Shahab is indeed a captivating read. Once you pick up his book it is hard to put down, but at personal level I am not sure how to separate his fiction from reality. He has written history with fiction here and there. They intermingle so beautifully that they make a wonderful reading piece but very hard for me to separate truth and fiction in his writings.

  17. Owais Mughal says:
    August 8th, 2007 2:25 pm

    In the last days of Ayub, one of the most famous slogan all around Pakistan was ‘Ayub kutta.. haaye haaye’. On his last day , visibly frail and weak as he was leaving the office, he saw a protesting student on the street. He pulled down his car window and said: “beta! Ayub kutta ab booRha ho gaya hai”

  18. Owais Mughal says:
    August 8th, 2007 2:33 pm

    Ayub, also sowed the seeds of discontent in southern Pakistan by moving the capital away to near his hometown. Whether it was a right decision or wrong is debatable. I don’t know but it indeed caused a sense of alienation. I grew up seeing it, hearing it and feeling it.

    Also Karachi and Dhaka were the only two cities that went to Fatima Jinnah in elections which saw Ayub emerging victorious. Everyone knows how Ayub cronies celebrated in Karachi by son of Ayub Khan and also the former Speaker National Assembly Gohar Ayub leading the celebratory procession that killed 6 people in Liaquatabad. Commissioner Karachi, Mr Roedad Khan (who later became right-hand-guy of Ghulam Ishaq Khan) was found sleeping in his home in the afternoon while a procession under Ayub’s son was passing through the city celebrating against Fatima Jinnah and locals.

  19. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    August 8th, 2007 3:20 pm

    Moving capital to Rawalpindi and then to Islamabad definitely alienated Karachites, especially those who had earlier migrated to the port city with the hope of taking government jobs. However the move had more to do with bringing civil administration and military headquarter under one proverbial roof than with the ‘hometown’ of Ayub Khan. A second capital was built in then East Pakistan as well. With the benefit of hind sight, it was not a bad move for Pakistan after all. Karachi has a greater potential as a commercial center than as a capital and therefore did not suffer much. The country got a modern city worth living. It is a win win situation. Karachi and Dhaka going for Miss Jinnah are therefore understandable.

  20. asa says:
    August 8th, 2007 3:26 pm

    Musharraf like all other dictators is a dictator whose destination is a takhta or we will soon hear from some one that general sahab ka tayyara hawa mein pat giya. The only thing he can do is to stick with his khaal to prolong his life. He had many opportunities to leave gracefully but now he has left with no choice. Lets hope that he is now made such an example after which no body dares to derail democratic process.

  21. faraz says:
    August 8th, 2007 3:49 pm

    PMA i agree that moving capital was not that bad idea. Like in USA financial capital is NY while federal capital is DC.

    But moving capital close to his hometown benifited his family and relatives in term of cost of rising real state prices in generations to come. So it was also an example of “nepotism”. Ayub khan did started politics of ethinicity ( victory parade by his son as an example.) .

  22. MQ says:
    August 8th, 2007 4:56 pm

    Owais: The bearded guy in the picture is not Q Shahab. He is probably a minister from East Pakistan. Some of the other people in the picture are: To Ayub Khan’s left is Aziz Ahmad who was later Bhutto’s foreiegn minister. To his right are General Azam Khan and General Burki. Of course, Bhutto is recognizable.

    Adil: I see that you have put your well preserved copy of Friends, Not Masters on sale. I wonder if you can reproduce here the Punjabi couplet that Ayub Khan quotes either in the introduction or in the first few pages, that is, if you have not shipped your copy already.

  23. Owais Mughal says:
    August 8th, 2007 5:19 pm

    I know the bearded old guy was not Qudratullah shahab :) He used to be quiet youthful in Ayub days. I was just replying to a reader that yes we should do a post on Qudratullah Shahab too.

  24. August 8th, 2007 11:11 pm

    For MQ. No, I have not put my trusted and dogeared copy of Friends Not Masters up for sale. Its aged pages have served me well and helped me understand the ups and downs of the roller-coaster that is our history. I suspect that there are still more twists and turns to come that will send me rushing back to those pages to infer parallels that I had missed.

    Anyhow, I assume you mean the misra mentioned on page 5 when he is discussing his fascination with Sikhs – whose rituals and songs he found absorbing – and discussing the importance of never “judging a man by his locality, colour, or vintage.” It is:

    sau rang tamashay takday akhian naiN rajiaan

    He himself translates this as: “life is a great spectacle of colours; one sees so much of it and one has an insatiable desire for more.”

  25. MQ says:
    August 8th, 2007 11:49 pm


    Thanks for reproducing that quote from the book. Isn’t that an appropriate commentary on Ayub Khan then and Musharraf today?

  26. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    August 9th, 2007 9:07 am

    faraz: Nepotism is part of our culture and socio-political system. That is how we get blessed with generations of inept functionaries; may that be governmental or non-governmental service. In Pakistan we have a word for it. It is called ‘safarash’. And about ‘politics of ethnicity’. Ayub did not start it. It was already there. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was known to favor a certain ethnic group over all others. Some saw that as nepotism too. Almost every head of government in the past sixty years could be accused of nepotism and favoritism. That is simply us.

  27. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    August 9th, 2007 9:23 am

    MQ: I bought my copy of ‘Friends Not Masters’ four decades ago and brought it with me to the USA. It is on my desk as we speak. I do not intend to wrap fish or ‘paan’ with its pages, neither it is on sale as a second hand book. Even if one disagrees with the contents of it, I agree with Adil that it is a good source of reference. History will draw many parallels between Ayub and Musharraf. I hope the latter has wisdom to step aside gracefully and allow peaceful transition to civilian rule. Nation could hardly afford another ’1969′.

  28. Adnan Ahmad says:
    August 9th, 2007 9:29 am

    PMA, Perhaps I am not as good a student of history as you but this is the first time I ever heard anything negative about Liaqat Ali Khan, a man better known for his principals. Altaf and Co’s conspiracy theories about his murder then may carry some weight.

  29. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    October 2nd, 2007 10:19 am

    Many of us might have seen Field Marshall, I remember him very well when he took power from Iskandar Mirza.

    F. M. Ayub was the most handsome, quiet, reserved and dignified, respectable of Sandhurstist conduct dictator, all the others uptill now are not even his cheville .

    When the ruling class elitist colonial zurriat (FM) realized that it was finished , he anounced like a Mard da putar, Yes I will not stand for election and I am resigning. Have you got a mard like him now anywhere ?? Its a misfortune that he was forced to give power to a drunkard mujraybaz “next in line prey to the cunning Bhutto son of traitor Diwan who invited Indian Army to occupy Junahgarh and Manawadar.

    We were educated in a politics where no one was supposed to be called a traitor. But this moral disappeared with the wind, now we have a variety of traitors.

  30. Watan Aziz says:
    November 28th, 2007 3:38 am

    Ayub, Zulifkar Ali, Zia and now Musharraf have few thread in common.

    1. Their best years were the first 3 in power. That is when they did the most and created (or tried to) better than what they started with. (I am not entirely convinced about Zia, but will give him benefit of the doubt.)
    2. They all believed that the country will not run without them.
    3. They all made sure no clear political successor (rival) emerges. Though Ayub had Yahya in mind, just not that soon and in that manner: ‘Sir, it is my turn now.’
    4. They all spoke in terms of ‘I’ but not us or we. (Someone else mentioned this elsewhere on ATP.)
    5. They all exercised full command over all resources and moved people and materials as if Pakistan is their property.
    6. They all were good men in their hearts and really truly believed they are doing the nation good. (And arguably, they did many things good.)
    7. They were all helped out. Some more reluctantly.
    8. They all assumed they were somewhere else and in another era. Ayub thought himself as de Gaulle, ZAB as the inheritor of Tito + Nehru of non aligned movement, Zia as Amir-ul-Momineen, and Musharraf as Ataturk. Pakistan was a useful idea for their dreams.
    9. They all were ultimately undone due to their own arrogance and poor advice of sycophants they themselves surrounded with.
    10. They all sidelined the true believers who brought them into power.
    11. They were all creative thinkers and did things outside the box (Zia being exception, really.)

    While I am not high on anyone of them, I am not low on any either. They did their part and for better or worse, the nation has been served better. In the end, Pakistan has moved forward. Perhaps, not what we would like it to be, perhaps not at a pace we can expect. But Pakistan is better today for each one of them (Again, I will never be too sure of my opinions of Zia).

    For rankings of Pakistani leaders, I put
    Ayub, ZAB, Musharraf
    Zia, Liquat Ali
    and the rest of the meadicore gang follows.
    and Yahya (poor guy, honest to core (perhaps the most honest after Jinnah), just did not get it and wrong place and wrong time.)

    And yes, Friends Not Masters is a worthy read.

    Pakistan Zindabad
    Pakistan Pa’indabad

  31. jalal says:
    April 4th, 2008 12:39 am

    I think leaving aside any prejudices of being a dictator ( as only the politicians label him for their own self gains), Ayub’s era was really an era of real development – rather he set the course of development in Pakistan for years to come. All major /mega projects were undertaken by him and setting of textile industry and the steel mills in Pakistan.
    He was a man of vision when he chose to build Islamabad as capital of Pakistan despite severe resistance form all and sundry. Perhaps he is the only leader (after Quaid-e-Azam) who still resides in the hearts of most Pakistanis – his painting behind trucks with “teray janay kay baad teri yaad ayee” vindicates it.

  32. Hur irfan nizamani says:
    May 7th, 2008 10:53 am

    Present situation leads 2 marshal law.

  33. Daniyal Nagi says:
    October 11th, 2008 1:22 pm

    I have recently gone through the news books out on FM Ayub Khan icluding his diaries.There are 2 concluions.
    1.He was the one who started this mess by over running democracy and starting the tradition of dictatorship.
    2.If you compare him with our current leaders I find him more sincere and will place him much higher then them.
    General Mushraf is the worst of them all,who led his own country to destruction in every way and looted everything with Mr.Shaukat Aziz(I think he should be publically tried for treason damn corrupy banker)

  34. Watan Aziz says:
    August 7th, 2010 5:56 am

    Amongst the many many tragedies of Pakistan is that we have converted not only our politics but our history into a string of slogans. What goes for analysis is mere slogans and naara baazi.

    Worth repeating.

    And we have now added a new tradition of politically correct chest thumping with ample dumpings on Pakistan to burnish our own credentials.

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