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Muhammad Musa

Muhammad Musa
10th Governor of Balochistan
In office
17 December 1985 – 12 March 1991
President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo
Benazir Bhutto
Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi
Navaz Sharif
Preceded by Sardar Gul Mohammad Khan Jogezai
Succeeded by Lieutenant General Khushdil Khan Afridi
4th Governor of West Pakistan
In office
18 September 1966 – 20 March 1969
President Field Marshal Ayub Khan
4th Army Commander-in-Chief
In office
18 September 1966 – 20 March 1969
Preceded by Field Marshal Ayub Khan
Succeeded by General Yahya Khan
Personal details
Born Muhammad Musa Khan Hazara
(1908-10-20)20 October 1908
Quetta City, Baluchistan, British India
Died 12 March 1991(1991-03-12) (aged 82)
Quetta City Balochistan Province
Nationality Pakistani
Political party None (Military Governorship)
Spouse(s) Begum Gul-Shah Musa
Relations Sardar Yazdan Khan
Children Ibrahim Musa, Uzra Chengezi, Hassan Musa, Mariyam Musa, Zainab Ali
Alma mater Indian Military Academy
Religion Islam
Awards Hilal-i-Jurat
Order of the British Empire
Military service
Allegiance  India
Service/branch  Indian Army
 Pakistan Army
Years of service 1926–1966
Rank General
Unit 4th Hazara Pioneers
Frontier Force Regiment
National Guard of Pakistan
Commands Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army
General Officer Commanding, East Pakistan.
Deputy Chief of Staff

World War II

Indo-Pakistan War of 1947
Indo-Pakistan War of 1965

General Muhammad Musa Khan Hazara H.Pk., HJ, HQA, MBE, IDC, psc (موسى خان) (1908–1991), was the fourth Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army (1958–1966). He succeeded Field Marshal Ayub Khan, who took over the Presidency of Pakistan in the 1958 Pakistani coup d'état. After retirement from the Pakistan Army, he served as fourth Governor of the erstwhile West Pakistan Province (1966 to 1969) and the tenth Governor of Balochistan Province (1985 to 1991). He died in office as Governor of Balochistan in 1991.


  • Early life and military career 1
  • Senior appointments 2
  • Political career 3
  • Career with Pakistan Army 4
  • Operation Gibraltar 5
  • Photo gallery 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life and military career

He was the eldest son of Sardar Yazdan Khan,[1] born in a Muslim, Hazara family hailing from Quetta, Pakistan. Khan was from the Sardar family of the Hazara tribe. Musa Khan was initially recruited to the British Indian Army as a 'Jawan' or Sepoy at the age of 18 in 1926. He was a "Naik" (junior non-commissioned officer) in the 4th Hazara Pioneers when he was selected to train at the Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun as a cadet in October 1932. He was commissioned with the first batch of the cadets as an Second Lieutenant (Indian Commissioned Officer) on 1 February 1935. He was posted to the 6th Royal Battalion of the 13th Frontier Force Rifles as a Platoon Commander in 1936. He took part in the Waziristan Operations in 1936–1938 and in World War II. He was assigned to lead the 'D' Company. He was mentioned in despatches for "distinguished services in the Middle East during the period February to July 1941" in the London Gazette 30 December 1941 as a Lieutenant & acting Major. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (Military division) in the London Gazette 16 April 1942 for "gallant and distinguished services in the Middle East during the period July to October 1941". He was then serving as a Captain and temporary Major. He was serving with the Machine Gun battalion, 13th Frontier Force Rifles by October 1942. [2] Following the partition of India, he opted for the Pakistan Army in 1947.

Musa, in a British Uniform 1935

Senior appointments

He served with distinction in the Pakistani Army and rose to the rank of the commander in chief of Pakistani Armed Forces during President Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan's regime (1958–1969). His promotion to commander-in-chief (he succeeded Field Marshal Ayub Khan) saw suppression of seniors: Major General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi, Major General Latif Khan and Major General Adam Khan, all Sandhurst graduates of 1933.[3]

Political career

After General Musa retired from the army, President Ayub Khan appointed him as the Governor of West Pakistan from 1967 to 1969. After serving for a few years, he retired and settled in Karachi. In 1985, appointed as the Governor of Balochistan by the then President General Zia-ul-Haq. In 1988 Governor General Musa dissolved the provincial assembly on the then Chief Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali's advice. However, the Balochistan High Court restored the assembly amid public condemnation of Governor's move. The step towards dissolving the assembly was believed to have been taken with the consent of the President and Prime Minister.

Career with Pakistan Army

General Mohammed Musa commanded the Army in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, and had overall responsibility for operations throughout the conflict. As Army Chief, he was criticised for not anticipating an assault across the international border. However he was given credit for blunting the Indian offensive towards Sialkot during the Battle of Chawinda. He has narrated the events and experiences of the war in his book "My Version". In the book he has given accounts of the secret war that was going on in Kashmir between the two countries, long before the real war actually began.

General Muhammad Musa is the author of his autobiography, Jawan to General in which he describes his lifetime experiences from a simple foot-soldier rising to become a general.

Operation Gibraltar

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. Narrates Musa in his book "My Version":

India started the war at about 0330 hours on 6 September. The Supreme Commander was informed about the invasion by Air Commander Akhtar of the Pakistan Air Force, who was on duty at the Air Defence Headquarters at Rawalpindi on night of 5–6 September. Indian troop movements cross the frontier had been reported to him by the border posts of the PAF Wireless Observer wing. The President then rang me up to ascertain whether or not GHQ had received any information about the Indian attack and the whereabouts of the field army that morning.

General Musa describes the genesis of the surprise Indian attack on 6 September in his own words: The then Foreign Minister Mr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and the Foreign Secretary, Aziz Ahmed spurred on by Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik, who was commander of our troops in Azad Kashmir, pressed the Government to take advantage of the disturbed situation in the valley and direct the Army to send raiders into Indian held Kashmir for conducting guerrilla activities there and to help, on a long term basis, the locals in organizing a movement with a view to eventually starting an uprising against the occupying power.

Continues the former C-in-C in his book, the sponsors and supporters of the raids had at last succeeded in persuading the President to take the plunge that led to an all-out armed conflict with India' .......

The concept of sending infiltrators in the Indian held Kashmir, code named Gibraltar was the brain-child of the ministry of Foreign Affairs but General Musa assumed full responsibility for the development of the concept, its planning and co-ordination of the entire operation. He says:

After the Government finally decided that deep raids should be launched in Indian-held Kashmir, I directed Commander 12 Division, Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik, to prepare a draft plan for the operation, code-named 'Gibraltar' in consultation with GHQ and within the broad concept we had specified. GHQ approved it after making certain changes in it. With the help of sand model, he went over the final plan in Murree before it was put into effect on 7 August 1965 under our overall control. The Supreme Commander and his Military Secretary were present. He also agreed with it. I was accompanied by the CGS (Major General Sher Bahadur) and the Directors of Military Operations and Intelligence Brigadiers Gul Hasan and Irshad Ahmed Khan respectively. No civil official attended this briefing.

Broadly the plan envisaged, on a short-term basis, sabotage of military targets, disruptions of communications, etc. and, as a long-term measure, distribution of arms to the people of occupied Kashmir and initiation of a guerrilla movement there with a view to starting an uprising in the valley eventually. The push towards Akhnur was not part of it. However, it was considered as one of the likely operations that we might have to undertake, as we felt our activities would have an escalating effect.

Nevertheless, when the Indians started attacking and capturing Azad Kashmir territory in Tithwal and Haji Pir Pass areas, we decided to hold them in these places and retaliate by threatening Akhnur through the Chamb valley to release the pressure in the north.

The simple truth emerging from the preceding statement of General Musa is clear in that, while the concept of 'Gibraltar' did originate from the ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Musa, whatever he might say after the event, went along with it in a half heartedly and non serious manner leading to the downfall of President of Pakistan General Ayub Khan via Tashkent Agreement.

The loser in the final analysis was Pakistan, described so feelingly by General K.M. Arif in an analysis carried by "Daily Dawn", 6 September 1990. How and why Pakistan blundered into war .......... At that time, the policy making in the country was highly personalized. The institutions were weak and by-passed. Pakistan's Foreign Office with Mr. Aziz Ahmed as the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Z.A. Bhutto as the Foreign Minister called the martial tunes. It had miscalculated that despite operation Gibraltar, the fighting was likely to remain confined inside the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Foreign Office is on record to have assessed that India was not in a position to risk a general war with Pakistan......for inexplicable reasons the General Headquarters based its operational plan in Kashmir on a wishful logic. The misplaced ego, the high ambition and the naive approach of a selected few, plunged Pakistan into an armed conflict. The outcome of the war, or the lack of it, eclipsed Ayub Khan's position.

At a briefing arranged at SSG Parachute Training School at Peshawar in the presence of two senior officers, Lt. Col. Abdul Matin, the Commander of No. 1 Commando Battalion, now retired and the brilliant Operations Staff Officer Maj. E. H. Dar, (Later Major General E. H. Dar) the Air Force Chief was told that only a pre-emptive operation like the Israeli crippling raids against the front line Arab states' air bases as in 1956 Arab-Israel War, could have probability of success. To this, the Air Chief observed that a decision to carry out pre-emptive operation as suggested could only be taken by the Government (meaning President Ayub Khan). Technically the observation made was correct but in that case the operation should have been based on the hypothesis of pre-emptive alone. There was also objection by the Military Operations experts to the dropping of para commandos in Kashmir with no equivalent of French Maquis to hide, feed and organise their escape and was tantamount to suicide.

General Musa Khan, Field Marshal Ayub Khan's C-in-C, was the archetype of the loyal commander. But after him Ayub appointed another favourite, Yahya Khan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto set up a 'Liberation Cell', which included people like:

  • Mr Aziz Ahmed
  • Mr Nazir Ahmed
  • Mr Ayub Buksh Awan
  • Mr NA Farooqi
  • Mr Ahmed
  • Mr Altaf Goher (although the latter did not attend any of the meetings)

General Musa, Commander in Chief of the Pakistan Army at that time, confirms the existence of this 'Cell', which was set up in August 1964. The majority of the members of this 'Cell' were from the 'Qadiani sect’, he pointed out.

When this ambitious plan was first sent to the GHQ, General Musa opposed it and wrote the following points to the President Ayub Khan:

  • Guerrilla war in Kashmir can only be successful if the people of Kashmir take part in it, and in my opinion we need more time to prepare people for this.
  • During the guerrilla war if India realised that it is losing the war in Kashmir, she will attack Pakistan.
  • As long as Pakistan is not in a position to defeat India militarily, we should not venture such operation in Kashmir.
  • To defeat India we need more army, better arms and better training.

General Musa asked for money to set up two more army divisions to face the challenge. General Ayub in principle agreed with this idea, but the Finance Minister Mr Shoaib persuaded him against this by saying that the Pakistan economy cannot afford it. And this idea was dropped. It is ironic that no such army was raised before the start of the ‘Operation Gibraltar’ or during its operations, but after the war, in the same month, two divisions were set up.

According to Brigadier (R) Farooq, General Musa was a simple man. He gave his opinion about the 'Operation' and then did not make it a matter of pride and remained quiet. If he and General Sher Bahadur who also opposed the idea, had resigned then there would have been no 'Operation Gibraltar'.

A top level meeting was held at the Headquarters of the 12th Division in May 1965. Once again, General Musa opposed the plan, and to this President Ayub Khan said: "Musa I have been assured by the Foreign Office that India would not be involved in a full scale war". When both General Musa and General Sher Bahadur said that if we are to start a guerrilla war at that level, it is very likely that India would react and attack Pakistan. President Ayub Khan reacted by saying: "We will have to take heart sometime".

Apart from the assurance to which President Ayub Khan made reference that India would not attack Pakistan, Pakistani planners of this ‘Operation’ were led to believe that India is not in a position to launch attack against Pakistan until 1966 or 1967. It was emphasised that we do not waste any more time, and start our action as soon as possible.

Musa says in his book, 'My Version' that the Kashmiris of the Valley were not taken into confidence about the ‘Operation’ that was to be started to liberate them. He wrote:

We had not even consulted the public leaders across the cease fire line about our aims and intentions, let alone associating them with our planning for the clandestine war...

The people of the area to be 'liberated' must have to be taken into confidence, if the people organising this gigantic task really meant business. Without the help of the local people outside army cannot win a war or even survive. Not only the people of Kashmir living on the other side of the cease fire line were not taken into confidence, also the people of Azad Kashmir, even the Azad Kashmir Government was not taken into confidence. When the ‘Operation’ was put into practice then the planners realised the need to have some Kashmiri support. They already had set up a Liberation Council, and compelled by circumstances they announced that Choudhry Ghulam Abbass was leading this Liberation Council.

Choudhry Ghulam Abbass was already very annoyed with this, he immediately rejected that in a news statement in the Daily Nawa E Waqat the following day:

"I have nothing to do with all this, and I did not know anything about an 'Operation'."

General Musa confirms the above position, he said:

"Because of the haste with which the ‘Operation’ was launched, even Azad Kashmir leaders were not taken into confidence by the advocates of Guerrilla raids. Helplessly they remained in the background. Their co-operation was also very necessary and would have been very helpful. They could have assisted the mujahideen in various ways by themselves."

K H Khurshid, who was the secretary to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and also Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir Government commented:

"I firmly believe that Ayub Khan was not fully aware of the reasons for the war of 1965. Foreign Office, Home Ministry and some senior officers from the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs which included A B Awan, Nazir Ahmed, Aziz Ahmed and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, prevailed on him and assured him that it is only a small programme which would not lead to a war with India. Ayub Khan who offered India ‘joint defence’ would not have agreed to a full scale war with India.... These men wanted to weaken Ayub’s hold on the government, and this is the real reason why he was so angry with them after the war."

Ayub Khan was assured by his advisors and the Foreign Minister, Z.A. Bhutto, that India would not cross the international boundary to attack Pakistan. The Indian leaders and ministers were clearly saying that if Pakistan did not stop its adventure in Kashmir, then the conflict could spread to other areas. But Pakistani leaders did not take these threats seriously until the direct Indian attack on the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Sialkot to release the pressure on the retreating Indian forces in Kashmir.

Some critics say that the operation was "deliberately miss-planned to topple or weaken Ayub Khan". This has been very controversial, but whatever its real motives, it resulted in a full scale war between India and Pakistan. The Security Council arranged a cease fire on 23 September 1965.

General (R) Musa Khan died on 12 March 1991 in Quetta.

Photo gallery

There is also a college named "General Muhammad Musa Inter College Quetta" in Quetta city of Pakistan

See also


  1. ^ Rahimullah Yusufzai (20 January 2013). "The first priority is security". The News. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  2. ^ October 1942 MS Army List
  3. ^ Brig A.R. Siddiqui. "Army's top slot: the seniority factor" Dawn, 25 April 2004

External links

  • Official profile at Pakistan Army website
  • = Iftekhar Hussaini
Military offices
Preceded by
Ayub Khan
Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army
Succeeded by
Yahya Khan
Political offices
Preceded by
Amir Mohammad Khan
Nawab of Kalabagh
Governor of West Pakistan
Succeeded by
Yusuf Haroon
Preceded by
Khushdil Khan Afridi
Governor of Balochistan
Succeeded by
Hazar Khan Khoso
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