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General Muhammad Musa Khan (Urdu: جنرل محمد موسی خان ہزارہ) (20 October 1908 – 12 March 1991), HPk, HQA, HI, HJ, MBE, was a four-star rank Army General, politician, and the Commander in Chief of Pakistan Army, serving under President Ayub Khan from 1958 until 1966.
Gaining commission as an officer in the British Indian Army, he served with distinction in the World War II on the side of United Kingdom and opted for Pakistan as an aftermath of partition of British India in 1947. He served to command the combat brigades in war with India over Kashmir in 1947 and eventually ascended as the Commander in Chief after the military martial law enforced in 1958. He earned notability and public fame when he commanded the Pakistan Army after the second war with India in 1965.
Musa Khan shortly retired after the war and embarked his career in national politics when he was appointed to serve as Governor of West-Pakistan from 1966 until 1969. In 1985, he was appointed as Governor of Balochistan and remained in office until he died in 1991.
Muhammad Musa Khan was born on 20 October 1908 in Quetta, Baluchistan, British India into a Hazara family. His family was Sardar (lit. Chief) of Hazara Tribe and was the eldest son of Sardar Yazdan Khan who was the local Tribal chief.
After his schooling, he was recruited to the British Indian Army as a Jawan in 1926 and eventually joined the 4th Hazara Pioneers after being promoted as the Naik– a non-commissioned officer in the British Indian Army. He was selected to join the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun as a cadet in October 1932. In 1935, he graduated from the Indian Military Academy and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1935. He was said to be an excellent sportsman and played Hockey.:35
In 1936, he was posted to the 6th Royal Battalion of the 13th Frontier Force Rifles as a Platoon Commander and saw actions in the violent Waziristan campaign in 1936 till 1938. He participated well in the World War II on the side of the United Kingdom and served well in the Burma Campaign and North African theatre as part of the Norfolk Regiment of the British Indian Army. In Middle East, he led the company and was listed in mentioned in despatches for "distinguished services in the Middle East during the period February to July 1941" and in the London Gazette 30 December 1941 as a Lieutenant and acting Major.
In 1942, his heroic action for valor won him the praise and was appointed as Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for "gallant and distinguished services in the Middle East." In 1945, he was promoted as army captain and major in 1946 and was serving with the Machine Gun battalion, 13th Frontier Force Rifles by October 1942.
During his time at the Indian Military Academy, Musa was selected as part of the first batch of cadets. Called "The Pioneers", his class also produced Smith Dun and Sam Maneckshaw, future commanders-in-chief of Burma and India, respectively.
After the partition of British India that followed the establishment of Pakistan in 1947, he opted for Pakistan and joined the Pakistan Army as a staff officer. In 1947, he, as Brigadier, commanded the 103rd Infantry Brigade based in Sialkot brigade in Kashmir and served as commander of military units in the first war with India. In 1948, he went on to command the 52nd Infantry Brigade positioned in Quetta.
After the war in 1948, General Musa studied and graduated from the Command and Staff College in Quetta and proceeded to attend the Imperial Defence College in United Kingdom prior to his graduation.
In 1950s, Musa Khan's commanding assignments included his role as the Chief of Staff of the East Pakistan Rifles, and also having served as GOC of 14th Infantry Division in Dhaka, East Pakistan, in 1951. In 1952, he last field assignment included his role as commander of 8th Infantry Division positioned in Quetta before stationed at the GHQ. In 1957, he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff and later Chief of Staff at the Army GHQ. His career progressed well in the army and was ascended as Commander-in-Chief by President Ayub Khan in 1958 when the latter disposed President Iskander Mirza who imposed martial law in 1958.
Major-General Musa Khan never achieved the three-star appointment nor promotion as lieutenant-general was approved at the time of his nomination towards appointed as the army commander-in-chief. His promotion to the four-star appointment came with controversy in the country as many saw that his appointment was based on "dependability rather than merit." There were three staff officers in line who were senior to Major-General Musa Khan that included: Major General Sher Ali Pataudi, Major General Latif Khan and Major General Adam Khan– all Sandhurst graduates of 1933.
In October 1958, Musa Khan was elevated as four-star general and appointed as Commander in Chief with Ayub Khan promoting himself as Field Marshal. President Ayub delegated the military affairs to General Musa Khan when heading the civic government.:152 In 1960, he was appointed to serve as the President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation which he remained in the post until being retired in 1966. It was during his stint as president when the Hockey Team won its first Gold Medal against the Indian Hockey Team in the Summer Olympics in Rome in 1960.:146
The 1965 WarEdit
In 1964, he became aware of covert operation studied by the Foreign ministry led by Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and presented views against the operation due to no linkage between the covert actions and the conventional backup. General Musa Khan also had the support from President Ayub Khan on his views; however, the war began in 1965. General Musa Khan did not order the Pakistan Army without the confirmation by President Ayub Khan despite Foreign Minister Bhutto's urging.:182–183 After the Indian Army moved to the Rann of Kutch, General Musa Khan ordered Army GHQ to respond to the Indian Army by moving the 12th Division.:183 After reviewing the aerial view of the area and getting directions from President Ayub to make way for Maj General Yahya, General Musa controversially relieved GOC Akhtar Hussain Malik and handed over the command of the 12th Division to Major-General Yahya Khan, which resulted in critical time delays of troop movements and eventual failure of the operation.:25–27
About the failure due to command change, General Musa Khan justified his actions that he had not had time to select a commander or staff despite the authority given to him. He led and commanded the Pakistan Army in the largest tank battle, which earned him public fame. His strategy based on classical trench method supported by armory, artillery and airpower was tactically powerful and successful as it stopped the advancing Indian Army but politically unsuccessful due to the country being party of the peace treaty brokered by the USSR in 1965.
General Musa's military service is unique due to the fact that he had received two extension as a Commander-in-chief from the period of 1958 till 1966. Upon his retirement, General Musa did not recommend Yahya Khan's nomination as Commander-in-chief and Yahya's name was not included in the list of nomination sent to President Ayub Khan; nonetheless, General Musa was succeeded by General Yahya Khan as Commander in Chief.:725
About the war with India in 1965, General Musa provided his views and testimonies in two books written on military history of Pakistan Army: first being the "My Version" and the second being the "Jawan to General".
At the time of his retirement in 1966, General Musa Khan was a famed and popular military figure which led President Ayub Khan to appoint him as the Governor of West Pakistan.:50–51 News of the appointment was met with enthusiasm by the West Pakistani people.:50 In 1967, he became Governor of West Pakistan until submitting his resignation on 2 March 1969 when General Yahya Khan imposed martial law to takeover the presidency.:136
From 1969–84, he settled in Karachi while receiving a military pension. In 1985, he became active in national politics on a Pakistan Muslim League platform led by Prime Minister M. K. Junejo. He was appointed as Governor of Balochistan by the President Zia-ul-Haq after the general elections held in 1985. After the general elections held in 1988, Governor Musa Khan controversially dissolved the provincial assembly on the then-Chief Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali's advice.:xxxiv
However, the Balochistan High Court restored the provincial assembly amid public condemnation of the Governor's move.:xxxiv The step towards dissolving the assembly was believed to have been taken with the consent of the President and Prime Minister.:xxxiv
On 12 March 1991, General Musa Khan died while in office and per accordance to his wishes, he was buried in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan, Iran. In his honor, the provincial Balochistan government established a vocational school, the General Muhammad Musa Inter-College (GMMIC), in Quetta, Pakistan in 1987.
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About the war with India in 1965, General Musa provided his views and testimonies in two books written on military history of Pakistan Army: the first being My Version and the second being Jawan to General. General Mohammad Musa, who commanded the Army in the '65 war, gave his account of how the Indians surprised the GHQ, the C-in-C and the Supreme Commander Field Marshal Ayub Khan on 6 September 1965 in My Version.
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Ayub being a Hindko speaking Pathan, Musa being a Persian speaking Mongol-Hazara and Yahya being a Persian speaking Qizilbash. Tikka was the first Punjabi chief of the army.
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| Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army
Mian Naseer Ahmed
| President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation
Amir Mohammad Khan
Nawab of Kalabagh
| Governor of West Pakistan
Khushdil Khan Afridi
| Governor of Balochistan
Hazar Khan Khoso
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Muhammad Musa Khan Hazara.|