1915-2006: Ghulam Ishaq Khan Dead

Posted on October 27, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People
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Adil Najam

Just got an email from reader Adnan Ahmad (thanks) informing me that former President of Pakistan and veteran civil servant Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK), died today after a bout of pneumonia. (Historic pictures of GIK’s career in Pakistan politics, here).
According to an AP Report:

Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Pakistan’s president from 1988 to 1993, died Friday following a bout of pneumonia, his son-in-law said. Khan was 91. Khan’s son-in-law, Arfan Ullah Murwat, said the former Pakistan president, who won power following the 1988 death of military dictator Gen. Zia-ul Haq in a mysterious plane crash, had been ill for the past three months.

Khan died in the northern city of Peshawar, where he spent most of his life, Murwat said. His funeral will be held later Friday in Peshawar. “He was suffering form pneumonia, and it was the cause of his death,” Murwat told The Associated Press in Peshawar.

Khan, a career bureaucrat, was a close ally of Haq and held the post of chairman of Pakistan’s Senate when Haq was killed in a plane crash in eastern Pakistan along with then U.S. Ambassador Arnold L. Raphel and several top Pakistani generals. Regarded as a strong-willed figure, Khan worked alongside former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif but dismissed the governments led by both in 1990 and 1993 respectively on charges of corruption and mismanagement. “He (Khan) was a man of integrity,” said another son-in-law, Anwar Saifullah. “He was an honest person, and he never gave any undue favor to any one.”

The row between Khan and Sharif continued following a subsequent Supreme Court decision that reinstated Sharif’s government. Eventually, Pakistan’s powerful military intervened in the conflict and forced Kahn to reign. Khan, an ethnic-Pashtun born in northwestern Pakistan’s Bannu district, is survived by his wife, four daughters and one son. – AP

I met him first when he was the Minister of Finance and then Chairman of Gen. Zia’s Senate and later a few times during his presidency. I was always amazed at his photographic memory and immense knowledge of issues. However, his was a tragic career of a brilliant civil servant and remarkably bright technocrat who lost much of the good will he had acccumulated by being thrust into the presidency. His political legacy was scared, at best. First credited with ensuring elections after Zia’s death and then being part of two successive dismissals of elected governments. However, he was till the end known for his honesty and his technical brilliance. I have always wondered how he saw his own legacy.
The News has more details on him:

Ghulam Ishaq Khan was born on January 20, 1915, in Ismail Khel Bannu District, N.W.F.P. He did his graduation in Chemistry and Botany and joined NWFP Civil Service in 1940. After the unification of West Pakistan into One Unit in 1955, Ishaq Khan was appointed Provincial Secretary of West Pakistan for Irrigation Development. In this capacity he represented the Provincial Government in the Federal Planning Commission. In 1958, he became Member WAPDA. In 1966, he was appointed Federal Finance Secretary and promoted to Secretary General Defense during Bhutto’s tenure. General Zia appointed him Advisor on Finance and later on as Federal Finance Minister. Ishaq Khan represented his country in various international conferences, which include U. N. Conferences on Finance, IMF, OIC and Asian Development Bank.

In February 1985, Ishaq Khan was elected as Chairman of the Senate. After the death of General Zia, Ishaq Khan took over as acting President of the country on August 17, 1988. He was elected President on December 13, 1988, as the consensus candidate of PPP and IJI. During his tenure, Ishaq Khan dismissed the Governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif using discretionary powers given to the President under the controversial Eighth Constitutional Amendment.

Khan reportedly vetoed the appointment of former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief Hamid Gul as Army Chief, appointing the moderately reformist general Asif Nawaz Khan Janjua instead. Khan’s presidency also saw the resignation of General Rahimuddin Khan from the post of Governor of Sindh, due to differences between the two after Khan started restricting Rahimuddin’s vast amount of legislative power.

Khan’s presidency was also marked by his use of Eighth Amendment reserve powers to check the government. While the Prime Minister is the Head of Government, Khan was able to dismiss the governments of both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif on charges of corruption, mismanagement, and nepotism, thereby triggering new elections, which the incumbent parties lost. The second dismissal of government exacerbated institutional and political opposition to Khan, leading to his resignation in 1993, and later to a constitutional amendment that reduced the Presidency to a figurehead. Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences was set by him and it is located in Topi, North-West Frontier Province.

32 responses to “1915-2006: Ghulam Ishaq Khan Dead”

  1. raja says:


  2. Ghulam Ishaq Khan – The comments from OWAIS MUGHUL dated Oct 31st at 1.16 and later on same date at 3.33 apparantly indicative of self contradiction.

  3. Having read Adnan – Owais tete-e-tete on GIK all I will do at the momnt is to recite Surae Fateha for the departed soul. May his soul rest in peace.

  4. The comments and counter are getting too far. Lets say a few Good words also for the departed soul. All of us know that he as Finance Minister and having full control on Finances during Zias tenure, and later as President didnot hesistate in providing support for the Nuclear Programme which Bhutto had started.

  5. Owais Mughal says:

    Adnan. baat to tumhari bhi sahih hai :) Just today the following news appears on Dawn’s front page, where Wapda is blamed for 1992 flash flood. Wapda engineers were working on couple of Mangla turbines downstream and therefore water flow was stopped. Rain was happening in catchment areas but Wapda ignored the fact and didn’t open the spillway gates until water level reached too high. many people lost lives as a result of flash flood. It is off topic but I still want to share the following news as last few messages were about Wapda. Some indirect connection with GIK can be made b/c he was the President when 1992 floods happened and he was also chairman Wapda in one of his past lives.


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