Syed Shahid Hamid

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Not to be confused with the governor of Punjab, Shahid Hamid.
Syed Shahid Hamid
Birth name Syed Shahid Hamid
Nickname(s) Master General
Born (1910-09-17)17 September 1910
Lucknow, India
Died 12 March 1993(1993-03-12) (aged 82)
Rawalpindi Punjab province, Pakistan
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Army
Years of service 1934–1964
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major-General
Commands held Master General of Ordnance (MGO)
Adjutant-General (AG)
Additional DG Inter Services Intelligence
DG Military Intelligence
Chief Instructor Command and Staff College

World War II

Indo-Pakistani War of 1947

Awards Hilal-i-Jurat

Major General Syed Shahid Hamid (Urdu: سید شاہد حامد‎) HJ (17 September 1910 – 12 March 1993) was a 2 star general in the Pakistan Army and a close associate of President Field Marshal Ayub Khan who played an important and an instrumental role in bringing Field Marshal Ayub Khan to power in the 1958 coup d'état that overthrew the government of President Major-General Iskander Mirza. Major General Syed Shahid Hamid was the first Master General of Ordnance (MGO) of Pakistan Army. A descendant of Amir Kulal,[1] General Shahid Hamid was an inside player in the crucial months during Independence in 1947. A veteran intelligence officer, he authored numerous books, notably the Autobiography of a General which was last published in 1965. His other books are "Courage is a Weapon", "Early Years of Pakistan" and "So they Rode and Fought".

However, the most important book written by him was "Disastrous Twilight" which was the diary he kept from 1945 till 1947. This was the time he served as Private Secretary to FM Sir Claude Auchinleck, c-in-c of the Indian Army. In this book considerable doubt is cast on the impartiality and the integrity of the last Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten.

It was this lack of impartiality that was one of the main factors in creating the chaos of the independence of Pakistan and India. This was done by manipulating the findings of the Radciffe Boundary Award.

He is the uncle of the Bombay-born British novelist, Salman Rushdie, a fierce critic of the ISI that Gen. Hamid founded.

Early life[edit]

Syed Shahid Hamid was born in Lucknow, India. He was admitted in 1923 to Colvin Taluqdar school (Lucknow) and following that by the Aligarh Muslim University where he received his B.A. in Mathematics, followed by his M.A. in mathematics from Aligarh Muslim University.[2] He was accepted to Royal Military College Sandhurst, England in 1932. He received a commission on the Unattached List, Indian Army on 1 February 1934. He arrived in India on 16 February 1934 and was shortly afterwards attached to the 2nd battalion the Prince of Wales Volunteers (South Lancashire) regiment at Allahbad. On 12 March 1935 he was admitted to the Indian Army and joined the 3rd Cavalry at Meerut. His senority as a Second Lieutenant was antedated to 31 August 1933. He was later transferred to the Royal Indian Army Service Corps where he served in Kohat, Fort Sandeman and Risalpur. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 30 November 1935 and to Captain on 31 August 1941.

Military career[edit]

During the Second World War, he saw extensive service on the Burma front where his eyes were badly injured, He was in the retreat from Rangoon and finally was evacuated from Shewbo to Calcutta. On being declared fit for duty he was posted to Staff College, Quetta in 1943 and was a Senior Instructor at the Command and Staff College, Quetta. Auchinleck made him his private Military Secretary and he played an influential role in the decision making of Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck during in World War II.[2] Shahid Hamid was an inside player in the crucial months leading up to the independence of Pakistan in 1947. During his time in Delhi, he resided at 12 Willingdon Crescent.

Shahid Hamid was at the centre of the political storm during the independence of Pakistan in 1947 when Auchinleck attempted to keep the army united and was then forced to divide it between India and Pakistan, while the Viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, went ahead and divided the South Asia. A few months ago, after the independence, then-Colonel Shahid Hamid told the local journalist, Ahmed Rashid, that he was finishing a book on the drawing-up of the Radcliffe Award which delineated the border between India and Pakistan. Hamid told Ahmed Rasid that, in his book, he could prove conclusively that Mountbatten fiddled the boundary in Punjab in favour of India.

Senior appointments[edit]

Shahid Hamid opted for Pakistan and was inherited in Pakistan Army. As a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1948, he set up the now-famous Inter Services Intelligence from a small office in Karachi. He saw the army in action in Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, and had led the military operations in Kashmir. In 1951, at the age of 41, he became the youngest general in the Pakistan army - a record that is still unbeaten. During the 1958 martial law imposed by Field Marshal Ayub Khan, Shahid Hamid was the adjutant-general of the army, and had played an important role in bringing the Field Marshal to power in 1958. In 1960, he was made the first Master General of Ordnance (MGO) of the Army. Major General Hamid took retirement from the Army in 1964, and was given an honorary discharge. After his retirement, he went into private business but was summoned back to public life in 1978 by President Zia ul-Haq, under whom he served as a federal cabinet minister for three years.[2]


Shahid Hamid was deeply interested in education and he helped found, and was then patron for 20 years of, the Sir Syed College, which today educates 3,500 students. He was one of the earliest travellers in Pakistan's mountainous Northern Areas and opened up the region for local people and tourism by pushing through road projects and writing books and articles which publicised the beauty of the area.[2]

Hamid as scholar[edit]

For the last 20 years he spent his days writing and researching books. He wrote six books on the Northern Areas, the politics of independence and the Pakistan army, and an autobiography. His last book - the first volume of an intended three-volume work, Pakistan and its Early Years - was published only last week. Shahid Hamid had numerous friends in England, where he invariably spent the summer, while a visit to 'Shaigan', his home in Rawalpindi, became essential for any foreign diplomat, journalist, scholar or military man. British cabinet ministers, US secretaries of state and Russian scholars were frequent visitors. In recent months he had been thrilled by the opening up of central Asia to Pakistanis for the first time and he was planning a trip there to discover more about his forefathers.[2]


Although a professional soldier, thoroughly methodical and a man who lived the day by a clockwork timetable, the general was famous for his overwhelming hospitality, his generosity to everyone and his intense curiosity about every aspect of life and letters. At heart he was a romantic who still believed in the essential good faith of people, although Pakistan's elite society has become increasingly corrupt and uncaring.[2]


  1. ^ Shahid Hamid, "Autobiography of a General."
  2. ^ a b c d e f Rashid, Ahmed (15 March 1993). "Obituary: Maj-Gen Syed Shahid Hamid". The Independent. Retrieved 23 May 2013.