Muhammed Akbar Khan

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For other people named Akbar Khan, see Akbar Khan (disambiguation).
Muhammad Akbar Khan
Born Chakwal, Punjab, British India
Died Karachi, Pakistan
Allegiance British Raj Red Ensign.svg British Indian Empire
Service/branch British Raj British Indian Army
PakistanPakistan Army (PA-1)
Years of service 1914–1949
Rank General
Unit British Indian Army
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Pakistan Army
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
Awards Order of the British Empire

Muhammed Akbar Khan (Arabic: محمد اکبر خان‎), MBE served as a British Indian recruit in the First World War and an officer in Second World War. He was the first Muslim from South Asia to become a general in the Indian Army.[citation needed] At the time of the independence of Pakistan, he was the most senior Muslim General. He also served as the first ADC of the Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammed Ali Jinnah.

Early career[edit]

Muhammed Akbar Khan was born on 19 April 1897 to a Minhas Rajput family. He enlisted in the Indian Army & the 12th Cavalry 1 May 1914. He was made a Viceroy's Commissioned Officer (VCO) in the rank of Jemedar 1 July 1915.[1] The 12th Cavalry was mobilized for field service in November 1915 and he served in Mesopotamia from 28 November 1915 to 13 September 1917.[2]

He attended the Temporary School for Indian Cadets formed at Daly College, Indore.

He was granted a temporary commission in the Indian Army as a Second Lieutenant 1 December 1919. He was attached to 40th Cavalry Regiment 6 January 1920 until 6 January 1921, when, now a Lieutenant as of 1 December 1920, he was attached to the 12th Cavalry. On 28 August 1921, the 12th Cavalry amalgamated with the 11th K. E. O. Cavalry to form the 11/12th Cavalry, which was renamed the 5th King Edward's Own Probyn's Horse in July 1922.[3]

In the London Gazette of 8 August 1922 he was admitted to permanent commission in the Indian Army as Second Lieutenant with effect from 17 July 20. He was also permanently appointed to the 5th King Edward's Own Probyn's Horse from being attached to the regiment.

He was promoted Captain 17 July 1927 and from late 1927 to late 1931 he held the appointment of Quarter Master in the regiment.[4]

In the London Gazette of 3 June 1930 he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

From 1 May 1933 he was posted away from the regiment as Assistant Recruiting Officer, Lahore, a post he held until 30 April 1934.[5]

On 11 May 1934 he transferred to the 1st battalion, 14th Punjab Regiment, who he served with on the Mohamand campaign on the North West Frontier in 1935. Whilst serving with them he later became attached to the Royal Indian Army Service Corps, to which he transferred on 5 February 1936.[6]

With the R.I.A.S.C he saw service on the North West Frontier during 1936-37 with the 6th District Supply Company in Waziristan and was Mentioned in Despatches in the London Gazette of 18 February 1938.

He was promoted Major 17 July 1938.[7]

At the outbreak of World War Two he was commanding the 41st Animal Transport Company.[8]

He was promoted temporary Lieutenant-Colonel 31 October 1942, serving with the R.I.A.S.C.

He was appointed Acting Colonel 27 July 1945 then Temporary Colonel 26 January 1946.

Promoted Lieutenant Colonel 17 July 1946.

At some point he was appointed acting Brigadier, then in August 1947, a few days before Independence he was promoted Major-General.

On the creation of Pakistan he was appointed to command Sind Area, later renamed (1 January 1948) 8th Division on 15 August 1947.[9]

Pakistan's first general[edit]

After Independence, Muhammed Akbar Khan was allotted the number one by the Pakistan Army and hence he is regarded as the senior-most officer of the Pakistan Army. Muhammed Akbar Khan wrote many books on military strategy and Art of War by pen name of Rangroot. Muhammed Akbar Khan also has the honour of being the first ADC to Muhammed Ali Jinnah.

As the senior-most General of the Pakistan Army, Muhammed Akbar Khan was destined to become the first Commander in Chief of the Pakistan Army. However, he declined the post.[citation needed]

In his book Pakistan's Drift into Extremism, Hassan Abbas writes: "In the entire history of Pakistan army, perhaps there has been only one incident in which a general repeated what George Washington had so willingly done for his nation some 215 years back. Toward the end of 1949, as General Gracey’s term of office neared its end, he tapped Major General Akbar Khan, the senior-most Pakistani officer, to take over. General Khan refused the office on the grounds that the job was beyond his competence - an admission never made by any Pakistani army officer again, though many were eminently qualified to make it."[citation needed]

His brother General Iftikhar Khan was tapped to become the C-in-C of the Pakistan Army, but he died in an aircrash, making way for Field Marshal Ayub Khan to become the C-in-C..[citation needed]

General Akbar Khan was the eldest of amongst his 14 siblings; His brothers were General Iftikhar Khan (PA-2), General Anwar Khan (PA-48), Brig Muhammad Zafar Khan, Brig Afzal, Brig Yousaf.


  • Pakistan's Drift into Extremism, Hassan Abbas, 2005
  • Pakistani Generals, A. K Anwar, 1992
  • Meri Akhri Maanzil - Akbar Khan, a biography, Khalid Akbar, 2006. Khalid Akbar is his son.
  • Nationalisation of the Indian Army (1885–1947),Lt.Col.Gautam Sharma
  • Memoirs Of Maj Gen A A Rudra, Maj Gen D K Palit
  1. ^ January 1919 Indian Army List
  2. ^ January 1939 Indian Army List Supplement
  3. ^ Indian Army List, various dates
  4. ^ Indian Army List, various dates
  5. ^ January 1939 Indian Army List Supplement
  6. ^ January 1939 Indian Army List Supplement
  7. ^ January 1939 Indian Army List
  8. ^ October 1939 Indian Army List
  9. ^ The Pakistan Army 1947-49 by Major-General Shaukat Riza