Muhammad Musa Khan HPk HQA HI HJ MBE (Urdu: محمد موسی خان; 20 October 1908 – 12 March 1991) was a Pakistani four-star general who served as Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Pakistan Army from 1958 to 1966, under President Ayub Khan. Following his tenure as C-in-C of the Army, he later became a politician.

Muhammad Musa Khan
محمد موسی خان
General Musa, Circa 1935 in a British Uniform.jpg
Khan pictured during his service in the British Indian Army, c. 1935
4th Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army
In office
27 October 1958 – 17 June 1966
Preceded byGeneral Ayub Khan
Succeeded byGeneral Yahya Khan
4th Governor of West Pakistan
In office
18 September 1966 – 20 March 1969
PresidentAyub Khan
Preceded byAmir Mohammad
Succeeded byYusuf Haroon
10th Governor of Balochistan
In office
17 December 1985 – 12 March 1991
PresidentGhulam Ishaq Khan
Prime MinisterMuhammad Junejo
Benazir Bhutto
Nawaz Sharif
Preceded byGul Jogezai
Succeeded byLieutenant General K. K. Afridi
President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation
In office
Preceded byNaseer Ahmad
Succeeded byNur Khan
Personal details
Muhammad Musa Khan

(1908-10-20)20 October 1908
Quetta, Balochistan, British India
Died12 March 1991(1991-03-12) (aged 82)
Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan
Resting placeMashhad, Iran
36°18′N 59°36′E / 36.300°N 59.600°E / 36.300; 59.600Coordinates: 36°18′N 59°36′E / 36.300°N 59.600°E / 36.300; 59.600
Political partyIndependent
Pakistan Muslim League (1985–91)
Alma mater
OccupationMilitary officer, politician
Civilian awards
Military service
Years of service1926–1966
RankOF-9 Pakistan Army.svg US-O10 insignia.svg General
Unit 4th Hazara Pioneers, Frontier Force Regiment
Military awards

Gaining commission as a Second Lieutenant in the British Indian Army, Khan served with distinction in the Burma and North African campaigns as part of the Allied effort in World War II. Following the Partition of India in 1947, he opted for the Dominion of Pakistan, subsequently transferring his military service to the newly-created Pakistan Army. He led forward combat brigades against India during the First Kashmir War in 1947–1948, and eventually ascended the ranks to become C-in-C after the Pakistani military imposed martial law in the country following the 1958 coup d'état. Khan gained notability and public fame throughout Pakistan when he was in command of the Pakistan Army during the Second Kashmir War with India in 1965.

Khan retired shortly after the 1965 war and embarked on a career in national politics, after which he was appointed to serve as the Governor of West Pakistan, a position he held from 1966 to 1969. In 1985, he was appointed as the Governor of Balochistan and remained in office until his death in 1991.

Early life and military careerEdit

Musa Khan was born on 20 October 1908 in Quetta, Baluchistan, British India to ethnic Hazara family.[1][2] His family was Sardar (lit. Chief) of Hazara tribe and was the eldest son of Sardar Yazdan Khan who was the local Tribal chief.[3][better source needed]

Khan as Hockey player c. 1930

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.[4] He was selected to join the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun as a cadet in October 1932.[1] In 1935, he was commissioned from the IMA, Dehradun following a two years and six months long military training.[5] He was said to be an excellent sportsman and played hockey.[2]

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.[3] 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.[1] 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.[further explanation needed][3]

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."[1] In 1945, he was promoted as substantive captain and substantive major in 1946 and was serving with the Machine Gun battalion, 13th Frontier Force Rifles by October 1942.[6]

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 Manekshaw, future army chiefs 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.[1] In 1947 in the acting rank of Brigadier, he commanded the 103rd Infantry Brigade based in Sialkot brigade in Kashmir and served as commander of military units in the first war with India.[1] In 1948, he went on to command the 52nd Infantry Brigade positioned in Quetta.[7]

After the war in 1948, 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.[7]

Later Military CareerEdit

In 1950s, Musa Khan's commanding assignments included his role as the Commandant of the East Pakistan Rifles, and also having served as GOC of 14th Infantry Division in Dhaka, East Pakistan, in 1951.[3][7] In 1952, he last field assignment included his role as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 8th Infantry Division positioned in Quetta before stationed at the GHQ.[7] In 1957, he served as the Chief of General Staff and soon Deputy Commander-in-Chief (then the commander-in-chief of the army's deputy) in the rank of lieutenant-general at the Army GHQ.[7] 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.[8] Musa's 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."[8][9]

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.[10] President Ayub delegated the military affairs to General Musa Khan when heading the civic government.: 152 [10] 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.[11] 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 [12]

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.[13][14] General Musa Khan also had the support from President Ayub Khan on his views; however, the war began in 1965.[14] General Musa Khan did not order the Pakistan Army without the confirmation by President Ayub Khan despite Foreign Minister Bhutto's urging.: 182–183 [15] 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 [15] After reviewing the aerial view of the area and getting directions from President Ayub to make way for Maj General Yahya Khan, General Musa controversially relieved GOC Maj Gen 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 [16]

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.[8] He led and commanded the Pakistan Army in the largest tank battle, which earned him public fame.[17] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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 [19] News of the appointment was met with enthusiasm by the West Pakistani people.: 50 [19] 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 [20]

From 1969–84, he settled in Karachi while receiving a military pension.[1] In 1985, he became active in national politics on a Pakistan Muslim League platform led by Prime Minister M. K. Junejo.[1] He was appointed as Governor of Balochistan by the President Zia-ul-Haq after the general elections held in 1985.[21] 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 [22]

However, the Balochistan High Court restored the provincial assembly amid public condemnation of the Governor's move.: xxxiv [22] The step towards dissolving the assembly was believed to have been taken with the consent of the President and Prime Minister.: xxxiv [22]

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.[3] In his honor, the provincial Balochistan government established a vocational school, the General Muhammad Musa Inter-College (GMMIC), in Quetta, Pakistan in 1987.[23]

Post-1965 warEdit

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 events unfolded at GHQ, the C-in-C and the Supreme Commander Field Marshal Ayub Khan surprising India on 6 September 1965 in My Version[citation needed].

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Staff writer. "Dignitaries buried in the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (A.S.)". Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b Abbas, Hassan (26 March 2015). Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America's War on Terror. Routledge. ISBN 9781317463283. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Hazara The Best. "Great General Mussa Khan". Hazara The Best. Hazara The Best. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  4. ^ Rahimullah Yusufzai (20 January 2013). "The first priority is security". The News. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  5. ^ ISPR. "General Muhammad Musa". Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  6. ^ October 1942 MS Army List
  7. ^ a b c d e Army Museum. "GENERAL MUHAMMAD MUSA". Army Museum. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  8. ^ a b c Cloughley, Brian (5 January 2016). A History of the Pakistan Army: Wars and Insurrections. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. ISBN 9781631440397. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  9. ^ Brig A.R. Siddiqui. "Army's top slot: the seniority factor" Dawn, 25 April 2004
  10. ^ a b Shah, Aqil (21 April 2014). The Army and Democracy. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674419773. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  11. ^ PHF. "Pakistan Hockey Federation". Pakistan Hockey Federation. Pakistan Hockey Federation. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  12. ^ Musa, Mohammed (1985). Jawan to General: Recollections of a Pakistani Soldier. ABC Publishing House. p. 240. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  13. ^ Haider, Retired Air Commodore Sajjad (6 September 2015). "Straight shooting on the 1965 war". Dawn, Haider. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  14. ^ a b Gates, Scott; Roy, Kaushik (17 February 2016). Unconventional Warfare in South Asia: Shadow Warriors and Counterinsurgency. Routledge, Gates. ISBN 9781317005407. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  15. ^ a b Hiro, Dilip (24 February 2015). The Longest August: The Unflinching Rivalry Between India and Pakistan. Nation Books, Hiro. ISBN 9781568585031. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  16. ^ Baig, Muhammad Anwar; Ebad (20 December 2012). Pakistan: Time for Change. AuthorHouse, Baig. ISBN 9781477250310. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  17. ^ a b VSM, Brig Amar Cheema (31 March 2015). The Crimson Chinar: The Kashmir Conflict: A Politico Military Perspective. Lancer Publishers. ISBN 9788170623014. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  18. ^ Wiarda, Howard J. (2005). Comparative Politics: The politics of Asia. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780415330954. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  19. ^ a b Singh, Ravi Shekhar Narain Singh (2008). The Military Factor in Pakistan. Lancer Publishers. ISBN 9780981537894. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  20. ^ Jalal, Ayesha (16 September 2014). The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674744998. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  21. ^ name="Hazara The Best"
  22. ^ a b c Burki, Shahid Javed (19 March 2015). Historical Dictionary of Pakistan. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442241480. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  23. ^ Hussaini, Ali Aosat. "About College". Musa College. Retrieved 20 October 2016.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of West Pakistan
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Khushdil Khan Afridi
Governor of Balochistan
Succeeded by