Abdur Rahim Khan

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Air Marshal

Abdur Rahim Khan
عبدالرحیم خان
A.Rahim Khan.jpg
Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Air Force
In office
1 September 1969 – 2 March 1972
PresidentYahya Khan
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Vice PresidentNurul Amin
Preceded byNur Khan
Succeeded byZafar Chaudhry
(As Chief of Air Staff)
Ambassador of Pakistan to Spain
In office
11 May 1972 – 13 April 1977
Personal details
Abdur Rahim Khan

(1925-10-25)October 25, 1925
DiedFebruary 28, 1990(1990-02-28) (aged 64)
Potomac, Maryland, United States
CitizenshipBritish Subject (1925–1947)
Pakistan (1947–1990)
Civilian awardsYellow Crescent, Symbol of Islam.png Hilal-i-Quaid-e-Azam
Order of Pakistan.pngSitara-e-Pakistan
Military service
Nickname(s)A.R. Khan
Branch/service Indian Air Force (1944–1947)
 Pakistan Air Force (1947–1972)
Years of service1942–72
RankAM Pakistan Air Force.pngUS-O9 insignia.svg Air Marshal
UnitNo. 7 Squadron Bandits
CommandsDeputy Commander-in-Chief (Air Operations), AHQ
AOC PAF Base Masrur
PAF Staff College
Battles/warsIndo-Pakistani War of 1965

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

Military awardsHilal-Jurat Ribbon.gifHilal-i-Jurat
Star of Good Conduct Sitara-e-Basalat.pngSitara-e-Basalat

Air Marshal Abdur Rahim Khan, (Urdu: عبدالرحیم خان ‎; October 25, 1925 – February 28, 1990) HJ, S.Pk, SBt, was a three-star air officer who served as the last Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Air Force under President Yahya Khan, from 1969 until 1972.

In 1972, Air-Marshal Abdur Rahim Khan along with the Pakistan Army's Commander-in-Chief Lieutenant-General Gul Hassan dismissed from his military service over the allegations on obstructing the judicial inquiries of War Enquiry Commission on the succession of East Pakistan. Later he joined the Foreign Service and served as Pakistan Ambassador to Spain till 13 April 1977, when along with General Gul Hassan Khan who was then the Pakistan Ambassador to Greece, resigned as a protest against the rigging of the general elections held in 1977


Family background[edit]

Abdur Rahim Khan was born in Rawalpindi, Punjab in India on 25 July 1925.[1] He hailed from a Punjabi family.:56–57[2]

Career in the military[edit]

World War II and Pakistan[edit]

He joined the Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) and was commissioned as Flying officer in 1943.[1] He participated in the RIAF's bombing missions against Japan in the Burma theater in World War II.[1]

After the independence of Pakistan as a result of partition of India on 14 August 1947, he opted for Pakistan and joined the newly established Pakistan Air Force (PAF) while taking up the instructor position in the Air Force Academy.[1] In 1950s, he was sent to United Kingdom where he attended the Imperial Defense College where he graduated with a staff course degree.[1] He later went to the United States to attend the staff college and underwent to complete a pilot's training on the jet aircraft.[1]

In 1952, he became the first Pakistani pilot (and probably the first Asian pilot) to break the sound barrier.[1] Upon returning to Pakistan, he was given the command of No. 11 Squadron (Arrows), the only squadron equipped with jet fighters.[3] He also commanded the No. 9 Squadron (Griffins).[3]

His command assignment included his role as commandant of the Air War College and AOC of Masroor Air Force Base in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.[3]

In 1965, Air Cdre Khan was appointed as Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Air Operations and participated in detailing the air operations during in the second war with India.[1]

Air Commander-in-Chief[edit]

On 1 September 1, 1969, Air Commodore Khan was promoted to three-star rank, Air Marshal, and was appointed Commander in Chief of the Pakistan Air Force, serving under President Yahya Khan.[3] During this time, he paid a visit to China to strengthened military relations between two nations.[4]

In 1971, Air Marshal Khan led the PAF during the third war with India. He issued directives banning the Bengali pilots flying for the bombing missions after a one pilot attempted to defect to India, but the attempt was made unsuccessful by the second pilot.[1]

Air Marshal Khan played a critical and pivotal role in turning over President Yahya Khan's administration and helped Zulfikar Ali Bhutto assuming the presidency on 20 December 1971.[1] Air Marshal Khan became known as the strongest military influence in the country.[1]

Ambassador of Pakistan to Spain[edit]

On 11 March 1972, Air Marshal Abdur Rahim Khan was appointed designate Pakistan Ambassador to Spain.:144[5] He presented his diplomatic credentials to Juan Carlos I in Barcelona. On 13 April 1977, he resigned his post in protest against allegations of riggings during the general elections held in 1977.:536[6] He immediately appealed and called for the Pakistani military to forcefully removed Prime Minister Bhutto.:536[6]

Death, personal life, and public image[edit]

After the military takeover of civilian government by General Zia-ul-Haq, the Chief of Army Staff, Abdul Rahim left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and moved to United States.[3] He bought an estate in Potomac, Maryland in the United States, and lived until his death due to Kidney failure on 28 February 1990.[3]

Abdul Rahim Khan was married to Princess Mehrunissa Khan,[7] the only child of the beloved but unofficial third queen of the Nawab of Rampur. They got married in London when Rahim Khan was serving as a Group-Captain (Col.) in the Air Force.[8]

Abdul Rahim Khan was described as "soft‐spoken" and was fond of golf, polo, classical Indian music; and he avoided making slighting remarks about his Indian adversaries.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Browne, Malcolm W. Browne (29 December 1971). "Man in the News". The New York Times. Islamabad, NY Times Bureau: The New York Times, Browne. The New York Times. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  2. ^ Azam, Ikram (1992). From Pakitan [sic] to Pakistan: From Jinnah's Pakistan to Today's Pakistan (1st ed.). Karachi, Sindh, Pk: National Book Foundation. p. 288.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Abdur Rahim Khan | Pride of Pakistan | Commemorations | PrideOfPakistan.com". prideofpakistan.com. Pride. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  5. ^ Rizvi, H. (2000). "Civilian Interlude" (googlebooks). Military, State and Society in Pakistan. U.S.: Springer. p. 300. ISBN 9780230599048. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b Majumdar, R. (1998). Pakistan: Jinnah to the present day (2 ed.). Lahore, Pakistan: Anmol Publications. ISBN 9788174888648. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  7. ^ Mehrunissa Khan. An extraordinary life: Princess Mehrunissa of Rampur, (Blue Leaf, 2006)
  8. ^ Vatsala Kaul. "The princess diaries : Mehrunissa of Rampur" Harmony Magazine, October 2004

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Nur Khan
Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Air Force
1969 – 1972
Succeeded by
Zafar Chaudhry