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Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army

The Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army (reporting name: C-in-C) was normally the highest-ranking officer in the Pakistan Army from the country's independence to 1972.:105[2] The C-in-C was directly responsible for commanding the army. It was an administrative position and the appointment holder had main operational command authority over the army.

Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg
Flag of the Pakistan Army
Ministry of Defence
Army Secretariat-I at MoD[1]
SeatArmy GHQ
Rawalpindi Cantonment in Punjab, Pakistan
NominatorGovernor General of Pakistan, Prime Minister or President of Pakistan
AppointerGovernor General of Pakistan, Prime Minister or President of Pakistan
FormationAugust 15, 1947; 72 years ago (1947-08-15)
First holderGen. Frank Messervy
Final holderLt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan
Abolished3 March 1972
SuccessionChief of Army Staff
DeputyDeputy Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army
Chief of General Staff
WebsiteOfficial website

Direct appointments to the command of the Pakistan Army came from the British Army Council until 1951, when the first native commander-in-chief was nominated and appointed by the Government of Pakistan.:24[3]

The C-in-C was assisted by a deputy C-in-C until the late 1960s. The last deputy C-in-C was Abdul Hamid Khan, who served until 1969. The C-in-C designation was changed to 'Chief of Army Staff' in 1972, Tikka Khan was the first person to hold the new title. Six men have served as C-in-C, the first two of them were native British and the post was largely akin to the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army.[4][5][6][7][6][8]


Prior to creation of Pakistan from the partition of India on 14 August 1947, the senior military general officer commanding of the Pakistan Army were the ad-hoc appointments made by the Army Board of the British Army.[9]

The appointment was known as Commander-in-Chief who directly reported to the Governor-General who was also under British monarchs.:105[10] Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck was the last Commander-in-Chief of the undivided British Indian Army who became the supreme commander of India and Pakistan in 15 August 1947 serving till November 30 of the year.:105[10] On 15 August General Frank Messervy became the first C-in-C of the Pakistan Army.

In 1969, when General Yahya Khan became President of Pakistan, the then deputy commander-in-chief of the army Lieutenant General Abdul Hamid Khan was promoted to full General and was appointed as the 'Chief of Staff of the Army', a newly created post which was akin to Chief of Staff of the United States Army.:contents[6] On 20 March 1972, the commander-in-chief post was renamed as "Chief of Army Staff (COAS)" with Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan elevated to four star rank to be appointed as army's first chief of army staff.:62[11]

The term of the superannuation was then constrained to three years in the office as opposed to four years and was made a permanent member of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.:62[11]

List of Commanders-in-ChiefEdit

# Picture Name Rank Start of tenure End of tenure Notes
1   Frank MesservyFrank Messervy General General August 15, 1947 February 10, 1948 The first Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army who took command in the rank of Acting General.
2   Douglas GraceyDouglas Gracey General General February 11, 1948 January 16, 1951 The second and last British person to hold the C-in-C title, served as an acting full general.
3   Ayub KhanAyub Khan General General January 17, 1951 October 27, 1958 The first native Pakistani person to be the C-in-C, also the first chief to become President of the country. He was a self promoted Field Marshal after becoming the President.[12]
4   Ayub KhanMusa Khan General General October 27, 1958 September 17, 1966 C-in-C during the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and also the longest serving officer to hold the post (8 years).
5   Yahya KhanYahya Khan General General September 18, 1966 December 20, 1971 Last C-in-C of unified West Pakistan and East Pakistan and also served as President of the country from 1969 to 1971.
6 Gul Hassan KhanGul Hassan Khan Lieutenant-General Lieutenant General December 20, 1971 March 2, 1972 First C-in-C of the Pakistan Army after the secession of East Pakistan, serving till 1972 in the rank of lieutenant general.


  1. ^ MoD, Ministry of Defence. "Organogram of MoD" (PDF). Ministry of Defence (Pakistan). Ministry of Defence Press. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  2. ^ Bajwa, Kuldip Singh (2003). "Kashmir Valley saved". Jammu and Kashmir War, 1947-1948: Political and Military Perspective (googlebooks) (1st ed.). New Delhi, India: Har-Anand Publications. p. 320. ISBN 9788124109236. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  3. ^ Harmon, Daniel E. (2008). Pervez Musharraf: President of Pakistan: Easyread Super Large 20pt Edition. ISBN 9781427092038. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  4. ^ Cheema, Pervaiz Iqbal (2002). "Defence Administration". The Armed Forces of Pakistan (google books) (1st ed.). New York, U.S.: NYU Press. p. 225. ISBN 9780814716335. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  5. ^ Shabbir, Usman (2003). "Command and Structure control of the Pakistan Army". PakDef Military Consortium. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Cloughley, Brian (2016). A History of the Pakistan Army: Wars and Insurrections. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. ISBN 9781631440397. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Pakistan: Army and Paramilitary Forces". Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  8. ^ "The Army Chief's". Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  9. ^ Lenze Jr (2016). Civil–Military Relations in the Islamic World. Lexington Books. ISBN 9781498518741. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  10. ^ a b Bajwa, Kuldip Singh (2003). "Kashmir Valley Saved". Jammu and Kashmir war, 1947-1948 : political and military perspective (google books) (1st ed.). New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications. p. 350. ISBN 9788124109236. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  11. ^ a b Singh, Ravi Shekhar Narain Singh (2008). "Military and Politics". The Military Factor in Pakistan (googlebooks) (1st ed.). London, UK: Lancer Publishers. p. 550. ISBN 9780981537894. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Gen. Ayub becomes President". Dawn. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2017.