Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan Of Pakistan (1920–2016)

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S. Iftikhar Murshed*

In the passing of Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan, the country has lost a statesman of towering international stature. The New York Times described him in 1999 as “the most skilful diplomat of the world today.” Yaqub-Khan once delivered an address on ‘Diplomacy as a problem in epistemology,’ a few weeks later he received a letter from Richard Nixon in which the US president described him as “the most astute geopolitical thinker alive. Having met you, I believe this was an understatement.”1

Though a scion of the erstwhile princely house of Rampur in India,2 he chose an action-filled life replete with adventure and high drama.The story of his life, like a Russian novel, is spread over a vast canvass encompassing wars, revolutions and events that had a transformational impact on global geopolitics. The twentieth century was the most violent and bloodiest in human history and its fires also singed Yaqub-Khan.

On many an occasion, particularly during the period that I served as the director general of his office from 1989-90, the three-time foreign minister of Pakistan and I spent hours discussing matters relating to the country’s external policies. In the course of those unforgettable moments, he would analyse and explain some of the intricate issues of the times. His was a razor-edge intellect and the profundity of his pronouncements seldom failed to exercise an imperishable authority over the minds of his interlocutors.

During our conversations, Foreign Minister Yaqub-Khan seldom spoke about himself but he would sometimes reminisce about the bygone years. He would often say that in life one has to navigate across  and far between moments of “tumultuous seas” and there were only few and far between moments of tranquillity. One of his favourite writers was Goethe, and, some years later I came across these words of the German poet-philosopher: “A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world’s torrent.” This seemed to be the distillate of Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan’s own life.

His formative years were spent in Rampur where his father, Sahabzada Sir Abdus Samad Khan Bahadur, a statesman and diplomat who, in the course of a varied career, served as British India’s representative to the League of Nations, and, as the chief minister of the state. This was the short-lived period of “stillness” in Yaqub-Khan’s stormy and eventful life. It was during these years that he became a voracious reader, a habit he acquired from his grandfather, Abdus Salam Khan, who maintained one of Rampur’s largest libraries.

In the twilight years of the Mughal Empire, his family connections can be traced to the preeminent Urdu poet, perhaps of all times, Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869) who was appointed tutor to the Nawab of Rampur in 1857. Ghalib visited the princely state twice, in 1860 and 1865 i.e., four years before his death.3 Yaqub-Khan inherited the love of Urdu literature from his family but it was the profundity of Ghalib’s verses that affected him the most. To him the poems were almost like a perpetual song where thought and form were in articulate harmony.

From the deserts of Libya to the banks of the Buriganga

After Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan had completed his studies at the Colonel Brown Cambridge School and then at the Prince of Wales Royal Military College (subsequently renamed Rashtriya Indian Military College) in Dehradun, he was admitted to the Royal Indian Military Academy. He was commissioned on 22 December 1940 – a day before his twentieth birthday – and was assigned to the elite 18thKing Edward’s Own Cavalry. Unbeknownst to him this was to be the first of three defining moments of his life.

The curtain raiser to the Second World War was the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, and, two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany. A global conflagration was thus ignited, and,the 18th Cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Howard Fowler, who had replaced Lieutenant Colonel H.M. Tulloch, sailed for the Middle East theatre in January 1941 and disembarked in Egypt.The regiment’s senior most Viceroy Commissioned Officer (VCO) was Risaldar Major Kapur Singh.4

The 18th Cavalry was an integral part of the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade initially commanded by Brigadier E.W.D. Vaughan and then by Brigadier Filose. In the Middle East campaign, it grouped with two other elite cavalry regiments – the 2nd Royal Lancers also known as Gardner’s Horse and the 11th Prince Albert Victor’s Own (PAVO) Cavalry – and was supported by the 2nd Field Regiment of Indian Artillery. Over and above this arrangement, volunteers from the three cavalry regiments formed the squadron-strength Indian Long Range Scouts commanded by Major Samuel Vallis McCoy and consisted of the J (Jat), R (Rajput), M (Muslim) and S (Sikh) patrols.5

This was the structure of the formation in which Second Lieutenant Yaqub-Khan, who had been commissioned barely a month earlier, served and fought during the Second World War. He was assigned to ‘A’ Squadron commanded by Captain J.M. Barlow and took part at the siege of Tobruk and the battle of El Mechili.6 The 1967 film “Tobruk” starring Rock Hudson and George Peppard is a fictionalised account of one of the operations for the capture of the port city.

Sahabzada Yaqub Khan must have found comfort at the warfront from his comrades in arms with similar backgrounds. He was not the only young soldier from an aristocratic family in the British-India army that fought in the Middle East theatre. His closest associate in the 18thCavalry, Second Lieutenant Abhey Singh, was from the princely state of Kota where his father, Major General Sir Onkar Singh, like that of Yaqub-Khan, was also prime minister.

There were also other officers from different regiments within the formation from aristocratic families. Thus Major Rajendrasinhji Jadeja, the first Indian soldier to be awarded the Distinguished Service Order, commanding B Squadron of the 2nd Lancers (Gardner’s Horse), was from the princely state of Nawanagar. He eventually rose to become the Chief of Staff of the Indian Army from 1953 to 1955. Similarly, Lieutenant Sardar Hissamuddin Mahmud El-Effendi, a scion of the Afghan royal family, was assigned to the 11th PAVO Cavalry. In later years, Yaqub-Khan and Effendi – both polo enthusiasts – were to frequently display their skills at the Lahore Polo Club alongside such famous players as Colonel ‘Huskey’ Baig and Colonel Sikku Baig.7

For Yaqub-Khan, the 1941 siege of the port city of Tobruk was his baptism of fire. The events leading to the siege were set in motion when the Axis forces advanced through the eastern Libyan region of Cyrenaica from the coastal town of El Agheila in Operation Sonnenblume against the British Western Desert Force (WDF). Earlier, towards the end of 1940, the British had routed the Italian 10th Army and had briefly captured El Agheila while trapping the remnant force at the small town of Beda Fomm during the two-month-long Operation Compass from 9 December 1940 to 9 February 1941. The exigencies of war are unpredictable. The British were suddenly compelled to urgently send most the WDF to Greece in order to confront the Axis invasion of that country. As a consequence, only a skeletal force short of equipment and supplies remained in the Libyan front.8

This gave the legendary Lieutenant General (later Field Marshal) Erwin Rommel, popularly known as the ‘Desert Fox,’ the opportunity he had been waiting for. He quickly launched Operation Sonnenblume from 6 February to 25 May 1941. Within days Rommel’s Afrika Korps retook El Agheila and the British were forced to retreat towards the Egyptian Border. A garrison was left behind at Tobruk in order to deny the port to the Axis, while the allied forces reorganised and prepared a counteroffensive.

It was at this point in the desert war that Yaqub-Khan’s 3rd Indian Motor Brigade reached the front in late March with lorries but no tanks, artillery, anti-tank guns and only half its wireless sets; the brigade was later to move towards Mechili. The Axis siege of Tobruk began on 10 April when Rommel’s forces attacked the port city. In the 241 days that the siege lasted, there were three relief attempts: Operation Brevity (15–16 May), Operation Battle-axe (15–17 June) and Operation Crusader (18 November – 30 December). It was during Operation Crusader, that the British 8th Army succeeded in relieving Tobruk on 27 November.9 This was primarily because Rommel decided to abandon the siege on being told that supplies could not reach his forces till the end of December.

The term ‘siege of Tobruk’ used by military historians is technically incorrect because the defenders of the city were still able to receive supplies and reinforcements through the port.10 The allied occupation of Tobruk was important inasmuch as it not only diverted German and Italian troops from the Egyptian frontier but also denied them a supply port near the Egypt-Libya border. It was for this reason that Rommel desperately wanted to capture Tobruk. The possession of the port would greatly reduce the length of his supply lines from Benghazi situated some 900 miles to the west. Under these circumstances his supplies were insufficient even for day-to-day operations and only half of what was needed for an offensive.11

On 7 April 1941, the Italian armoured division, Ariete, besieged the British garrison at Mechili as a part of Rommel’s first offensive through Cyrenaica with the goal of encircling the allied forces. Early the next morning, A Squadron of the 18th Cavalry, where Second Lieutenant Yaqub-Khan was assigned, broke through and then turned to attack the Italian artillery. This enabled some Indian troops of the 11th Prince Albert Victor’s Own (PAVO) Cavalry to get away. Later, during a second attack, small groups of the 2nd Royal Lancers (Gardner’s Horse) also managed to escape. But the rest of the garrison was pinned down, and, eventually, between 2,700 to 3,000 British, Indian and Australian troops surrendered to the Italian 17th Infantry Division.12

Yaqub-Khan thus won his spurs and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 3 Apri11942, but a little more than a month later, on 27 May, the Italians overran the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade. Thus at the age of 21, Yaqub-Khan became a prisoner of war. He was to spend the remaining years of the Second World War in captivity. In a strange way, these were not wasted years – there were moments of adventure as he attempted to escape as well as months of solitude that enabled him to hone his intellectual skills. Adversity moulded his character and taught him never to succumb under pressure.

Recorded history shows that some of the most outstanding men and women through the ages were also imprisoned. This was acknowledged by the brilliant 19th century British statesman, Benjamin Disraeli, when he wrote: “Other men condemned to exile and captivity, if they survive, despair; the man of letters may reckon those days as the sweetest of his life.” He was writing about the Dutch jurist and philosopher, Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), whose masterpiece De Jure Belli ac Pacis (On the Law of War and Peace) is considered one of the greatest contributions to the development of international law. Grotius was condemned to life imprisonment but managed to escape after two years. His prison years were spent in philosophic and literary work.

Disraeli’s essay was cited by another renowned prisoner, Jawaharlal Nehru, in “The Last Letter to Indira” that he wrote from jail in August 1933. In this missive he said that there had been several other famous prisoners, and, among them probably the two best known were the Spaniard, Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, and the Englishman, John Bunyan who wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress. 13 Nehru’s prison letters to his daughter, Indira, were later compiled and published as Glimpses of World History.

Like these men, Yaqub-Khan was also not one to be daunted by captivity. It was at the POW camp in Aversa in southern Italy that he not only mastered the Italian language but also read voraciously and had the time for introspection and self-analysis. He seemed to have been convinced, as was Oscar Wilde, that “the beauty that lies dormant in all lives” can be resuscitated through love and compassion. This was in evidence many years later when, during a conversation in the mid-1970s with the late Colonel Ismail Khan S.J14 who was then the chief of protocol, he said that arrogance was the enemy of compassion and was undoubtedly one of the greatest of evils. He then explained, “The branches of tree laden with fruit always bend.”

Yaqub-Khan was not pontificating but was merely trying to mollify the furious Colonel Ismail who had been wrongly reprimanded by a politician. There was a strange empathy between the two – both had been POWs during the Second World War. Colonel Ismail Khan had fought in the eastern theatre and had been captured by the Japanese. I was present during the conversation and it was only much later that I realised how close Yaqub-Khan’s words were to the Quranic passage: “And walk not on earth with haughty self-conceit: For, verily, thou canst never rend the earth asunder, nor canst thou ever grow as tall as the mountains.”15

The Italians had completely routed the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade.The commanding officers of its three cavalry regiments – Lieutenant Colonel Fowler of the 18 Cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel De Sallis from the 2nd Lancers, and Lieutenant Colonel P.R. Tathem of the 11th PAVO Cavalry – along with a sizeable number of British and Indian officers were captured by the Italians. Most of the prisoners were either sent to the POW camps at Avezzano or Aversa.16

The Italians cannot be faulted for a lack of ingenuity. In an unprecedented measure, Colonel Errera, the commander at the POW camp in Aversa where Yaqub-Khan was confined, decided to entrust the management of the prisoners to Indian officers belonging to different faiths and ethnicities. Under this arrangement, the Sandhurst-trained Major Paramasiva Prabhakar Kumaramangalam of the 2nd Field Regiment, being the senior-most officer, was appointed the commanding officer of the camp. Captain Yahya Khan from the 4/10 Baluch Regiment(later to become the 11th Baluch of the Pakistan Army) became the camp Adjutant, and, Captain Tikka Khan also from the 2nd Field Regiment was made the Quarter Master.17

What Colonel Errera could not possibly have known was that a number of the inmates at the Aversa camp under his charge would soar to great heights in later years and play an important part in the history of independent India and Pakistan. Thus Kumaramangalam became the Indian army chief from 1966 to 1969; Yahya Khan rose to the rank of the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan and then took over as president of the country (1966 – 1971); in 1971 Tikka Khan served as commander of the Eastern Command in East Pakistan and later, from 1972 to 1976, became the army chief of Pakistan. Yaqub-Khan was promoted Lieutenant General and then led the Eastern Command during the fateful days of 1971.18

In the confusing times of 1943 when the Italian forces capitulated, Yaqub-Khan along with his close friend Lieutenant Abhey Singh and Major Kumaramangalam, the future Indian army chief, escaped from their respective camps at Aversa and Avezzano. The group, led by Yaqub-Khan because of his fluency in Italian, were sheltered by rural Italians who were sympathetic to the Allies. They spent the next four to five months attempting to reach the Allied lines but were captured by the Germans.

Thus the three officers became POWs again. Kumaramangalam was sent to Stalag Luft III a high-security Luftwaffe-run POW camp in Lower Silesia, while Yaqub-Khan and Abhey Singh were kept at camp Oflag 79 near the city of Braunschweig, also known by the English name Brunswick. Oflag 79 was located in a three-story building that had previously been the home of the German parachute regiment. It was here that Yaqub-Khan not only mastered the German language but was also able to quote extensively from Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra and the works of Goethe to the amazement and delight of his captors.19 The camp was strafed in August 1944 by American and British fighter aircraft resulting in three fatalities and several injuries. It was eventually liberated by the US Ninth Army on 12 April 1945.20

The end of the war in 1945 provided only a brief interlude of happiness for Yaqub-Khan. He had risen to the rank of major and was assigned to the Viceroy’s Bodyguards commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Peter Hussey. It was then that he was suddenly confronted with the second defining moment of his life. In early July 1947 each officer was given a mimeographed form and was asked to specify whether he wished to serve in the Indian or Pakistan army.

This was to be the most difficult decision that the 27-year-old battle-tested soldier would ever be required to take. In their best selling book, Freedom at Midnight, Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins graphically portray his terrible anguish. I can understand his pain because I also underwent the same dreadful ordeal in 1971 with the creation of Bangladesh.

Narinder Singh Sarila (1927-2011), a former aide de camp to Lord Mountbatten, and subsequently India’s ambassador to France and other countries, claimed in his memoirs, Once a Prince of Sarila, that it was Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck, the commander-in-chief of the Indian army, who prevailed upon Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan to opt for Pakistan. The young officer was told that the new country would need soldiers of his calibre particularly for establishing institutions and traditions in its army. According to Sarila, after his retirement Auchinleck continued to take a keen interest in Yaqub-Khan’s swift rise to prominence and would often proudly claim credit for convincing him to move to Pakistan.21

Those who give credence to Sarila’s account point out that Yaqub-Khan’s nephew, Sayyid Murtaza Ali Khan Bahadur (1923-1982) was Auchinleck’s ADC. Murtaza was also in the British India army and took part in the Second World War. It is said that after his release from German captivity at the end of the war, it was in Auchinleck’s plane that Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan flew from London back to India along with his nephew who was to become the titular Nawab of Rampur in 1966.22

Yaqub-Khan tried to explain his decision to opt for Pakistan to his mother, and, according to Lapierre and Collins, the broken-hearted lady replied: “I do not understand all this. We have lived here for two centuries. We have seen the sacking of Dehli. We’ve lived the Mutiny. Your forefathers fought the British for this land. Your great grandfather was executed in the Mutiny. We fought, fought and fought. And now we have a home here. Our graves are here. I’m old and my days are numbered. I don’t understand politics but as a mother my desires are selfish. I am afraid this will separate us.”23

She was right. Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan would never return to his ancestral home nor would he see his beloved mother ever again. He had sacrificed everything for Pakistan.

The army regiments were divided between India and Pakistan including the Viceroy’s Bodyguards that consisted of Punjabi Muslims and Sikhs. Like all other regiments of the British India Army, the personnel and equipment of the Viceroy’s Bodyguards was also to be divided. Though this was considered by far the most important apportionment of regimental assets it was carried out at the stables of the Viceroy’s House with Major Yaqub-Khan and Major Gobind Singh of the Jaipur Guards representing Pakistan and India respectively.

“At issue were twelve horse-drawn carriages. With their ornate, hand-wrought gold and silver designs, their glittering harnesses, their scarlet cushions, they embodied all the pretentious pomp, all the majestic disdain, that had both fascinated and infuriated the Raj’s Indian subjects…”24 Six of the carriages were trimmed in gold and the remaining six in silver. It was agreed that one of the two countries would get the gold carriages and the other would have to settle for the silver. Mountbatten’s ADC, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Howes, came forward with the profoundly plebeian suggestion that the issue should be decided through a flip of the coin.

Gobind Singh won the toss and the gold carriages went to India. Yaqub-Khan proceeded to Pakistan with the Muslim component and their share of the assets of one of the oldest regiments of the British India army. In Pakistan he became the first commandant of the GovernorGeneral’s Bodyguards.

He would never be able to see his cherished comrade Abhey Singh again. The two had been together at the Royal Indian Military Academy; they were both posted to the 18th King Edward’s Own Cavalry; they had both fought in the Middle East theatre in the Second World War; they were both prisoners of war of the Italians, they escaped from captivity only to be captured by the Germans and spent the remaining years of the war at the POW camp near Braunschweig. In 1947 Abhey Singh decided to remain in India and was transferred to the 17th Poona Horse. The following year he famously led a tank squadron in Operation Polo when the Indian army moved into the state of Hyderabad.25 He died at the age of 59 in June 1981.

Within months of the Partition, the first Pakistan-India war broke out in Kashmir. Yaqub-Khan was sent to the snow-covered slopes of the region and was tasked to assault enemy pickets. His elder brother,Sahabzada Yunis Khan’s regiment, the Indian army’s Garhwal Rifles, was also positioned in the same theatre. Seldom in the history of human conflict have real brothers been called upon to confront each other at the battlefront.

A few years later, in the early 1950s, Yaqub-Khan briefly commanded the 11th PAVO Cavalry. This was the regiment that had been in the same formation as the 18th Cavalry in the Second World War. Memories of the siege of Tobruk and particularly the battle of El Mechili must have come stealing into his mind. It was at El Mechili that his squadron had broken through the Italian encirclement of the garrison and then turned to attack the enemy artillery. This had enabled officers of the 11th PAVO Cavalry to escape.

In a detailed article on Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan in March 2011, the military historian Dr Hamid Hussain narrated an incident at the 11thPavo Cavalry officers’ mess: “In view of his aristocratic background and intellectual bent, Yaqub was different in outlook. He was from the old school of strict adherence to protocol and traditions. One of his junior officers who served with Yaqub when the latter was commanding the 11th PAVO Cavalry recalls an incident in the mess. In one of the early days of his command, Yaqub stormed out of the dining room because the cold meat was not properly dressed and the potatoes were not of uniform size…I can easily visualise during the Second WorldWar, when ready to surrender, Yaqub donning his best cavalry uniform and asking his orderly to polish the boots with extra shine and then put on his cavalry sword and wait for the Italian officer to show up and Yaqub surrendering with full protocol.”26 Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan was undoubtedly a perfectionist but was of a mellow disposition, humane and compassionate. It is therefore difficult to accept Dr Hamid Hussain’s account as entirely accurate.

In the 1965 Pakistan-India war, Major General Yaqub-Khan commanded the 1st Armoured Division. Strangely enough it was during this conflict that his parent battalion, the 18th Cavalry commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Hari Singh Deora succeeded in reaching the Burki area of the Lahore sector. It was at this point that Hari Singh had his photograph taken in front of the Burki Police Station.

There was fierce fighting, and, a short distance away on 11 September 1965 Major Aziz Bhatti, after leading his platoon without rest for five days and nights, was hit by an Indian tank shell. He was awarded the Nishan-e-Haider (Mark of the Lion), equivalent to the British Victoria Cross and the American Medal of Honour with the important difference that it is only awarded posthumously.

Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan was blessed with the priceless virtue of originality and he dwelt in the empire of ideas. But like Romain Rolland, the French novelist, dramatist, essayist, art historian and mystic who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1915, he believed that, “Action is the end of thought. All thought which does not look towards action is an abortion and a treachery. If then we are the servants of thought we must be the servants of action.”27

It was in this spirit that he stimulated conceptual thinking in the Pakistan army. As the commandant of the Command and Staff College in Quetta from January 1963 to September 1965, he introduced the officers to concepts such as the higher direction of war. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the National Defence College (now National Defence University) with its two-tiered course.28

It was in Dacca (Dhaka) at the banks of the Buriganga in 1971 that Yaqub-Khan encountered the third defining moment in his action-packed life. He decided to put an end to more than thirty years of his spectacular career in the army. He had reached the rank of lieutenant general at the age of 51, and, it was widely believed that, in time, he would become the army chief. As the commander of the Eastern Command in the former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), he refused to open fire on the populace and urged the regime of General Yahya Khan to defuse the mounting tensions through dialogue with the political leaders of East Pakistan. He warned that any other course of action would have horrendous consequences.

The advice fell on deaf ears and Yaqub-Khan resigned from the army on 5 March 1971 saying, “Can we in the last quarter of the 20th century attempt to assume an imperial role?”29 The GHQ in Rawalpindi reacted by demoting and dismissing him from the army. Shortly afterwards, a hideous chain of events was unleashed and culminated in the creation of Bangladesh.

Estimates about the number of fatalities vary from three million as claimed by India and Bangladesh to 26,000 as accepted in the report of Pakistan’s Hamoodur Rehman Commission.30 In his book, Sheikh Mujib: Triumph and Tragedy, the first foreign secretary of Bangladesh, Sayyid A. Karim (1928-2009), boldly admitted he had been told by the prime minister’s office in Dhaka that the figure of three million had been taken from the Soviet newspaper Pravda.31 The London School of Economics educated Karim joined the Pakistan foreign service in 1950, and, in 1971was Deputy Permanent Representative at the Pakistan mission in New York. He resigned to join the Bangladesh liberation movement and eventually headed the foreign ministry of the newly independent country. This did not stop Karim from dedicating his book to the late ambassador Tayyeb Hussain of Pakistan.

According to the American journalist Lawrence Lifschultz, a survey by the Mujib government that was projecting a death toll of 250,000 was abruptly shut down.32 Whatever the actual figure, the terrible tragedy could have been avoided had Yaqub-Khan’s warning been heeded.

Princess Abida Sultaan (1913-2002) – the mother of former foreign secretary and the current chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Shahryar M. Khan – commented on Yaqub-Khan’s decision to resign from the army in her posthumously published book, Memoirs of a Rebel  Princess, with the stunning perspicacity of the fearless person that she had always been: “Seldom can history have proved a man right so quickly as Pakistan’s military effort collapsed and the country submerged under the rubble of shame and despair.”33

These were weighty words indeed, coming as they did from a Muslim princess who dared to rebel against societal conventions and play an active public role. Hers was an adventure-loving free spirit. This remarkable lady was not only an outstanding sportswoman but was also an intrepid hunter who shot 73 tigers. As early as 1942, she learnt to fly and received a license. In Pakistan she served briefly as an ambassador and was a formidable champion of democracy and women’s rights. Her profound understanding of the Quran enabled her to take on the obscurantist clerics.34 Above all it was truth that Princess Abida Sultaan cherished the most, and, it was in this spirit that she wholeheartedly supported Lieutenant General Yaqub-Khan’s stance during the Bangladesh crisis.

His decision to oppose military action in Bangladesh has never been forgotten by its people, and, this is corroborated by the American South Asian experts, Howard and Teresita Schaffer. Howard became the US ambassador to Bangladesh from 1984 to 1987 while his wife Teresita served as the envoy to Sri Lanka a few years later.

They recently co-authored an article on Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan in which they reminisced: “When Howie became US ambassador to Bangladesh, we heard countless ‘Yaqub stories,’ about his sympathetic approach to the Bengalis and of course his decision to resign when he no longer felt able to carry out his government’s policy. We heard about his proficiency in Bangla, both from people we met around town and especially from the professor who taught us the language, as he had taught Yaqub a decade and a half earlier.

“But the full impact of Yaqub’s role at the terrible and turbulent time only became clear to us a year or so after our arrival in Dhaka. Yaqub, as foreign minster, accompanied President Ziaul Haq to the inaugural meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and both decided to stay a couple of days. The understandably frazzled Pakistan ambassador, the late Tanvir Ahmed Khan, was tasked with hosting a reception with no prior notice. It was an enormous affair.The most conspicuous guests were Bangladeshi military officers, all of whom had started their careers in the Pakistan army. One officer after another pulled us aside to tell us, sometimes with eyes welling up, where and when he had served ‘with Sahabzada,’ and how much Sahabzada’s honourable stance still meant to them.”35

During that visit in early December 1985, Yaqub-Khan stunned the local media at a press briefing with Ziaul Haq. In response to a question, he smiled and then affectionately asked the young journalist in chaste unaccented Bengali, “1971-e tumi kothae chhile khoka” (where were you in 1971, my child). These simple words had such a powerful impact on the journalist, Syed Badrul Ahsan that he never forgot that moment. He wrote about it in a recent article although more than three decades had gone by since that memorable press conference.36

Less than three years after Yaqub-Khan’s refusal to take military action in the former East Pakistan and his decision to resign from the army, the Pakistan government conceded how right he had been, and, his rank as lieutenant general was restored. On 22 February 1974, Pakistan recognised Bangladesh, and, on that day a special aircraft was sent to Dhaka to bring Sheikh Mujibur Rehaman to Lahore for the historic second summit of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto visited Dhaka four months later, and, formal diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on 18 January 1976.

Some scholars are of the opinion that had General Yahya heeded Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan’s advice, there was a possibility that Bangladesh may never have been created. This may or may not be an accurate assessment but what is certain is that the devastating war in which hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives could have been avoided.

 In the amphitheatre of global politics

As ambassador in Paris, Washington and Moscow from 1972 to 1982 and then as a three-time foreign minister – 21 March 1982 to 1 November 1987, 9 June 1988 to 20 March 1991, and 1 November 1996 to 24 February 1997 – Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan’s achievements were stunning. From the time of its independence in 1947, Pakistan has had 26 foreign ministers, and, five of them – Muhammad Ali Bogra, Feroze Khan Noon, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Yahya Khan, and Farooq Leghari – also served as the country’s chief executive either as president or prime minister. But despite this, only Haji Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan (1893-1985), who was Pakistan’s first foreign minister from 1947 to 1954, and Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan were and still are, unreservedly respected and admired by the international community.

The hallmark of diplomacy is articulation, and, in this sense Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan’s command of languages singled him out as one of the finest in the profession during the Cold War years and after. This prompted Dr Henry Kissinger to comment, “Yaqub-Khan has an unfair advantage as a diplomat.” He was fluent in French, German, Italian, Russian, English, Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Bengali, and, as if that were not enough, he once told me he needed no more two to three weeks to be able to learn and speak in any language.

I stared at him in disbelief, and, as though he could read my mind, he smiled and explained: “All one has to do is to master about 300 essential nouns, 10 verbs, five or six adjectives and adverbs, a few conjunctions, prepositions, and, of course, the definite and indefinite articles. This adds up to grand total of less than 400 words and you have the core ingredient of any language. It is pointless, in fact idiotic, at the initial stage to learn uncommon words. For instance, when, if ever, have you used nouns such as ‘cherubim,’ or, ‘erratum,’ or, ‘kettledrum’ and so on?”

The American author, presidential speechwriter, journalist and the 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, William Safire (17 December 1929 – 27 September 2009) lauded Yaqub-Khan for his learning and the profundity of his thoughts. Safire also did a weekly column, ‘On Language,’ for New York Times Magazine form 1979 until the month of his death. In his On Language column of 9 January 1983 titled, “Cap the Entitlement,” he wrote: “The award for the best new politico-diplomatic usage of 1982 goes to Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, who used a word I never heard before to describe the country that lies between the Soviet Union and the gateway to the Persian Gulf: ‘Afghanistan might one day be intended by the Soviets to be a glacis.’”

“ ‘A what?’ asked a press corps eager to advance its erudition. Mr Yaqub-Khan, who converses in Romance languages as well as Russian and Urdu, was puzzled by the lack of understanding by the American press: Glacis is an old, established English word with a modern figurative meaning. From the sentence context, I offered ‘buffer’ as a synonym, which the foreign minister accepted…How accurate a definition of Afghanistan, if the Soviets agree to withdraw and insist on leaving behind a Soviet-influenced Government.” In the article the columnist delved deep into the origins of the word glacis (pronounced ‘glay-cis’). He must have included this word in his magnum opus, Safire’s Political Dictionary.

The New York Times Magazine piece appeared a year after YaqubKhan had become foreign minister but his fame had already spread far and wide in the United States. His six-year term as ambassador to Washington had been as momentous as it had been dramatic. From 9 -11 March 1977, a splinter group of the Nation of Islam known as the Hanafi Movement took 149 men, women and children hostage in three different locations in Washington. In the 39-hour standoff a radio journalist and a police officer were killed.

The entire country was on tenterhooks as Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan along with ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi of Iran and the Harvard educated Egyptian envoy, Dr. Ashraf Ghorbal began negotiations with the 12 gunmen for the release of the hostages. It was during Ghorbal’s tenure that the historic Camp David Accords were signed in 1978.

Ardeshir Zahedi had been his country’s foreign minister from 1962- 1966, and, it was during his ambassadorial assignment in the US that he had become a constant companion of the actress Elizabeth Taylor. The two soon became known as the “hottest couple” in Washington DC. He resigned after the Iranian revolution and made fervent attempts at securing political asylum for the Shah of Iran in Panama, Mexico, Morocco and finally Egypt. Ardeshir Zahedi was present at the Shah’s funeral in Cairo in 1980.37

Yaqub-Khan led the negotiations with the gunmen and offered himself as a hostage in return for the release of the captives. This was summarily rejected, and, it was only after many hours of difficult talks that the hostages were released. The entire nation heaved a sigh of relief and expressed their gratitude to the three Muslim envoys. President Jimmy Carter commented, “Ambassador Yaqub-Khan had almost singlehandedly talked the Muslim group into peacefully surrendering the hostages.”38 Several years later, State Department officials admiringly asked Yaqub-Khan how he had managed to persuade the hostage-takers to surrender. He replied that his approach had been to remind the gunmen about passages of the Quran that stressed God’s mercy.39

On the completion of his term, Yaqub-Khan departed from the US in a blaze of glory. But shortly afterwards he was back in Washington on a secret and urgent mission. The Soviet Union had just invaded Afghanistan and he had been tasked to ascertain the extent of support that Islamabad could expect from Washington. The visit was extraordinarily sensitive because he was, at the time, the Pakistan ambassador in Moscow. He, therefore, asked the State Department to ensure that he could enter and leave the building unnoticed. One of the Pakistan desk officers was accordingly assigned to pick him up at his hotel and bring him in through the basement garage. “The desk officer’s car was a particularly ratty old Volkswagen Bug – a most unaccustomed chariot for this most elegant man. Yaqub didn’t bat an eyelash; his presence went publicly unremarked, and privately appreciated by both sides.”40 During the decade-long Afghan struggle against Soviet occupation, Pakistan became the third largest recipient of US economic and military assistance after Israel and Egypt.

The Soviet intrusion into Afghanistan on 27 December 1979 with an initial 85,000 troops triggered a fierce war of liberation that lasted almost a decade. The occupation army was ultimately withdrawn in a haze of ignominy as per the stipulations of the Geneva Accords of 14 April 1988. This was the outcome of ten rounds of proximity talks in Geneva between Pakistan and the Soviet-installed regime in Kabul. In a sense the accords sounded the death knell of two Cold War doctrines – the Brezhnev doctrine which was built around providing economic and military assistance to neighboring socialist regimes, and the Regan doctrine which centered on destabilizing such regimes by supporting insurgencies against them.

Negotiations under the proximity format started in the summer of 1982, and, Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan, who led the Pakistan delegation, knew only too well that the fatal flaw in the process was that the Afghan resistance had not been invited. He, therefore, staunchly believed that the final round should not only result in the withdrawal of Soviet troops but should also yield a national government with the consent of all the Afghan parties or else there would be chaos.

President Ziaul Haq agreed with him completely but Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo (1932-1993) insisted that the accords should be signed quickly in order to let him get on with his domestic agenda. Yaqub-Khan resigned from the cabinet in November 1987, and the responsibility for concluding the negotiations in Geneva devolved on the minister of state for foreign affairs, Zain Noorani.

He was to have left for Geneva on the night of 13 March for the final round of the proximity talks. That evening a cabinet meeting was hastily convened to give the final touches to Noorani’s brief when Prime Minister Junejo received a telephone call from General Ziaul Haq. A short while later Zia stormed into the room and spent more than an hour explaining the nuances of Pakistan’s Afghan policy. He then looked straight at Zain Noorani and told him that if he signed the accords blindly without upholding the country’s interests, “the people will lynch you on the roads.” He instructed him to carefully write down what he should say at the talks. Noorani complied obediently, put the papers in his briefcase and rushed to the airport. At Geneva the utterly demoralized minister of state did not attend the talks. Feigning illness he remained in his hotel suite and returned to Pakistan the next day.41 But this merely delayed the signing of the accords by a month.

The agreements that eventually emerged from the protracted negotiations between the Pakistan government and the Najibullah regime in Kabul, with the United States and the Soviet Union serving as guarantors, consisted of multiple instruments. These included: (i) a bilateral compact between Pakistan and Afghanistan on the principles of mutual relations, in particular non-intervention and noninterference; (ii) a declaration on international guarantees, signed by the USSR and the USA; (iii) an accord between Islamabad and Kabul on the voluntary return of the Afghan refugees; (iv) an agreement on the interrelationships for the settlement of the situation relating to Afghanistan, signed by Pakistan and Afghanistan and witnessed by the Soviet Union and the United States; and, (v) a timetable for the withdrawal of Soviet troops which commenced on 15 May 1988 and was completed on 15 February 1989.

Six weeks after the conclusion of the Geneva Accords on Afghanistan, General Ziaul Haq dismissed the Junejo government and dissolved the National Assembly. A few days later, on 9 June 1988, Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan was reappointed as foreign minister, and, exactly as he had anticipated, in the absence of an interim government in Kabul to which power could be transferred, Afghanistan descended into chaos.

The US ambassador in Pakistan at the time, the late Robert Oakley (1988-1991) was of the opinion that “the outcome of the Geneva Accords would have been different had Sahabzada Yabqub-Khan been around.”42 President Ziaul Haq was killed along with Oakley’s predecessor, ambassador Arnold Raphel and others, in a mysterious air crash in Bahawalpur on 17 August 1988, but Yaqub-Khan remained foreign minister in the first Benazir Bhutto government from 1988 to 1990.

The Afghan resistance, or mujahideen, were neither a party to the negotiations nor to the Geneva accords and therefore refused to accept the terms of the settlement. They had fought heroically and defeated a superpower. But they did not celebrate their triumph. There was no jubilation, and, the nationalist upsurge that accompanies a successful war of liberation was absent from Afghanistan. This is because the freedom struggle had been a decentralised conflict, fought in many theatres of war through the length and breadth of approximately 647,000 square kilometres of rugged Afghan territory. There was no central figure for the people to rally around.43 There was tension among the seven major mujahideen groups because of stern disagreement among them on a power-sharing mechanism.

Around this time, I had become director general at the foreign minister’s office and Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan would often narrate a remarkably insightful parable for a solution of the Afghan problem. The parable is set in a land ruled by seven warrior princes who had been presented 13 elephants by the potentate of a nearby country. But soon the princes were confronted with the impossibility of apportioning the gifted animals equally among themselves. Tensions soared sky high and war seemed certain. It was then that a wise old man intervened.

The sage, who had entered the land mounted on his own elephant, summoned the princes and heard them out. He then decided to gift his own elephant to them, bringing the number of the coveted animals to fourteen so that they could be distributed equally among the seven princes. The country was thus saved from a fratricidal conflict and the princes agreed to make the aged savant their king on the understanding that his role would only be advisory and they would have unfettered autonomy in their respective areas.

The fabled land was, of course, Afghanistan, the warrior princes were the seven leaders of the Mujahideen factions and the sage was former king Zahir Shah, who, after almost thirty years in exile, returned to his war-torn country in 2002 to be acclaimed as the ‘Father of the Nation.’ Though the former monarch, who died in Kabul on 23 July 2007 was unable to unify his country, the key to the restoration of sustainable peace in Afghanistan is still embedded in that strange parable.

In September 1990, well after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, the Americans concluded that Pakistan’s nuclear programme had reached the point where substantial US assistance would have to be terminated. Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan, as foreign minister in the caretaker cabinet of Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, rushed to Washington to salvage the situation. According to senior State Department officials, in his meeting with Secretary of State James Baker, “He argued his case with skill and style. He never conceded that the US was correct in its assessment, never quite denied it, but argued what was undoubtedly the point most important to his government: that Pakistan felt its future existence was at stake. The aid cut-off happened despite his best efforts, but he walked out with his reputation intact, along with the respect in which he was held by Washington, and specifically by Baker.”44

A few days later, I was appointed ambassador to Seoul. In the course of several conversations in his office prior to my departure, Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan dwelt at length about the concepts of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) that Mikhail Gorbachev had introduced in the rapidly disintegrating Soviet Union and compared this to the structural stability in East Asia. Gorbachev, he said, had made the mistake of introducing the two concepts in his country simultaneously. Glasnost had opened the floodgates of expectations that perestroika, which was essentially a slow process, could not immediately deliver. As a consequence there was instability and uncertainty in the final months of the Soviet Union.

In contrast, the East Asian countries such as South Korea had followed a sequential approach. There had been years, in fact, decades of perestroika and this had transformed the region into an economic powerhouse. It was at this stage that glasnost was introduced in the countries of the Far East. With the exception of China, the other nations of the region were gradually opening up, there was more freedom of expression, and democracy was becoming the norm. He advised me to study this concept further during my assignment in Seoul.

In his final meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger in early 1991, Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan spoke along similar lines in the context of the post-Cold War geopolitics. He declaimed: “Don’t you think the problem is philosophical? China wants perestroika without glasnost, and Russia wants glasnost without perestroika.” The baffled Eagleburger, who, because of his pro-Serb bias was nicknamed ‘Lawrence of Serbia,’ replied: “I’ve been telling people, we’re going to be nostalgic for the Cold War.”45

Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan remained foreign minister during the first four months of the Nawaz Sharif government but relinquished the post on 20 March 1991. During his first term (6 November 1990-18 July 1993), the new prime minister initially focussed on cobbling together an interim coalition government, consisting of the seven mujahideen parties, in Afghanistan. Eventually, Burhanuddin Rabbani46 became president from 1992 to 1996 but his rule was particularly disastrous.

Local commanders, who had fought against the Soviet occupation army, established themselves in their respective areas. Peace therefore did not return to the country. The conflict that followed transformed itself from a heroic war of liberation to an ugly contest for power. There was no wise man, as in Yaqub-Khan’s parable, who would come riding in to unify and stabilize the country. The government’s writ was confined to Kabul and a few cities. The rest of the country was at the mercy of local warlords. The chaos spurred the emergence of the Taliban, and, on 27 September 1996, they captured Kabul and two-thirds of Afghanistan came under their control.

During this period there was also political turmoil in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif’s first government was ousted on 18 April 1993, and, Benazir Bhutto became prime minister again. President Farooq Leghari dismissed her second government on 5 November 1996 amid scandals. A month before her second term came to an abrupt end, her husband, Asif Ali Zardari who was the investment minister, wanted me to work with him and had me transferred shortly after my return from Seoul, to the Board of Investment.

Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan was reappointed foreign minister in the caretaker administration of Prime Minister Meraj Khalid. One of his first acts was to bring me back to the foreign office where, on his insistence, I was assigned the sensitive Afghanistan Division. I was tasked with the responsibility of undertaking shuttle missions between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance in order to bring the warring groups to the negotiating table. The day I returned to the foreign office on 6 November 1996, I had my first, and somewhat comical, encounter with the Taliban.

I was talking with Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan in his office that evening when Foreign Secretary Najmuddin Shaikh walked in to say that Mullah Ghaus, the Taliban foreign minister, was waiting outside. Before Najmuddin had time to say anything else, Ghaus barged into the room unannounced, hugged the startled Yaqub-Khan and kissed him on both cheeks. I was next in line. I was later to discover that he had a crude sense of humour.

Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan often told me “Afghanistan will radiate stability or instability. And where hope resides, extremism and cruelty can never take root.” In an address in 2002, a few months after the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom on 7 October 2001, he articulated his thoughts for a durable settlement in Afghanistan. He singled out the “short political attention span of the western democracies for the turmoil in Afghanistan. The void after the withdrawal of the Russian forces was filled by rustic radicals. People left Afghans to the devices of regional warlords. Taliban were unwisely isolated and denied an opportunity to moderate their policies. They were high jacked by Al-Qaeda. Long-term sustained support to rebuild Afghanistan was essential to replace the culture of conflict with culture of peace. Without this, the overarching objective of world peace will elude us.”47

He was absolutely right in identifying the short attention span of western powers as one of the causes for the incessant bloodletting in Afghanistan. The first formal American pronouncement on the Taliban came on 18 November 1996 during a UN conference in New York of countries with interest in Afghanistan. Three elements in the statement of the US delegate, assistant secretary Robin Raphel (the first wife of Ambassador Arnold Raphel, who died in the Bahawalpur air crash with President Ziaul Haq), were particularly interesting.48

She declared that the Taliban were purely an indigenous movement, that their success had little to do with military prowess (implying that they were preferred by the Afghan people to the chaos that had been prevailing), and that some of the policies pursued by the Taliban were extreme but this could be moderated by engaging with them.49 This statement was quickly forgotten. Instead of engaging with the Taliban, the western countries isolated them. As Yaqub-Khan stated in his 2002 speech, isolation “denied them an opportunity to moderate their policies.” Afghanistan thus became the breeding ground for terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. Perhaps 9/11 might never have happened had the world abided by the first official American pronouncement on the Taliban.

It was in his famous speech in the US on ‘Diplomacy as a problem in epistemology’ that the profundity of Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan’s thoughts was on display. The audience seemed transfixed by his brilliance, and, as noted earlier it prompted President Nixon to describe him as the most astute geopolitical thinker of the times. In that address, Yaqub-Khan expounded on the theme that through history, it was the erroneous perceptions of reality that had ignited conflict and had embittered relations between nations. Each state, he elaborated, inhabits a cosmos of its own and it was the geocentric approach to diplomacy that limited and impeded objectivity. It was this epistemology that was the foremost challenge to diplomacy and diplomats in a world that was either perpetually on the verge of tragedy, or, possibly at the threshold of limitless possibility.50

The late William Safire had always admired Sahabzada YaqubKhan’s formidable diplomatic skills. He recalled that on several occasions Yaqub-Khan had been entrusted with some of the most difficult and delicate missions. One of these was when he was despatched to Washington to assure the US administration that General Musharraf’s 1999 coup against the elected government was both temporary as well as necessary. He then asked rhetorically, “Is democracy an end in itself or a means to an end? What do you do when democracy leads ineluctably to chaos?”51

Within hours of Sahabzada Yaqub Khan’s passing, ambassadors Howard and Teresita Schaffer of the US co-authored an article on his achievements that said it all: “His death leaves the world a poorer and less colourful place…If diplomatic conversation can be spellbinding, which it rarely is, it was widely agreed that perhaps more than any other practicing foreign policymaker, Yaqub could make it so. Conversations with him were part tour de force, part grand tour of geopolitics, and part remembrance of a bygone era. He was one of a kind. We shall not see his like again any time soon.”52


1 Tariq Masoon, “Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan: Diplomat with unfair advantage;” Express Tribune, 27 January 2016.

2 Rampur (Dar ul-Insha), The Rohilla (or Barech) Dynasty – A Brief History

3 Wikipedia, Sahabzada Yaqub Khan.

4 From an article, Stranger than Fiction – Lieutenant General (r) Sahabzada Muhammad Yaqub Khan, by Hamid Hussain. The piece which was written a few years ago was published by Yaqub-Khan’s in the magazine brought out by his alma mater, the Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehra Dun.

5 Ibid., Hamid Hussain

6 Wikipedia, Sahabzada Yaqub Khan

7 Hamid Hussain, Stranger than Fiction – Lieutenant General (r) Sahabzada Muhammad Yaqub Khan.

8 Wikipedia, The siege of Tobruk.

9 Playfair, Major General I.S.O.; Flynn RN, Captain F.C.; Molony, Brigadier C.J.C., and Toomer Air Vice Marshal S.E. (2004), (first published HMSO 1956.) Butler, J.R.M. ed. The Mediterranean and Middle East: The Germans come to the Help of their Allay (1941). “History of the Second World War;” pp.6-8. United Kingdom Military Services II. Naval and Military Press ISBN 1-84574-066-1.

10 Butler, Daniel Allan (2015). Field Marshal: The Life and Death of Erwin Rommel; Haverton, PA; Oxford: Casemate. ISBN 978-16200-297-2; p.221.

11 Ibid., p.258

12 Playfair,., p.30.

13 Nehru, Jawaharlal; India’s Freedom, (First published in June, 1936 as India and the World); 1962, Unwin Books, London; pp. 60-61.

14 Sitara-e-Jurat (Star of Courage) is the third highest military award of Pakistan “for gallant and distinguished service performed in combat.”

15 The Quran, (17: 38).

16 Hamid Hussain; Stranger Than Fiction – Lieutenant General (r) Sahabzada Muhammad Yaqub Khan.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 Tariq Masood; “Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan: diplomat with unfair advantage,” Express Tribune, 27 January 2016.

20 Wikipedia; Oflag 79.

21 Sarila, Narinder Singh; Once a Prince of Sarila, I.B. Tauris

22 This was conveyed to the author after the publication of his article on Sahabazada Yaqub-Khan in The News of Pakistan as a comment by the scholar Ammar Ali Qureshi

23 Collins, Larry and Lapierre, Dominique; Freedom at Midnight, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1976; p. 178-179.

24 Ibid., p. 171

25 Singh, Lt. Gen. H; Fahre-e-Hind: The Story of the Poona Horse; Agrim Publishers, 1993.

26 Hamid Hussain; “Stranger Than Fiction – Lieutenant General ( r ) Sahabzada Muhammad Yaqub Khan.

27 Cited by Jawaharlal Nehru in “The Last letter to Indira,” India’s Freedom; Unwin Books, 1965; p. 64.

28 Ibid

29 Tariq Masood; “Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan: diplomat with unfair advantage;” Express Tribune, 27 January 2016.

30 Bose, Sarmila; Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War; Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2011; p. 178.

31 Karim, A Sayyid; Sheikh Mujib: Triumph and Tragedy; The United Press Limited, Dhaka; 2012.

32 Divid Bergen, “The politics of Bangladesh’s genocide,” International New York Times, 6 April 2016.

33 Tariq Massod’s article in Express Tribune, 27 January 2016.

34 Sultaan, Princess Abida; Memoirs of a Rebel Princess; Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2004.

35 Howard and Teresita Schaffer, “Sahabzada Yaqub Khan 1920-2016: End of an Era;” article in

36 Syed Badrul Ahsan; “Remembering Sahabzada Yaqub Khan,”, 31 January 2016.

37 Wikipedia; Ardesir Zahedi.

38 Tariq Masood; “Sahabzad Yaqub-Khan: diplomat with unfair advantage;” Express Tribune, 27 January 2016.

39 Howard and Tersita Schaffer; “Sahibzada Yaqub Khan 1920-2016: End of an Era;”

40 Ibid.

41 Shahid Aziz; “A leaf from history: Zia’s standpoint delays Afghan accord;” Dawn, Sunday Magazine, 10 January 2016.

42 Tariq Masood; “Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan: diplomat with unfair advantage;” Express Tribune, 27 January, 2016.

43 Murshed, Iftikhar S, Afghanistan: The Taliban Years, Bennett & Bloom, London, 2006, p.1

44 Howard and Teresita Schaffer; “Sahabzada Yaqub Khan 1020-2016: End of an Era;”

45 Ibid.

46 Murshed, S. Mikail; “The Turmoil in Afghanistan:” Criterion Quarterly’ Vol. 10, No. 4, October-December 2015.

47 Cited by Tariq Masood in his article, “Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan: diplomat with unfair advantage;” Express Tribune, 27 January 2016.

48 Murshed, S. Iftikhar; Afghanistan: the Taliban Years; Bennett & Bloom, London, 2006; p. 51.

49 Ibid.

50 Express Tribune article by Tariq Masood.

51 Article by Same Roberta, International New York Times, 28 January 2016.

52 Howard and Teresita Schaffer, “Sahabzada Yaqub Khan 1920-2016: End of an Era,”

*The author is the publisher of Criterion quarterly. Email: