Gul Hassan Khan

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Gul Hassan Khan
Lieutenant-General Gul Hassan Khan of Pakistan Army..jpg
Khan as a Major General
Birth nameGul Hassan Khan
Quetta, Balochistan, British India
(Present-day Pakistan)
DiedOctober 10, 1999(1999-10-10) (aged 77–78)
Allegiance Pakistan
Service/branch Pakistan Army
Years of service1933–1972
RankOF-8 PakistanArmy.svgUS-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant-General
Service numberPA-457
UnitFrontier Force Regiment
Commands heldCommander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army
Chief of General Staff (CGS)
1 Armoured Division
Directorate for Military Operations
Battles/warsIndo-Pakistani War of 1947
Indo-Pakistani war of 1965
Indo-Pakistani war of 1971
AwardsStar of Pakistan
Other workAuthor

Gul Hassan Khan (Urdu: گل حسن خان‎) (1921; b. 1921—10 October 1999[1]), was a former lieutenant-general and the last Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army, serving under President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto from 20 December 1971 until 3 March 1972.

He was succeeded by Tikka Khan who was promoted as four-star rank and designated as the Chief of Army Staff.


Early life and military career[edit]

Gul Hassan Khan was born in Quetta, Balochistan, British India into a middle class Pashtun family in 1921.[2][3][4] In 1939, he was admitted and joined the Royal Indian Military College in Dehradun and moved to the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun to graduate from there in 1942. He was an excellent Hockey player and gained fame as boxer at the Military Academy.[5]

He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in Frontier Force Regiment (FF Regiment) and posted in Army GHQ in New Delhi.:488[5] He was later stationed in Assam with Assam Rifles and participated in Burma Campaign in 1944–45 on the side of the Great Britain.:236–237[3] During World War II, he selected to serve as Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to Viscount Slim who commanded the 14th Army.:488[5] He was promoted to two-star rank and elevated as Major-General in the army.[6]

During the war with India in 1965, he was Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) and directed military operations against the Indian Army.[7] His actions of valor won him the nomination of prestigious Sitara-e-Pakistan by the President. In 1967, he was made GOC of the 1st Armoured Division of the Armoured Corps stationed in Multan, Punjab.[1] In 1969, he was promoted to three-star rank as lieutenant-general and subsequently was the Chief of General Staff (CGS) at the Army GHQ.[8]

Role in 1971 Black September[edit]

According to the testimonies provided by Major-General A.O. Mitha, it was Gul Hasan's lobbying at the Army GHQ who also saved then Brigadier Zia-ul-Haq (Chief of Pakistan military mission) from being terminated. Brigadier Zia who was in Jordan in 1971 was requested to be court-martial from Major-General Nawazish to President Yahya Khan for disobeying GHQ orders by commanding a Jordanian armoured division against the Palestinians, as part of actions in which thousands were killed.[9] That event is known as "Operation Black September". It was Gul Hasan who interceded for Zia and Yahya Khan let Zia off the hook.[10]

1971 war and Bangladesh[edit]

In 1971, he was the Chief of General Staff at the Army GHQ and allegedly either executed or approved military operations in East Pakistan.[11] As CGS of Pakistan Army, he was heading the military operations and intelligence during this period.[11] It is also alleged that he was the "intellectual planner" of Pakistan Army's crackdown in the East and that he preferred a military solution of the political crisis looming over the horizon of Pakistan during 1971.[12] He lacked foresight as was viewed by some of his colleagues in Pakistan Army as "short on strategic vision but good as field commander".[13]

He, along with Air Marshal A.R. Khan, played a crucial role in forcing President Yahya Khan to step down from the presidency.[14]

Army Commander (1971–72)[edit]

After the 1971 war which ended with unilateral surrender to India, President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto called Lieutenant-General Gul Hassan to take over the post of Commander in Chief of Pakistan Army, which he refused.[15] However, he reluctantly accepted the post on several of his set conditions and took over the command of Pakistan Army.[15] In controversy, Khan was avoided to be promoted the four-star rank as opposed to his predecessors, by Bhutto.:210[16] Initially, he provided his support to President Bhutto but began obstructing the hearings of Hamoodur Rahman Commission.[16] Reports were surfacing that Gul Hassan Khan, alongside with Air Marshal A.R. Khan, were interfering in state's affairs and influencing on Hamoodur Rahman Commission.:213[16]

As Army Commander-in-Chief, he lessened the role and value of the Inter–Services Intelligence which lost its importance throughout this time, and the new Army Commander did not pay any attention to ISI as he relied on Intelligence Buurea (IB) instead.[17] The ISI's covert operations were never revealed to him and Khan was reluctant and incompetent commander to control the ISI; instead the ISI began directly reporting to President Bhutto.:88[17]

In 1972, the Hamoodur Rahman Commission implicated him for his role in atrocities committed in East Pakistan which eventually led towards his termination. Upon approval of his termination papers, the Governor of Punjab Ghulam Mustafa Khar allegedly huddled up in a car and taken to Lahore.:122[18] Khan's alleged involvement and his controversial approvals of military operations during 1971 in East Pakistan [11] created a public resentment towards him, as he was the Director-General of the Director-general for the Military Operations (DGMO). When it was cleared by Hamoodur Rahman Commission, led by Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman, Bhutto fired Khan as Army Commander-in-Chief and appointed General Tikka Khan instead.


He had three brothers and a sister. He has relatives still residing in Pabbi Nowshera District, and in Quetta, Pakistan. General Gul Hassan Khan died in 1999 and was buried in Pabbi in Nowshera District (Main town of Chirrat Cant, Chowki Mumriaz, Taroo Jaba, Akber Pura).

In the last few years of his life he was dividing his time between Vienna, Austria and Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He has one son, Sher Hassan Khan, who resides in Vienna with his mother. He wrote a book Memoirs of Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Gul Hassan Khan, Memoirs of Lt.Gen.Gul Hassan Khan, OUP Pakistan (1994) ISBN 0-19-577445-0


  1. ^ a b Qayyum, Colonel Abdul (March 2000). "Remembering Lt Gen Gul Hasan". Col. A. Quyyum, Defence Journal. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  2. ^ Alikozai, Hamid (19 January 2015). A Concise History of Afghanistan-Central Asia and India in 25 Volumes. Trafford Publishing. p. 40. ISBN 9781490735948. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b Burki, Shahid Javed (1999). Historical Dictionary of Pakistan. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 236–237. ISBN 9781442241480. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Rediff on the NeT: An interview with General Gul Hassan Khan, the former Pakistani army chief".
  5. ^ a b c Bhattacharya, Brigadier Samir (12 November 2013). NOTHING BUT!. Partridge Publishing. pp. 488–489. ISBN 9781482814767. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  6. ^ Khan, Gul Hassan. Memoirs of Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan. Oxford University Press. p. 438.
  7. ^ Koithara, Verghese (10 August 2004). Crafting Peace in Kashmir: Through A Realist Lens. SAGE Publications India. p. 94. ISBN 9788132103370. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  8. ^ Chaudhry, Praveen K.; Vanduzer-Snow, Marta (6 January 2011). The United States and India: A History Through Archives: The Later Years. SAGE Publications. p. 443. ISBN 9788132104773.
  9. ^ Mitha, A.O. (2003). Unlikely beginnings : a soldier's life. Karachi: Oxford University Press, Mitha. p. 500. ISBN 978-0-19-579413-7.
  10. ^ Newspaper, From the (25 August 2016). "Zia: A Counter-view". Dawn Newspapers. Dawn. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  11. ^ a b c "Genocide in Bangladesh, 1971. Gendercide Watch". Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  12. ^ Ullah, A. H. Jaffor. "Gul Hassan Khan". Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  13. ^ Qayyum, Col(Rtd) Abdul. "Remembering Gen Gul Hassan". Defence Journal. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  14. ^ Prabhakar, Peter Wilson (2003). Wars, Proxy-wars and Terrorism: Post Independent India. Mittal Publications. ISBN 9788170998907. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  15. ^ a b Jaffrelot, Christopher (15 August 2015). The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience. Oxford University Press, Jaffrelot. ISBN 9780190613303. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  16. ^ a b c Rizvi, Hasan Askari (2000). The Military & Politics in Pakistan, 1947–1997. Sang-e-Meel Publications. p. 382. ISBN 9789693511482. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  17. ^ a b Sirrs, Owen L. (July 2016). Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate: Covert Action and Internal Operations. Routledge. ISBN 9781317196099. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  18. ^ Shah, Aqil (21 April 2014). The Army and Democracy. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674419773. Retrieved 2 September 2016.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Sahabzada Yaqub Khan
Chief of General Staff
Succeeded by
M. Rahim Khan
Preceded by
Yahya Khan
Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army
Succeeded by
Tikka Khan (as Chief of Army Staff)