Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad

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Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad
খন্দকার মোশতাক আহমেদ
Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad portrait.jpg
President of Bangladesh
In office
15 August 1975 – 6 November 1975
Preceded by Mujibur Rahman
Succeeded by Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem
Personal details
Born 1918
Daspara, British Raj
(now Bangladesh)
Died 5 March 1996 (aged 77–78)
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Political party Awami League (1949–1975; 1975–1996)
Other political
All-India Muslim League (Before 1949)
Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (1975)
Alma mater University of Dhaka
Religion Islam

Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad (also spelled Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed) (Bengali: খন্দকার মোশতাক আহমেদ;1918 – 5 March 1996) was a Bangladeshi politician who served as the President of Bangladesh from 15 August to 6 November 1975, after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh. Ahmad played important roles in the Awami League and the Bangladesh government-in-exile formed during the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Early life[edit]

Born in the village of Daspara in Daudkandi Upazila of Comilla District, Khondakar Mostaq Ahmad obtained a law degree from the University of Dhaka and joined politics in 1942. An activist in the Pakistan movement and a leading student activist in the Muslim League, Ahmad was one of the founder joint secretaries of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League,[1] founded by Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani and later renamed Awami League co-founded by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. Ahmad was one of the closest associates of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, since his earliest days as a student leader.

Political career[edit]

Ahmad was elected a member of the East Pakistan Provincial Assembly in 1954 as a candidate of the United Front. After the central government of Pakistan dissolved the United Front, Mostaq Ahmad was jailed in 1954 with other Bengali leaders. He was released in 1955 and elected chief whip of the United Front parliamentary party. But with the promulgation of martial law in the country in 1958 he was arrested by the regime of Ayub Khan. During the 6 Point Movement, Ahmad was once again jailed in 1966. Following his release, Ahmad accompanied Sheikh Mujib (then the topmost leader of the Awami League) to the all-parties conference called by Ayub Khan in Rawalpindi in 1969. He was elected a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan in 1970.

Government of Bangladesh in exile[edit]

At the onset of the Bangladesh Liberation War and Mujib's arrest, Ahmad and other Awami League leaders gathered in Meherpur to form the Government of Bangladesh in exile. Syed Nazrul Islam served as Acting President (Mujib was declared President), Tajuddin Ahmad served as Prime Minister and Khondokar Mostaq Ahmad was made Foreign Minister.[2][3] In this capacity, Ahmad was to build international support for the cause of Bangladesh's independence. But his role as the Foreign Minister became controversial as he wanted a peaceful solution, remaining within Pakistan in line with the Six Point Charter. Zafrullah Chowdhury alleges that Mostaq Ahmad did not act alone in this regard and that Awami League leaders were involved.[4]

President of Bangladesh[edit]

After Bangladesh's independence, Ahmad became a member of the cabinet of Sheikh Mujib. First he was appointed Foreign Minister of Independent Bangladesh, a responsibility that he had been discharging since the formation of Bangladesh Government in exile. Later Sheikh Mujibur Rahman appointed him Minister of Power, Irrigation and Flood Control. In 1975, he was made the Commerce Minister. However, by this time Ahmad was believed to have been distanced from Mujib as he was suspected of forging alliances with anti-India and anti socialist groups. A conservative leader, Ahmad opposed Mujib's socialism, secularism and pro-India policies. Despite this, Ahmad remained in Mujib's cabinet and was appointed a member of the BAKSAL executive committee when Mujib banned other political parties, declaring himself as President.

Sheikh Mujib and all but two members of his family (his daughters, who were in West Germany at the time and thus escaped the carnage) were assassinated in a military coup orchestrated by a group of junior army officers on 15 August and Mustaq himself was in the killing of Mujib as he confessed in a TV interview in 1975. But he could not rule and was overtook by Colonel Zia in 1975.[5]

Ahmad immediately took control of the government, proclaiming himself as President.[6] Several of the army officers involved in Mujib's assassination were promoted, e.g. Major Syed Faruque Rahman was promoted as Lt. Col.[7] Major General Ziaur Rahman was appointed as Chief of Army Staff of the Bangladesh Army, replacing K M Shafiullah. He praised the assassins calling them shurjo shontan(sons of the sun).[8] Ahmad also ordered the imprisonment of leaders Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, A. H. M. Qamaruzzaman and Muhammad Mansur Ali. He replaced the national slogan of Joy Bangla with Bangladesh Zindabad slogan and changed the name Bangladesh Betar to 'Radio Bangladesh'. More controversially, he proclaimed the Indemnity Ordinance, which granted immunity from prosecution to the assassins of Mujib. Mujib's daughters Sheikh Hasina Wazed and Sheikh Rehana were barred from returning to Bangladesh from abroad. BAKSAL and pro-Mujib political groups were dissolved.

On 3 November, in what became infamously known as the "Jail Killing Day",[9] the four imprisoned leaders Tajuddin Ahmad, Syed Nazrul Islam, A. H. M. Qamaruzzaman, and Muhammad Mansur Ali, they had refused to cooperate with Mostaq,[10] were killed inside Dhaka Central Jail by a group of army officers on the instruction of President Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad.[11] However, Ahmad was ousted from power on 6 November in a coup led by Khaled Mosharraf and Shafat Jamil.

Later life and legacy[edit]

Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad was imprisoned by Brigadier General Khaled Mosharraf[12] and later by the Ziaur Rahman administration until 1978. Upon his release, he formed Democratic League and attempted to resuscitate his political career, but to no avail. He spent his last years in Dhaka and died on 5 March 1996.

Ahmad was named in the investigation of the murder of Sheikh Mujib launched in 1996 by his daughter Sheikh Hasina, who had just won the national elections to become Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Hasina blamed Mostaq for her father's death.[13] Due to his death, he was not charged or tried. Historians and critics assert that Ahmad was one of the key plotters of Mujib's murder. He is also criticised for legitimising political murders by protecting Mujib's killers.

He is also known to be responsible for the killing of the four national leaders, among whom were the former Prime Minister of Bangladesh Tajuddin Ahmed and Captain Muhammad Mansur Ali, and former interior minister A. H. M. Qamaruzzaman on 3 November 1975 inside the Dhaka Central Jail, commemorated as Jail Killing Day by the Awami League today.[10]


  1. ^ Khan, Saleh Athar (2012). "Ahmad, Khondakar Mostaq". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  2. ^ "PM pays homage to Bangabandhu to mark Mujibnagar Day". Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  3. ^ "Historic Mujibnagar Day being observed". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  4. ^ Ahmed, Taib; Islam, Khadimul (16 December 2014). "'Mujib Bahini didn't fight liberation war'". New Age. Dhaka. Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  5. ^ Anthony Mascarenhas, Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood ISBN 0-340-39420-X
  6. ^ "Muhammad Ali In Bangladesh: 35 Years Ago The Champ Visited A New Nation In Turmoil". International Business Times. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  7. ^ "Exorcisms in Bangladesh". Newsweek Pakistan. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  8. ^ Tripathi, Salil. "'Of course, we killed him ... he had to go'". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  9. ^ Habib, Haroon (4 November 2006). "Hasina extends deadline". The Hindu. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  10. ^ a b Newton, Michael (2014). Famous Assassinations in World History: An Encyclopedia [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-61069-286-1. 
  11. ^ Dasgupta, Sukharanjan (1978). Midnight Massacre in Dacca. New Delhi: Vikas. pp. 77–78. ISBN 0-7069-0692-6. Khondakar also knew that the situation was bound to be grave once Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Kamaruzzaman and Mansur Ali were released ... Khondakar had had them arrested under various pretexts shortly after Mujib's assassination, and they were still rotting in Dacca Jail. So, Khondakar ... managed to allow the associates of the "killers" [the seven Majors who assassinated Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] inside the jail to brutally kill these four leaders. 
  12. ^ "A matter of national interest". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  13. ^ "Zia involved in Mujib killing: PM". New Age. Dhaka. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Mujibur Rahman
President of Bangladesh
Succeeded by
Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem