Khan's abdication letter
Ayub Khan resigned from the office of the President
of Pakistan on March 26, 1969. Two days ago, he had written the
following letter to General Yahya Khan, Commander-in-Chief of the
Armed Forces, requesting him to take over. It may be noted that
the abrogation of the constitution was not suggested in this letter,
an action that General Yahya Khan took on his own intiative soon
after assuming power. (Note on abbreviations: N.Pk. is Nishan-e-Pakistan;
H..J. is Hilal-e-Juraat; H.Pk. is Hilal-e-Pakistan. All of these
are names of medals).
From: Field Marshall Muhammad Ayub Khan, N.Pk.,
My Dear General Yahya,
It is with profound regret that I have come to the
conclusion that all civil administration and constitutional authority
in the country has become ineffective. If the situation continues
to deteriorate at the present alarming rate all economic life, indeed,
civilised existence will become impossible.
I am left with no option but to step aside and leave
it to the Defence Forces of Pakistan, which today represent the
only effective and legal instrument, to take full control of the
country. They are by the grace of God in a position to retrieve
the situation and to save the country from utter chaos and total
destruction. They alone can restore sanity and put the country back
on the road to progress in a civil and constitutional manner.
The restoration and maintenance of full democracy
according to the fundamental principles of our faith and the needs
of our people must remain our ultimate goal. In that lies the salvation
of our people who are blessed with the highest qualities of dedication
and vision and who are destined to play a glorious role in the world.
It is most tragic that while we were well on our way
to a happy and prosperous future, we were plunged into an abyss
of senseless agitation. Whatever may have been used to glorify it
time will show that this turmoil was deliberately created by well-tutored
and well-backed elements. They made it impossible for the government
to maintain any semblance of law and order, to protect the civil
liberties, life and property of the people. Every single instrument
of administration and every medium of expression of saner public
expression was subjected to ruthless public criticism and blackmail.
The result is that all social and ethical norms have been destroyed
and instruments of government have become inoperative and ineffective.
The economic life of the country has all but collapsed.
Workers and labourers are being incited and urged to commit acts
of lawlessness and brutality. While demands for higher wages, salaries
and amenities are being extracted under threat of violence, production
is going down. There has been serious fall in exports and I am afraid
the country may find itself soon in the grip of serious inflation.
All this is the result of the reckless conduct of
those who, acting under cover of a mass movement, struck blow after
blow at the very root of the country during the last few months.
The pity is that a large number of innocent but gullible people
became victims to their innocent designs.
I have served my people to the best of my ability
under all circumstances. Mistakes there must have been but what
has been achieved and accomplished is not negligible. There are
some who would like to undo all that I have done and even that which
was done by the governments before me. But the most tragic and heart-rending
thought is that there was elements at work that would like to undo
even what the Quaid-i-Azam had done namely the creation of Pakistan.
I have exhausted all possible civil and constitutional
means to resolve the present crisis. I offered to meet all those
regarded as the leaders of the people. Many of them came to a conference
recently but after I had fulfilled all their pre-conditions. Some
declined to come for reasons best known to them. I asked these people
to evolve an agreed formula. They failed to do so in spite of days
of deliberations. They finally agreed on two points and I accepted
both of them. I then offered that the un-agreed issues should be
referred to the representatives of the people after they had been
elected on the basis of direct adult franchise. My argument was
that the delegates in the conference who had not been elected by
the people could not arrogate to themselves the authority to decide
all civil and constitutional issues including those on which even
they are not agreed among themselves. I thought that I would call
the national assembly to consider the two agreed points but it soon
became obvious that this would be an exercise in futility. The members
of the assembly are no longer free agents and there is no likelihood
of the agreed two points being faithfully adopted. Indeed members
are being threatened and compelled either to boycott the session
or to move such amendments as would liquidate the central government,
make the maintenance of the armed forces impossible, divide the
economy of the country and break up Pakistan into little bits and
pieces. Calling the assembly in such chaotic conditions can only
aggravate the situation. How can anyone deliberate coolly and dispassionately
on fundamental problems under threat of instant violence.
It is beyond the capacity of the civil government
to deal with the present complex situation and the Defence forces
must step in.
It is your legal and constitutional responsibility
to defend the country not only against external aggression but also
to save it from internal disorder and chaos. The nation expects
you to discharge this responsibility to preserve the security and
integrity of the country and to restore normal, social, economic
and administrative life. Let peace and happiness be brought back
to this anguished land of 120 million people.
I believe you have the capacity, patriotism, dedication
and imagination to deal with the formidable problems facing the
country. You are the leader of the force which enjoys the respect
and admiration of the whole world. Your colleagues in the Pakistan
Air Force and in the Pakistan Navy are men of honour and I know
that you will always have their full support. Together the armed
forces of Pakistan must save Pakistan from disintegration.
I should be grateful if you would convey to every
soldier, sailor and airman that I shall always be proud of having
been associated with them as their Supreme Commander. Each one of
them must know that in this grave hour they have to act as the custodians
of Pakistan. Their conduct and actions must be inspired by the principles
of Islam and by the conviction that they are serving the interests
of their people.
It has been a great honour to have served the valiant
and inspired people of Pakistan for so long a period. May God guide
them to move toward greater prosperity and glory.
I must also record my great appreciation of your unswerving
loyalty. I know that patriotism has been a constant source of inspiration
for you all your life. I pray for your success and for the welfare
and happiness of my people.
M. Ayub Khan
General A. M. Yahya Khan
H.Pk., H.J., C-in-C (Army)
General Headquarters, Rawalpindi.
Source: Ayub Khan, Pakistan's First Military Ruler By Altaf Gauhar. Published by Sang-i-Meel Publications, Lahore (1993)
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