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Khan, Lt. General Mohammad Azam


Khan, Lt. General Mohammad Azam (1909 - ?) army officer, governor of East Pakistan. He was born in 1909 at a village named Mathora near Peshawar. He joined the Indian army at the age of twenty. He was educated in the Dehradun Military College (India) and in Sandhurst Military College (UK) and was commissioned in 1929. He was attached for a year to the Rifle Brigade and served in different positions for nearly eleven years with the 4th Battalion of 19 Hyderabad Regiment. During the Second World War, Azam Khan was posted as a staff officer of the combined operations in Arakan. He was assigned to train the soldiers combined operations at Verosova and Maud Island. He also attended a course at the Staff College. At the time of partition of India in 1947 Azam Khan was an Assistant Quarter Master General and was entrusted with the responsibility of a Brigade Commander in 1948. He was promoted to Major General in January 1950 and Lieutenant General in May 1954.

Lt. General Azam Khan was the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Lahore Garrison and was appointed Martial Law Administrator when Governor General Ghulam Mohammad called upon the army to bring the anti-Ahmadiya movement under control in 1953. He successfully restored law and order situation in Lahore. Azam Khan gave laudable leadership during the flood in the Punjab in 1953. He was one of the three senior generals of the Pakistan Army who helped Ayub Khan in staging his coup d'etat and declaring Martial Law in 1958. Ayub Khan took him into his cabinet as Senior Minister on 28 October 1958 and placed him in charge of the Department of Refugee Rehabilitation. Ayub Khan was appointed Governor of East Pakistan on 14 April and took oath of office on 15 April 1960.

Azam Khan acquired the love and respect of the people of East Pakistan by his personal behaviour and free mixing with of all classes of people. He worked hard for ameliorating the sufferings and rehabilitating the people of Chittagong and the adjoining areas seriously affected by cyclone and tidal bore which hit successively on 10 and 31 October 1960. For his gesture he was accorded a reception in Chittagong on 16 December 1960. He introduced 'East Pakistan Week' with a view to encouraging and patronizing the people in games and sports, cultural activities and exhibition of agricultural and industrial products. Azam Khan resigned from the post of Governor following a difference of opinion with President Ayub Khan on the issue of Basic Democracy system and other political issues. He left Dhaka on 10 May 1962. He was accorded a civic farewell reception on 9 May in the Dhaka Stadium in a mammoth gathering of thousands of people.

An electoral front named Combined Opposition Party (COP) was formed (20 July 1964) with the Muslim League (Council), Awami League, National Awami Party, Nizam-e- Islam and Jamat-e-Islami with a view to contesting in the presidential election scheduled to be held on 2 January 1965. Initially the COP leaders thought of nominating Azam Khan to oppose Ayub Khan in the presidential election. However, the final candidate was Ms. Fatima Jinnah, and Azam Khan launched campaign in East Pakistan in favour of Fatima Jinnah and gave full support to the COP. After the defeat of Fatima Jinnah in the election, Azam Khan announced his retirement from politics.

In his retired life Azam Khan lived in his Lahore residence and died there. [Abu Jafar]