Jehangir Karamat

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Jehangir Karamat
جہانگیر کرامت
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
In office
9 November 1997 – 7 October 1998
Preceded by ACM Farooq Feroze Khan
Succeeded by Gen Pervez Musharraf
Chief of Army Staff
In office
12 January 1996 – 6 October 1998
Preceded by Gen Abdul Waheed Kakar
Succeeded by Gen Pervez Musharraf
Pakistan Ambassador to the United States
In office
17 November 2004 – 3 June 2006
President Gen Pervez Musharraf
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
Preceded by General Jehangir Qazi
Succeeded by Maj. Gen. Mahmud Ali Durrani
Personal details
Born (1941-02-20) 20 February 1941 (age 76)
Karachi, Sind, British India (now Karachi, Pakistan)
Citizenship  Pakistan
Nationality Pakistan
Alma mater Pakistan Military Academy
Command and Staff College
Command and General Staff College
National Defence University
Awards Order of Excellence Nishan-e-Imtiaz.png Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Military)
Star of Good Conduct Sitara-e-Basalat.pngSitara-e-Basalat
US Legion of Merit Chief Commander ribbon.pngLegion of Merit
Institutions National Defence University (NDU)
Armed Forces War College (afwc)
Field(s) Political science
Notable students Pervez Musharraf
Ali Kuli Khan
Aziz Mirza
Fasih Bokhari
Notable work(s) Work in civil-military relations and Decentralization
Military service
Nickname(s) Spearhead
Service/branch  Pakistan Army
Years of service 1961–1998
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Unit 13th Lancers, Army Armoured Corps
Commands DG for Military Operations
II Strike Corps
Pakistan Army Rangers
6th Armored Brigade Group
Pakistan Armed Forces, Middle East Contingent
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

Jehangir Karamat, (Urdu: جہانگیر کرامت; born 20 February 1941) NI(M), SBt, is a retired four-star rank army general, military academic, and a former professor of political science at the National Defense University who held four-star assignments– the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee from 1997 to 1998, and as the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army from January 1996 to October 1998.[1] After retiring from military service, he continued as a professor of Political science at the National Defence University (NDU) in Islamabad. In 2004, he was appointed as Pakistan Ambassador to the United States where he served from November 2004 until June 2006. He is also one of very few army generals in the military history of Pakistan to have resigned over a disagreement with the civilian authorities.[2]

He attended and graduated from Pakistan Military Academy in 1961 and served well in 1965 and the 1971 war with India. After his long active service in the army in which he held numerous prestigious assignments, he came to national prominence in 1995 when along with Major-General Ali Kuli Khan of Military Intelligence (MI) exposed the attempted coup d'état against the government of Prime minister Benazir Bhutto who conferred him with national award. In 1996, he was promoted to four-star rank and became Chief of Army Staff, and later became Chairman Joint Chiefs in 1997. He played a vital role in enhancing the democratic institutions in Pakistan, and staunchly backed Nawaz Sharif's authorisation of atomic-testing programme in 1998.[3] On 6 October 1998, Karamat was forced to relieved from his four-star commands by Prime minister Nawaz Sharif over a disagreement on national security.[4]

After his resignation, he became a diplomat and served as the military-civil adviser to the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). Karamat has been credited for foresight prediction of the dangers of unbalanced civil-military relations and the rise of foreign-supported homegrown terrorism in the country.[4] Many of his recommendations on national security were eventually became part of counterterrorism policy by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2013.[4]


Early and education[edit]

Jehangir Karamat was born on 20 February 1941 in Karachi, Sindh, British India to a Punjabi family.[5][6] His family hailed from Montgomery (now Sahiwal), and his father was a civil officer in the Pakistan government.[7][8]

He attended a private and Christian-operated Saint Patrick's High School and received his high-school diploma.[9] In 1957, Karamat passed the university entrance exam, and entered PMA, Kakul in the same year, and his mother also moved with him in Kakul to overlook his education.[5] In 1961, Karamat gained his BS in Military Science after submitting his senior thesis that contained the details of solving problems in civil-military relations.[5] Karamat is the class call of 24th PMA Long Course and stood as a top-ranking cadet at Kakul.[10] On 14 August 1961, Karamat was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 13th Lancers, Armoured Corps.[11]

In 1969, Karamat attended the Command and Staff College at Quetta where he gained a diploma in joint services before switching back to his war assignments. After participating in 1971 war, Karamat was accepted at the National Defence University. The same year, Karamat went to attend the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.[12] In 1976, Karamat completed his MSc in International Relations from there; and following his return, Karamat completed his master's programme at the National Defence University.[13] In 1977, Karamat was awarded MSc in War studies where his master's thesis argued and enlightened on the failure of performance of armed forces in 1971 war.[2][14][15]

During wars[edit]

In 1963, Karamat was promoted as Lieutenant, commanding an aromoured tank in the army.[16] Karamat served well in the 1965 war with India where he led a combined infantry platoon and an armoured unit in the Akhnur Sector in Jammu and Kashmir.[17] His company was the first unit that had penetrated 23 miles into enemy territory, which encouraged back-up companies to move forward into the enemy territory. Overall in this war, the 13 Lancers had suffered death of fourteen soldiers, including three officers, while twenty eight were wounded.[17] For this action, the 13th Lancers was awarded the battle honour, Dewa— Chumb and Jaurian of 1965, and was also awarded the title of The Spearhead Regiment.[18]

He progressed well in the army, being promoted to Captain in 1966; and elevated as Major in 1971.[19] During the 1971 war with India. Karammat commanded the unit of the aromoured tanks while trying to defend Punjab against the Indian Army.[19] Major Karamat was the CO of the 15th Armoured Troop, 13 Lancers, which, the 13th Lancers was part of the 8th Armoured Brigade that fought in the Shakargarh area of Sialkot Sector, which is now known as Battle of Barapind.[20] The regiment was awarded battle honour of Bara Pind 1971.[21] After the war, Karamat went on to attend premier military institutions for higher education where he specialised in administration and civil-military relations.[14] In 1977, Karamat was situated as Lieutenant-Colonel and he commanded his parent regiment, the 13 Lancers. Karamat was promoted as a Colonel in 1981.[14]

Staff appointments[edit]

After completing his advanced studies on military sciences, Karamat was sent to hold academic assignments rather than holding combat assignments.[11] Karamat did not take part in Soviet war in Afghanistan but was stationed in Lahore, Punjab Province.[22] Upon promoting as Brigadier– a 1-star promotion—, Karamat was dispatched as military adviser to Saudi military and commanded the Pakistani military joint forces contingent's armoured group.[23] He remained in Saudi Arabia until 1988 and returned to Pakistan after appointed to two-star assignment. While in Saudi Arabia, he also commanded his brigade and supervised military exercises between two countries.[23] From 1988–91, Major-General Karamat served as the Director-General Military Operations (DGMO); he played a crucial role in advancing the fighting capabilities of the Pakistan Army while he planned numerous military exercises for Pakistan Army. In 1991, Karmat took the command of Army Rangers for a short time.[20]

Prior to that, Karamat served as associate military professor at the Armed Forces War College.[14] In 1992, Karamat was elevated to the three-star assignment, promoted as Lieutenant-General.[24] From 1992–94, Karamat was the field commander of the II Corps stationed in Multan.[24] Eventually, Karamat was posted at the staff assignment at the Army GHQ and appointed as the Chief of General Staff (CGS) by then-chief of army staff General Abdul Waheed Kakar.[25] From 1993–96, Karamat continued to serve as honorary Colonel Commandant, and then Colonel-in-Chief– both ceremonial posts– of the Armoured Corps from 1996–98.[26][27]

In 1995, Lieutenant-General Karamat rose to public prominence when he had the Military Intelligence (MI) to infiltrate within the army to apprehend the rogue culprits for attempting a coup d'état.[25] Acting under orders from the General Karamat, DGMI Major-General Ali Kuli Khan monitored the activities of Major-General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi who himself was posted at the Army GHQ.[25] The MI tapped the conversations and tracked down the culprits behind the coup.[25] Upon revelation, Lieutenant-General Karamat forwarded the case and facilitated the high-ranking joint JAG court hearings at the specified military courts, and convened many proceedings while the hearings were heard by the military judges led by a Vice-Admiral.[28] His actions were widely perceived in the country, and for his efforts, General Karamat was conferred with national honours in public conventions and state gatherings.[28]

Chief of Army Staff[edit]

After approving the retirement papers of General Kakar, Lieutenant-General Jehangir Karamat was appointed the Chief of Army Staff by the then-Prime Minister Benazir who approved the paperwork for this appointment on 18 December 1995.[29] Per Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's approval, President Farooq Leghari confirmed the promotion of Lieutenant-General Karamat to the four-star rank and was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff when General Kakar was due to retire on 12 January 1996.[29]

At the time of his promotion, he was the senior most general at that time, and therefore at promotion to four-star general, he superseded no one.[30] At the time of his promotion, there were four senior generals in the race to replace Kakar as Chief of Army Staff: Lieutenant-General Jehangir Karamat, chief of general staff (CGS); Lieutenant-General Nasir Akhtar, quartermaster general (QMG); Lieutenant-General Muhammad Tariq, inspector-general training and evaluation (IGT&E) at the GHQ; and Lieutenant-General Javed Ashraf Qazi, commander XXX Corps stationed in Gujranwala.[31] As Chief of Army Staff, General Karamat tried to work with the Prime minister and President at once, but soon came to understand that the misconducts of politicians and bureaucrats would eventually lead to the dismissal of Benazir Bhutto's final government.[32]

General Karamat reached to then-Speaker of the National Assembly Yousaf Raza Gillani and "leaked" an intelligence information and tried convincing Benazir Bhutto and President Leghari to resolve their issues, and emphasised on focused on good governance. At one point, General Karamat wrote:

In my opinion, if we have to repeat of past events then we must understand that Military leaders can pressure only up to a point. Beyond that their own position starts getting undermined because the military is after all is a mirror image of the society from which it is drawn.

— General Jehangir Karamat commenting on Benazir's dismissal, [32]

Chairman of Joint Chiefs[edit]

In 1997, Chairman joint chiefs Air Chief Marshal Farooq Feroze Khan was due retirement. On immediate basis, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared in news channels to confirmed General Karamat as the new Chairman joint chiefs.[33] The appointment was met no resistance in the military, and General Karamat appointed as Chairman joint chiefs; he supersedes no one.

General Karamat drove Pakistan Armed Forces to focus on more professional duties rather than playing politics.[33] Karamat worked on integrating Pakistan's military on a common platform, and had his staff worked on inter-services coordination in the battlefield.[34] Karamat strengthened the joint work coordination and joint logistics of the military at the war time situations, resolving many issues that would hampered the performances of the inter-services in the war or peacetime situations.[35][36]

As an aftermath of India's nuclear tests in 1998, General Karamat acted as principle military adviser to the government, aiding the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on military platform.[37] At the telephonic meeting with the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Bill Clinton offered lucrative aid to Pakistan for not testing its devices; Prime Minister Sharif's response was inconclusive. President Bill Clinton described the meeting with the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Strobe Talbott: "You can almost hear the guy [Sharif] wringing his hands and sweating."[37]

With requests made by Strobe Talbott CENTCOM commander, General Anthony Zinni and US Chairman Joint chiefs General Henry Shelton, met with General Karamat to withdraw the decision to conduct nuclear test.[37] Zinni'e meeting with Karamat was described by Strobe Talbott as less contentious. General Karamat and General Zinni were able to draw "soldier–to–soldier" bond.[37] General Karamat made it clear that the final decision would be carried out by the civilian government.[37] At the NSC cabinet meeting, the Pakistani government, military, scientific, and civilian officials were participating in a debate, broadening, and complicating the decision-making process.[37] Although, General Karamat debated towards presenting the national security and military point of view, the final decision was left on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's say.[37]

After the decision was made, General Karamat was notified of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's decision and asked the military to be stand-by orders. After providing the joint military logistics, the nuclear tests were eventually carried out on 28 May 1998, as Chagai-I, and on 30 May 1998 as codename: Chagai-II.[38] As dawn broke over the Chagai mountains, Pakistan became the world's seventh nuclear power.[35]

Removal from Chairman joint chiefs[edit]

As the nuclear tests were conducted, there was a strong feelings in the military all together that any concession to India on Kashmir policy and other related issues would lead to a decline in the prestige and standing of the armed forces. After the failure to pass the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution, there were concerns raised by Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Peoples Party on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's absolute control over the politics, national security, and foreign policy.[39]

On 6 October 1998, General Karamat lectured at the Naval War College in Karachi on the civic-military relations and presented the idea on reestablishing the official National Security Council (NSC) where military could have representation in the country's politics.[40] General Karamat openly spoke on the role of the internal intelligences, such as FIA and IB, carrying out vendettas-like operations against political opponents and insecurity-driven and expedient policies while Pakistan capsized, at the behest of the politicians.[40] Prime Minister Sharif and his cabinet members perceived this idea as Chairman joint chiefs's interference in national politics, therefore Sharif forced to resign Karamat when he criticised Pakistan's political leadership and advocated a National Security Council that would give the military a constitutional role in running the country, similar to Turkey's.[41] In 1998, Prime Minister Sharif decided to relief General Karamat from the chairmanship of joint chiefs, eventually had him tendering his signature resignation at the Prime Minister's Secretariat.

The relief of the famous and famed general by the popular politician led to a storm of public controversy.[41][42] Many influential ministers and advisers in Prime Minister Sharif's circle saw this decision as "ill-considered" and "blunder" made by the Prime Minister.[3] At the military, Admiral Fasih Bokhari (Chief of Naval Staff at that time) criticized General Karamat for resigning but Karamat defended his actions as "right thing" to do as he lost th confidence of a constitutionally and popularly elected Prime Minister.[43]

As General Karamat received a full guard of honour retirement in a colorful ceremony as Chairman joint chiefs and chief of army staff, Prime Minister Sharif's mandate plummeted and his popularity waned as the majority of the public disapproved of the decision to relieve Karamat.[43] Prime Minister Sharif's further suffered with wide public disapproval after appointing much-junior General Pervez Musharraf at the both capacity, overruling the Admiral Bokhari's turn as the Chairman joint chiefs.[43] In 1999, Musharraf's unilateral initiation of the Kargil war against India nearly pushed Pakistan and India to the brink of an all-out war between the two Nuclear states. Eventually, in the same year, Musharraf staged a successful coup d'état and overthrew Prime Minister Sharif.[44]

Upon winning the general elections in 2013, Prime Minister Sharif did exactly what General Karamat had called for; first reestablishing the NSC with military gaining representation in the country's politics; and further making more reforms in intelligence community.[4]

Academic career[edit]

Before elevating to four-star assignments, General Karamat was the full tenured professor of the Political science at the National Defense University and held the chair of military science at the Armed Forces War College.[13] Among his notable students included Pervez Musharraf, Ali Kuli Khan, Fasih Bokhari and Abdul Aziz Mirza who studied under his guidance. Karamat had significance influence on Bokhari and Musharraf's philosophy and critical thinking.[1]

In 2000, Karamat accepted the professorship of War studies at the CISAC Institute of the Stanford University in Stanford, California, United States.[24] In addition, he was selected as a scholar and awarded research associateship on civil military relations at the Brookings Institution based in Washington, D.C., United States.[24] In 2001, Karamat joined the United Nations (UN) and was a part of the area study on Afghanistan.[45] Thereafter, Karamat joined the influential Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) as the chairman of the board of governors.[24]

Ambassador to the United States[edit]

In 2004, Karamat was first mentioned and named for the appointment as the Pakistan Ambassador to the United States. His nomination came after the outgoing Pakistan Ambassador, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, termed was due expired. On 23 September 2004, Pakistan Ambassador Qazi was appointed by then-Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq.[46] On 10 December 2004, Karamat presented his credentials to President George W. Bush.[47]

On 23 March 2006, Pakistani news media reported that Ambassador Karamat was to be replaced by retired Major General Mahmud Ali Durrani. The reports further stated Ambassador Karamat, who took his post on a two-year contract, would be returning home after only a year and a half.[48] These speculations were confirmed by the Foreign Office (FO) and noted that "Karamat will not be in the reception line at the Chaklala Airbase to welcome President George Bush.[49]

While his stint as Pakistan Ambassador, Karamat made the pro-democracy statements at the different Pakistani American gatherings, while passing critics to President Musharraf's style of running the civilian government.[50] In private, Karamat confided in Washington based U.S. journalist that "General Musharraf had made up this story to create wedge between the then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and him to get him fired.[50]

Founding think tank[edit]

After ambassadorship, General Jehangir Karamat founded a socio-political policy and analysis institute, Spearhead Research, which focuses on social, economic, military and political issues concerning Pakistan and Afghanistan. General Jehangir Karamat is the director and contributor to the Spearhead Research Institute.


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External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Farrakh Khan
Chief of General Staff
Succeeded by
Iftikhar Ali Khan
Preceded by
Abdul Waheed Kakar
Chief of Army Staff
Succeeded by
Pervez Musharraf
Preceded by
Farooq Feroze Khan
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi
Pakistan Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Mahmud Ali Durrani