Ghulam Ishaq Khan

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Ghulam Ishaq Khan
غلام اسحاق خان
Ghulam Ishaq Khan.jpeg
7th President of Pakistan
In office
17 August 1988 – 18 July 1993
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (1988-90)
Nawaz Sharif (1990-93)
Preceded by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Succeeded by Farooq Leghari
2nd Chairman of the Senate
In office
21 March 1985 – 12 December 1988
Preceded by Habibullah Khan
Succeeded by Wasim Sajjad
Finance Minister of Pakistan
In office
1978 – 21 March 1985
President Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry
Preceded by Abdul Hafiz Pirzada
Succeeded by Mahbub ul Haq
Defence Secretary of Pakistan
In office
12 October 1975 – 5 July 1977
President Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry
Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Preceded by Fazal Muqeem Khan
Succeeded by Ghulam Jilani Khan
Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan
In office
22 December 1971 – 30 November 1975
President Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry
Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Preceded by Shahkur Durrani
Succeeded by Osman Ali
Personal details
Born Ghulam Ishaq Khan
(1915-01-20)20 January 1915
Ismail Khel, North-West Frontier Province, British India
(now in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan)
Died 27 October 2006(2006-10-27) (aged 91)
Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Citizenship  Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Political party Independent
Alma mater University of Peshawar
Civil Services Academy
Religion Islam

Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) (Urdu: غلام اسحاق خان‎; 20 January, 1915 – 27 October, 2006) was a Pakistani civil servant who served as the 7th President of Pakistan from 1988 until his resignation in 1993.

Raised in Bannu, Ghulam Ishaq graduated from Peshawar University and entered the Indian Civil Service, opting for Pakistan after the independence in 1947. Appointed the first chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority by President Ayub Khan in 1961, Ghulam Ishaq also served as Finance Secretary from 1966 to 1970. A year later, he was appointed Governor of the State Bank by President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, before being made Defence Secretary in 1975, assisting with Pakistan's nuclear programme. He was retained by President Zia-ul-Haq as Finance Minister in 1977, overseeing the country's highest GDP growth average. Elected Chairman of the Senate in 1985, Ghulam Ishaq was elevated to the presidency after Zia's death in an air crash on 17 August, 1988. He was elected president on 13 December, as consensus candidate of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad and Pakistan People's Party.

The oldest person to serve as president, Ghulam Ishaq played a hawkish role against Communist Afghanistan, while relations with the United States deteriorated following the Pressler amendment. Domestically, Ghulam Ishaq's term faced challenges: ethnic riots flared in Karachi, and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto accused him of frustrating her government as part of an alliance with conservative opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and the post-Zia military establishment. Ghulam Ishaq invoked the Eight Amendment and dismissed Benazir's government after just 20 months, on charges of rampant corruption and misgovernance. Sharif was elected Prime Minister in 1990, but Ghulam Ishaq dismissed his government on similar charges three years later. The Supreme Court overturned the dismissal, but the gridlock ultimately led to both men resigning in 1993.

Retiring from public service, Ghulam Ishaq served as rector of the GIK Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology in his native province, dying from pneumonia in 2006. He is viewed contentiously by Pakistani historians; he is credited for personal austerity and supervising the nuclear programme to completion, but criticized for wielding an autocratic presidency that ousted two elected governments.[1] He has been cited as the most powerful civilian president in Pakistani history.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Ghulam Ishaq Khan was born in Ismail Khel, a rural locality on the outskirts of Bannu District, both villages in the North-West Frontier Province of the British Indian Empire, now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan.[1][3] He was an ethnic Bangash Pashtun. His family remains active in politics; his son-in-law is former federal minister Anwar Saifullah Khan. A granddaughter of his is married to Omar Ayub Khan, who is the grandson of former military dictator Ayub Khan and son of politician Gohar Ayub Khan.[4]

After his schooling in Bannu, Khan first attended the Islamia College before making transfer to Peshawar University. He obtained double BSc, in Chemistry[1] and in Botany.[1][5]

Initially looking for a university job, Khan joined the Indian Civil Service in 1941, serving in various provincial assignments on behalf of British India.[5] After independence in 1947, Khan opted for Pakistan and was assigned to the bureaucracy of the provincial government of North-West Frontier Province in 1947. He took over the provincial secretariat as the secretary of the irrigation department, which he held until 1955.[1]

Initial public service[edit]

In 1956, Khan was appointed Home Secretary of Sindh, but was later appointed Secretary of Department of Development and Irrigation by the Sindh government.[6] In 1958, he was elevated to federal government level, and assigned secretariat control of the Ministry of Agriculture, an appointment approved by President Ayub Khan.[6] Since 1958, Khan had been serving in the board of governors of the Water and Power Development Authority, before being elevating to Chairman in 1961. As Chairman, he played a vital role in the construction and financial development of Mangla Dam and Warsak Dam.[6]

In 1966, Khan left the chairmanship to be appointed Finance Secretary of the Finance Ministry until 1970, which he relinquished to incoming Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[6] After Pakistan's loss to India in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Khan was called to administer all retail and commercial services pertaining to the national economy tattered by war.[7] In 1971, Bhutto appointed him Governor of State Bank of Pakistan when he was tasked to carry out monetary and credit policy in accordance to Government policy with influence of socialism.[8] In the latter position, he questioned the wisdom of a number of the economic policies of then-Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was keen to intensify his nationalization and socialist influence in the financial institutions that marked the slow down of the economy.[8][9]

Defence Secretary (1975–77)[edit]

In 1975, Prime Minister Bhutto subsequently removed him from the State Bank, instead posting him at the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Khan was appointed Defence Secretary which would proved to be fortuitous in that it brought him into close contact with the Pakistani military establishment.[9] Though an unusual assignment for a financial expert, this appointment brought him to close to the military and which made him a power bureaucrat in the country.[10] During that time, Khan became closer to General Zia-ul-Haq and had later coveted for General Zia-ul-Haq's appointment as the chief of army staff.[9]

As Defence Secretary, he helped manage the Pakistan's large but integrated atomic bomb project and had been directly associated with the program.[11] Khan was a vehement support of the program and saw the program as a "national priory".[11] He backed the advocacy of theorist dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and helped establishing the Engineering Research Laboratories in Kahuta.[5] He headed the Uranium Coordination Board (UCB) which consisted of AGN Kazi, Munir Ahmad, and Agha Shahi; he later helped consolidated the efforts at ERL under Lt. Gen. Zahid Ali Akbar as its first military director.[11] After approving the survey by General Akbar, he helped secured the funds for the ERL works and providing lobbying for General Akbar's promotion as the Engineer-in-Chief.[11] Khan cemented close relations with Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and Munir Ahmad Khan, and remained Qadeer Khan's staunch loyal.[11]

His involvement and support earned him the nickname as "Mr. Nuke"[1][8] by the U.S. diplomats, while the new media dubbed him as "Baba Atom Bomb ".[3]

On Contrary, Ishaq Khan did not have the directorial role in the atomic bomb program until Munir Ahmad Khan retired.[12] After Munir Ahmad Khan took retirement from Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), President Ghulam Ishaq Khan eventually consolidated the entire program under the civic-military control, and supervised the classified projects of the program.

Minister of Finance (1977–85)[edit]

After the Prime Minister Bhutto was ousted in a staged coup d'état in 1977, Khan played a crucial role in the event of stabilizing chief of army staff General Zia-ul-Haq, in Bhutto's capacity.[11] After meeting with the military leadership at the JS HQ, Khan reportedly marked that: "this action was going to harm the country, but since it could not be reversed, they should do their best to salvage whatever they could."[11] He was immediately elevated as Finance Minister by General Zia-ul-Haq, who acted as the Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA).[13] A team of economic experts and technocrats were assembled in the management of Khan, and giving him the authority over the Planning Commission, Economic Coordination Committee, and Executive Committee of the Space Research Council.[13] Khan worked towards controlling the national economy while harnessing the damaged Private sector.[13][14] In 1977, Khan endorsed General Zia-ul-Haq's bid for becoming the President of Pakistan who tightened the grip of martial law in the country.[15]

In the 1980s, Khan backed the implementation of the economic Islamization by introducing the risk-free interest rate system as well as establishing the corporatization in the industrial sector.[13] Khan managed the revenue collection and provided the modern shape in the state–owned enterprises (SOEs) that were established in a nationalization in the 1970s.[16] His policies and economic expertise ultimately resulted in the improvement in GDP and GNP progress, helping Pakistan's economy become among the fastest-growing in South Asia.[17]

He maintained his ties with the nuclear society and gave strong priority for the nuclear deterrence as channeling financial funds for the development of the atomic bomb projects. Khan gave tax free status to Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).[6] In 1983, Khan was among the invited secret dignitaries who witnessed the first Cold test, Kirana-I; along with attendees General Zahid Ali (E-in-C), General KM Arif (COAS), AVM MJ O'Brian (AOC)), and Munir Ahmad (Chair PAEC).[18] In 1984, Khan supported the referendum for Islamization held by President Zia.[19]

Chairman Senate (1985–88)[edit]

After the non-partisan general elections held in 1985, Khan was succeeded by Mahbub ul Haq– an economist.[10] Khan decided to participate in the upcoming indirect senate elections as an independent.[10] In 1985, he became Chairman of the Senate which he remained intact in that capacity until 1988.[10]

After the controversial and mysterious aviation accident occurred in Bahawalpur, Khan appeared in national television where he announced the death of General Zia-ul-Haq.[20] According to the Constitution of Pakistan, Khan was the second in the line of succession to the President of Pakistan. However, General Mirza Aslam Beg called out for the general elections held in 1988.[21] Until the elections, Khan served as an acting President in accordance with the Constitutional rules of succession.[10]

President of Pakistan (1988–93)[edit]

Reaching the mutual understanding with the leftist Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Khan participated in presidential elections on a PPP platform.[22] Khan secured 608 votes against the four candidates who took in the elections; he was also supported by the conservative IDA led by Nawaz Sharif.[22]

As president, Khan was marred with political struggle with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who attempted for pushing the bill to reverse the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan.[22] Furthermore, Khan was in a conflict with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in two areas; the appointment of the military chiefs of staff and the Justices of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.[22] Khan consolidated his position in controlling the nuclear deterrence, keeping all the control over the program's direction. Problems arose when Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto made contacts with Munir Ahmad and Abdul Qadeer Khan over the program's direction, which frustrated Khan.[6] Economic growth slowed down and introduction of the US Embargo on Pakistan caused a great economic panic in the country.[6] In the 1990s, Khan and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto failed to arrest the 30% fall in the value of ₨. from 21 to 30 to the US $.[6]

Khan struggled to control the law and order in the country after witnessing the troop retreat from Afghanistan.[6] Although, he maintained an ally of the United States.[23]

Appointment of Chiefs of Armed Forces[edit]

As President, Khan reportedly raised objections and further vetoed the appointment of Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul, former DG ISI, as Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army.[24] He also denied the extension of General Mirza Aslam Beg despite Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's urging.[24] He favored appointing General Asif Nawaz as Chief of Army Staff.[24] Khan suffered a political loss when General Rahimuddin Khan resigned from the post of Governor of Sindh, due to differences between the two after Khan started restricting Rahimuddin's vast amount of legislative power.[24] On the advice of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, he confirmed Air Chief Marshal Farooq Feroze as Chief of Air Staff of Pakistan Air Force.[24] Khan later confirmed Admiral Yastur-ul-Haq Malik as Chief of Naval staff of Pakistan Navy.[24] On Prime minister Benazir Bhutto's recommendation and advice, Khan approved Admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey, former Chief of Naval Staff, as Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee; he raised no objections for that appointment.[24]

Dismissal of Bhutto and Sharif governments[edit]

As economic and law and order crises deepened, Khan used Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan dismissed Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's government over the corruption charges and deteriorating law and order situation as he called out for a new elections.[22] After holding the general elections in 1993, he supported Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister and his IDA government.[22] Problems with Prime Minister Sharif arose with the issue of reversing the Eighth Amendment when Sharif tried to pass the bill.[22] Eventually, he used the Eighth Amendment to dismiss Prime Minister Sharif on similar charges, but Prime Minister Sharif retaliated after bring a lawsuit against him in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.[22] His attempt to use the Eighth Amendment was marked as illegal by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and reinstated Prime Minister Sharif.[22] The political deadlock remained the joint intervention of judiciary and the military resulted in forced resignation of both Prime Minister Sharif and Khan.[22]

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, as President of Pakistan, was able to dismiss the governments of both prime ministers, 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.

Philanthropy, retirement and death[edit]

In 1988, Khan founded and established the famed Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology that offers offers world-class programmes in engineering, and science and technology in the country. The university was established with the financial support from BCCI.[6] He invited A Q Khan who took the professorship of physics and delegated Asghar Qadir, a PAEC mathematician, to take professorship in mathematics.[6] He again negotiated with the PPP for the presidency but eventually dropped as a candidate in favour of Farooq Leghari in general elections held in 1993.[8] He retired from the national politics and avoided all contact with international and domestic news media.[22] He died on 27 October 2006, after a bout of pneumonia.[4]

He has to his credit the establishment of Rs 2.2 billion Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology in Swabi, Topi, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Staff report (28 October 2006). "Obituary: Ghulam Ishaq Khan". Telegraph. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Herald, Pakistan. "Ghulam Ishaq Khan". Press biographical sketch of Pakistan Herald. Pakistan Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Intikhab Amir. "Ghulam Ishaq Khan passes away". Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan. Retrieved 28 October 2006. 
  5. ^ a b c Khan, A. Q. (26 January 2015). "An indomitable man". Special biographical accounts by Dr. A. Q. Khan, published at the News International (News International, 2015). News International, 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Talbot, Ian (1998). "Ghulam Ishaq Khan". Pakistan : a modern history (google books) (3rd ed.). New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 386–387. ISBN 978-0230623040. Retrieved 20 October 2012.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Palgrave_Macmillan" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  7. ^ Intikhab Amir (28 October 2006). "Ghulam Ishaq Khan passes away". Dawn News Group. Dawn. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d Staff (30 October 2006). "Quiet' president of Pakistan who sacked two prime ministers". Independent, UK. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c Staff. "President Ghulam Ishaq Khan". US Government (Country Studies). United States Government. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e US Govt. "President Ghulam Ishaq Khan as Power Broker". US Govt. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g AQ Khan. "Bhutto, GIK and Kahuta". Dr. A Q Khan. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  12. ^ Khan, Feroz Hassan (2012). Eating grass the making of the Pakistani bomb. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804784809. 
  13. ^ a b c d Farazmand, ed. by Ali (1996). Public enterprise management : international case studies (1. publ. ed.). Westport, Conn. [u.a.]: Greenwood Press. pp. 171–176. ISBN 0-313-28025-8. 
  14. ^ Beaty, Jonathan; Gwynne, S.C. (2004). The outlaw bank : a wild ride into the secret heart of BCCI (Reprint. ed.). Washington, D.C.: Beard Books. ISBN 1587981467. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  15. ^ staff writer. "Zia Became President". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Duffey, James P. Farwell ; foreword by Joseph D. (2011). The Pakistan cauldron conspiracy, assassination & instability (1st ed.). Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books. ISBN 159797983X. 
  17. ^ Khanna, Sushil Khanna. "The Crisis in the Pakistan Economy". Sushil Khanna. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  18. ^ "When Mountains Move – The Story of Chagai". Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  19. ^ Nasr (2001). Islamic Leviathan : Islam and the Making of State Power: Islam and the. New York [u.s]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019803296X. 
  20. ^ PTV archives. "Ghulam Ishaq Khan Announcing the death of Zia Ul Haq". PTV archives. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  21. ^ Blood, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. Ed. by Peter R. (1995). Pakistan : a country study (6. ed., 1. print. ed.). Washington, D.C.: Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Gov. Print. Off. ISBN 0-8444-0834-4.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Story of Pakistan Press Foundation. "Ghulam Ishaq Khan becomes President". Story of Pakistan Press Foundation. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  23. ^ de Hoyos, Linda (April 16, 1993). "Pakistan in iron grip of Ghulam Ishaq Khan" (PDF). Washington DC: EIR Archives. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Kapur, Ashok (2006). Pakistan in Crises. United States: Routledge. ISBN 1134989776. 

External links[edit]

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Political offices
Preceded by
Fazal Muqeem Khan
Defence Secretary of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Ghulam Jilani Khan
Preceded by
Abdul Hafiz Pirzada
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Mahbub ul Haq
Preceded by
Khan Habibullah Khan
Chairman of the Senate
Succeeded by
Wasim Sajjad
Preceded by
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
President of Pakistan