|We’ve Learnt Nothing from History
Pakistan: Politics and Military Power
M. Asghar Khan
ISBN 984 05 1766 X 2006 324pp 215x136mm HB Tk.500.00 US$27.00
In this book, Air Marshal (Retired) M. Asghar Khan presents an insider’s view of Pakistan’s struggle for democracy from the 1960s to the present.
The book expounds on the early entry of Pakistan’s armed forces into the country’s politics and the author’s opposition to military rule that began in 1968 with the movement for the restoration of democracy. This movement resulted in the ouster of President Muhammad Ayub Khan in 1969 after eleven years of military rule.
The author describes his continued opposition to autocratic and dictatorial rule, especially General Yahya Khan’s policy of brutal suppression through military action in East Pakistan. He also recounts his strong criticism of the General’s refusal to hand over power to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Awami League, winners of the first-ever free and fair general elections held in Pakistan.
The author recalls Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s rise to political power during the 1970s, and General Ziaul Haq’s dogmatic and iron-fisted military rule during the 1980s, and elaborates on some pertinent features of Pakistan’s domestic and international situation.
The book concludes with the author’s assessment of General Pervez Musharraf’s five years in power consequent upon the re-entry of the armed forces in the country’s politics in 1999, after a brief and tumultuous interlude with democracy.
M. Asghar Khan was born in Jammu, Kashmir in 1921, and was educated at the Prince of Wales’s Royal Indian Military College Dehra Dun. He joined the Indian Military in 1939 and was commissioned in the ‘Royal Deccan Horse’ in 1940.
On Partition he was posted as Commandant of the RPAF Flying Training School, now the PAF College, Risalpur. He commanded the Pakistan Air Force from 1957-1965 and was its first Pakistani Commander-in-Chief and was President of PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) from 1965 to 1968.
The author entered the political arena in 1968, and led a movement for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. He renounced the awards of Hilal-i-Pakistan and Hilal-i-Quaid-i-Azam in January 1969 as a mark of protest against the government’s policy of suppression.
M. Asghar Khan formed his own political party, the Tehrik-i-Istaqlal, in 1972. He was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan in the General Elections held in 1977. He stepped down as President of Tehrik-i-Istaqlal in December 1995.
M. Asghar Khan is the author of a number of books, Pakistan at the Cross Roads, Generals in Politics, and Islam, Politics and the StateThe Pakistan Experience.