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Monday, May 25, 2009

(9) President of Pakistan !!!

(9) Pervez Musharraf.

Born: 11-Aug-1943
Birthplace: Delhi, India

Gender: Male
Religion: Muslim
Race or Ethnicity: Asian/Indian
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Head of State

Nationality: Pakistan
Executive summary: President of Pakistan, 2001-08

Pervez Musharraf began his military career in 1964, commanding artillery and infantry brigades. He climbed through the ranks, leading various commando units, and eventually was named the #2 position in the Army's high command. In 1998, his commanding officer publicly called for the army to be more involved in the country's political decision-making process, and was forced to resign two days later. Musharraf was then promoted to his nation's highest military position. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif believed that Musharraf posed no political threat, because Musharraf had been raised speaking Urdu, while most of Pakistan's military officers are Punjabi. Musharraf rose above such ethnic limitations when he ousted Sharif in a 1999 bloodless coup. In July 2001, just before a summit with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Musharraf announced that he was now President. In 2002, a national referendum was held to approve Musharraf's role as president. In 2004, he won "votes of confidence" in both houses of Parliament and in Pakistan's four provincial assemblies.

Musharraf is a moderate dictator, and though he seized power instead of running for office, his rule seems to be accepted by most Pakistanis. Fundamentalist groups have been banned, but the press remains free and open elections are allowed (for lesser offices than President). He has overseen increased tensions with India, and it has become fairly commonplace to hear threats of war and annihilation between the two neighboring nuclear-armed nations.

After the terror attacks on America in September 2001, Musharraf was offered large U.S. aid packages in exchange for breaking ties with Afghanistan's Taliban. In exchange for additional aid, Pakistan provided some logistical support for America's war against that nation and, later, against Iraq. Another favor extended at this time was permitting intelligence chief Mahmoud Ahmad to retire quietly, despite his involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Ahmad had paid Mohammed Atta $100,000 of Pakistani government money.

The war in Afghanistan has not proven popular in Pakistan, a nation 97% Muslim and the world's sixth most populous overall. Many of its Muslims supported the Taliban and opposed the U.S. attacks, and sectarian violence is a growing problem in remote parts of Pakistan. There have been several assassination attempts against Musharraf, including a bomb on 14 December 2003, and two suicide bombers on 25 December 2003. The latter attack killed 16 people nearby, but not its target. Islamic terrorist Amjad Hussain Farooqi is suspected of being the mastermind behind these attempts, and there has since been an extensive manhunt for him.

In 2002, Musharraf enacted the Legal Framework Order (LFO), giving himself the absolute power to sack the prime minister and dissolve parliament, and formalizing his position as both head of the army and head of state. The opposition considers the LFO unconstitutional and not legally binding, not having been approved by parliament. He promised to step down in 2003, but dawdled continually, eventually ceding the role of military chief in 2007, and that of president in 2008.

Father: Syed Musharaff-ud-Din (diplomat, d.)
Mother: Begum Zarrin Musharraf (labor activist)
Brother: Naved Musharraf (doctor, lives in Chicago)
Wife: Sehba Musharraf (m. 28-Dec-1968)
Daughter: Ayla (architect)
Son: Bilal (hi-tech entrepreneur, lives in Boston)
Brother: Javed Musharraf

High School: Saint Patrick's High School, Karachi, Pakistan (1958)
University: Forman Christian College, Lahore, Pakistan
University: Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, Pakistan

President of Pakistan (2001-2008)
Assassination Attempt 14-Dec-2003 at Rawalpindi (bomb exploded)
Assassination Attempt 25-Dec-2003 (two suicide bombers, 16 others killed)
Assassination Attempt 6-Jul-2007 (anti-aircraft attack on his plane)


(8) President of Pakistan !!!

(8) Sardar Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari.

Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari was born at D. G. Khan on May 29, 1940. He comes from a family that has served as hereditary chiefs of the Leghari Tribe, and has been active in politics. His father, Nawab Muhammad Khan Leghari, and his grandfather, Nawab Jamal Khan Leghari, both were progressive leaders who introduced their Tribe to modern ideas. His father took prominent part in the Independence Movement and was confined as a political prisoner in 1946. After Independence, his father served as Minister in the Punjab Government from 1949 to 1955.

Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari did his graduation from Aitchison College, Lahore, and earned M. A. P. P. E. from Oxford University in 1963. In the same year, he joined the Civil Service of Pakistan and worked in various fields and Secretariat positions from 1964 to 1973. He left the Civil Service in 1973 on the invitation of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to join the P. P. P. In 1975, Farooq Leghari was elected Senator. In the 1977 election, he won the National Assembly seat from his ancestral constituency in Dera Ghazi Khan and was appointed Federal Minister for Production. In 1978, he was appointed Secretary General of the P. P. P. and participated in the struggle for the restoration of democracy. He remained Secretary General till 1983 and underwent four years of imprisonment during the Martial Law. Farooq Leghari was elected member of both National and Punjab Assembly in the 1988 elections, and was appointed Federal Minister for Water and Power from December 1989 up to August 1990. In October 1990 elections, he was re-elected member of the National Assembly and became Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

In the caretaker Cabinet in 1993, Farooq Leghari held the portfolio of the Federal Minister for Finance. During this period he presided over the 21st Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Karachi from April 25 to 29,1993. In the October 1993 general elections, he won the National Assembly seat and was appointed Federal Foreign Minister. Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari was elected President of Pakistan on November 13, 1993, and took oath the same day for a term of five years.

In February 1997, Mian Nawaz Sharif, a major political opponent of Farooq Leghari, was elected as the Prime Minister. With the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, a direct collision course with the Prime Minster was set. Due to the dilution of Pakistan Peoples Party's role in the assemblies, chances of Leghari's reelection as President in 1998 had also become bleak. On December 2, 1997, Farooq Leghari resigned as the President of Pakistan.

Instead of leading a retired life after his resignation from the office of President, Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari entered the political arena by forming his own political party, the Millat Party, on August 14, 1998, in Lahore. His party contested the 2002 election by joining the National Alliance. The National Alliance consisted of seven parties, which included National Peoples Party, National Awami Party, Sindh National Front, Sindh Democratic Alliance, Nizam-i-Mustafa Party, Baluchistan National Party and the Millat Party. Ghulam Mustafa Khan Jatoi led the National Alliance as the Chairman. Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari himself contested the elections from Dera Ghazi Khan and Chicha Watni and won from both seats.

The National Alliance was however unable to secure any major position in the elections. In the National Assembly they won 13 seats. In the Provincial Assembly elections they won 12 seats in Sindh, 12 in Punjab and five seats in Balochistan. They were, however, unable to secure any seats in the N. W. F. P. Province.

Despite the fact that the Millat Party and the National Alliance were unable to secure a large number of seats in the present elections, it is viewed that Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari and his Millat Party will play a key role in the new political set up.


(7) President of Pakistan !!!

(7) Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

Born: 20-Jan-1915
Birthplace: Ismailkhel, Bannu, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan
Died: 27-Oct-2006
Location of death: Peshawar, Pakistan
Cause of death: Pneumonia

Gender: Male
Religion: Muslim
Race or Ethnicity: Asian/Indian [1]
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Head of State

Nationality: Pakistan
Executive summary: President of Pakistan, 1988-93

Entered the Civil Service in 1947. Served as Chairman of the West Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (1961-66), Secretary at the Ministry of Finance (1966-70), Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (1971-75), and Secretary General at the Ministry of Defence (1975-77). After the overthrow of the Bhutto government and declaration of martial law, Ishaq Khan served as de facto Finance Minister (1977-85) and Chairman of the Pakistani Senate (1985-88). Became acting President in August 1988 after the death of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, and was formally elected in December of that year. As President, Khan twice dismissed the government over charges of corruption -- that of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 1990 and of Nawaz Sharif in 1993.

[1] Pashtun.

Wife: (m., four daughters, one son)

University: Chemistry and Botany

President of Pakistan (1988-93, resigned)
Pashtun Ancestry


(6) President of Pakistan !!!

(6) General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq [1924-88]

General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was the one who enforced Martial Law for the third time in the brief history of Pakistan. Second child and eldest son of Muhammad Akram, a teacher in the British Army, Zia-ul-Haq was born on August 12, 1924, at Jalandhar.

After receiving his early education from Government High School Simla, he did his B. A. Honors from St. Stephen College, Delhi. He was commissioned in the British Army in 1943 and served in Burma, Malaya and Indonesia during World War II. When the war was over, he decided to join the armored corps. At the time of Independence, like most of the Muslim officers in the British Army, Zia-ul-Haq opted to join the Pakistan Army. As a Major he got an opportunity to do a training course in the Commander and Staff College of United States of America in 1963-64. During the 1965 War, he acted as the Assistant Quarter Master of 101 Infantry Division, which was posted at the Kiran Sector. He remained posted in Jordan from 1967 till 1970, where he was involved in training Jordon's military. He was appointed as Corps Commander of Multan in 1975.

On April 1, 1976, in a surprise move the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, appointed Zia-ul-Haq as Chief of Army Staff, superseding five senior Generals. Bhutto probably wanted somebody as the head of the armed forces who would not prove to be a threat for him, and the best available option was the simple General who was apparently interested only in offering prayers and playing golf. However, history proved that General Zia-ul-Haq proved to be much smarter than Bhutto thought. When political tension reached its climax due to the deadlock between Bhutto and the leadership of Pakistan National Alliance on the issue of general elections, Zia-ul-Haq took advantage of the situation. On July 5, 1977, he carried out a bloodless coup overthrowing Bhutto's government and enforced Martial Law in the country.

After assuming power as Chief Martial Law Administrator, Zia-ul-Haq promised to hold National and Provincial Assembly elections in the next 90 days and to hand over power to the representatives of the Nation. However, in October 1977, he announced the postponement of the electoral plan and decided to start an accountability process of the politicians. In a statement, he said that he changed his decision due to the strong public demand for the scrutiny of political leaders who had indulged in malpractice in the past. The Disqualification Tribunal was formulated and many former Members of Parliament were disqualified from participating in politics at any level for the next seven years. A white paper was also issued which criticized the activities of Pakistan People Party's government under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

With the retirement of Fazal Ilahi, Zia-ul-Haq also assumed the office of President of Pakistan on September 16, 1978. In the absence of a Parliament, Zia-ul-Haq decided to set up an alternative system. He introduced Majlis-i-Shoora in 1980. Most of the members of the Shoora were intellectuals, scholars, ulema, journalists, economists and professionals belonging to different fields of life. The Shoora was to act as a board of advisors to the President. The idea of establishing this institution was not bad but the main problem was that all 284 members of the Shoora were to be nominated by the President and thus there was no room for dissention.

In the mid 80s, Zia-ul-Haq decided to fulfill his promise of holding elections in the country. But before handing over the power to the public representatives, he decided to secure his position. Referendum was held in the county in December 1984, and the masses were given the option to elect or reject the General as the future President of Pakistan. The question asked in the referendum was phrased in a way that Zia-ul-Haq's victory was related to the process of Islamization in the country. According to the official result, more than 95 percent of the votes were cast in favor of Zia-ul-Haq, thus he was elected as President for the next five years.

After being elected President, Zia-ul-Haq decided to hold elections in the country in February 1985 on a non-party basis. Most of the political parties decided to boycott the elections but election results showed that many victors belonged to one party or the other. To make things easier for himself, the General nominated the Prime Minister from amongst the Members of the Assembly. To many, his nomination of Muhammad Khan Junejo as the Prime Minister was because he wanted a simple person at the post who would act as a puppet in his hands. Before handing over the power to the new Government he made certain Amendments in the Constitution and got them endorsed from the Parliament before lifting the state of emergency in the county. Due to this Eighth Amendment in the Constitution, the powers of the President were increased to an absolute level on the plea of safeguarding national integrity.

As time passed, the Parliamentarians wanted to have more freedom and power. By the beginning of 1988, rumors about the differences between the Prime Minister and Zia-ul-Haq were rife. The general feeling was that the President, who had enjoyed absolute power for eight long years, was not ready to share it with anybody else. On May 29, 1988, Zia-ul-Haq finally dissolved the National Assembly and removed the Prime Minister under article 58(2) b of the amended Constitution. Apart from many other reasons, Junejo's decision to sign the Geneva Accord against the wishes of Zia-ul-Haq proved to be one of the major factors responsible for his removal.

After 11 years, Zia-ul-Haq once again made the same promise to the Nation to hold fresh elections within next 90 days. With Benazir Bhutto back in the country and the Muslim League leadership annoyed with the President over the decision of May 29, Zia-ul-Haq was trapped in the most difficult situation of his political life. The only option left for him was to repeat history and to postpone the elections once again.

However, before taking any decision, Zia-ul-Haq died in an air crash near Bhawalpur on August 17, 1988. The accident proved to be very costly for the country as almost the entire military elite of Pakistan was onboard. Though United States' Ambassador to Pakistan was also killed in the misfortune, yet many do not rule out U. S. involvement in the sabotage. They believe that United States could not afford Pakistan to oppose Geneva Accord and thus they removed the biggest hurdle in their way. The remains of Zia-ul-Haq were buried in the premises of Faisal Mosque, Islamabad. His death brought a large number of mourners to attend his funeral, including a large number of Afghanis, which proved to be one of the biggest in the history of the country.

During his rule, Zia-ul-Haq tried his utmost to maintain close ties with the Muslim World. He made vigorous efforts along with other Muslim States to bring an end to the war between Iran and Iraq. Pakistan joined the Non-Aligned Movement in 1979 during Zia-ul-Haq's term. He also fought a war by proxy in Afghanistan and saved Pakistan from a direct war with Soviet Union.


(5) President of Pakistan !!!

(5) Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry.

Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry was born on January 1, 1904, in Gujrat. He received his early education from his hometown and went to Aligarh University for higher education. He did his M. A. in Political Science in 1925 and took his degree of Law from the University of Punjab in 1927. After completing his education, he went back to Gujrat and started practicing Law. He took part in the election of Gujrat District Board and was elected unopposed.

He joined the Muslim League in 1942. In 1945, he was elected from Gujrat as the President of Muslim League. He took part in the 1946 elections on Muslim League's ticket and played an important role in propagating the ideas of Muslim League among the people of his area.

After Independence, he was given the post of Parliamentary Secretary. He was later appointed Minister for Education and Health. In 1951, he contested the elections of the Punjab Legislative Assembly on the Muslim League ticket and was elected as a member of the Punjab Assembly. In 1952, he represented Pakistan in the United Nations. In the 1956 elections, he was elected as member of the Assembly and later as the Speaker of the National Assembly. He remained as Speaker till 1958. In 1962, when Ayub Khan announced the elections, he was selected as the Deputy Opposition Leader of the House on the basis of his experience and knowledge about parliamentary proceedings. He joined the Convention Muslim League, and after the 1956 elections, he was elected as the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.

He was elected as member of the National Assembly in 1970 on the ticket of Pakistan Peoples Party and was later elected as the Speaker of the National Assembly. After the 1973 Constitution, Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry was made the President of Pakistan for five years on August 14, 1973. On July 5, 1977, the army took over the reigns of power in the country. Fazal Ilahi, however, completed his tenure as President of Pakistan. He resigned on September 16, 1978.

He died on June 2, 1982.


(4) President of Pakistan !!!

(4) Zulfikar Ali Bhutto [1928-1979]

Zulfiqar Ali BhuttoZulfiqar Ali Bhutto was born on January 5, 1928. He was the only son of Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto completed his early education from Bombay's Cathedral High School. In 1947, he joined the University of Southern California, and later the University of California at Berkeley in June 1949. After completing his degree with honors in Political Science at Berkeley in June 1950, he was admitted to Oxford.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto married Nusrat Isphahani on September 8, 1951. He was called to Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1953, and the same year his first child, Benazir Bhutto, was born on June 21. On his return to Pakistan, Bhutto started practicing Law at Dingomal's.

In 1958, he joined President Iskander Mirza's Cabinet as Commerce Minister. He was the youngest Minister in Ayub Khans Cabinet. In 1963, he took over the post of Foreign Minister from Muhammad Ali Bogra.

His first major achievement was to conclude the Sino-Pakistan boundary agreement on March 2, 1963. In mid 1964, Bhutto helped convince Ayub of the wisdom of establishing closer economic and diplomatic links with Turkey and Iran. The trio later on formed the R. C. D. In June 1966, Bhutto left Ayub's Cabinet over differences concerning the Tashkent Agreement.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto launched Pakistan Peoples Party after leaving Ayub's Cabinet. In the general elections held in December 1970, P. P. P. won a large majority in West Pakistan but failed to reach an agreement with Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman, the majority winner from East Pakistan. Following the 1971 War and the separation of East Pakistan, Yahya Khan resigned and Bhutto took over as President and Chief Martial Law Administrator on December 20, 1971.

In early 1972, Bhutto nationalized ten categories of major industries, and withdrew Pakistan from the Commonwealth of Nations and S. E. A. T. O. when Britain and other western countries recognized the new state of Bangladesh. On March 1, he introduced land reforms, and on July 2, 1972, signed the Simla Agreement with India, which paved the way for the return of occupied lands and the release of Pakistani prisoners captured in East Pakistan in the 1971 war.

After the National Assembly passed the 1973 Constitution, Bhutto was sworn-in as the Prime Minister of the country.

On December 30, 1973, Bhutto laid the foundation of Pakistan's first steel mill at Pipri, near Karachi. On January 1, 1974, Bhutto nationalized all banks. On February 22, 1974, the second Islamic Summit was inaugurated in Lahore. Heads of States of most of the 38 Islamic countries attended the Summit.

Following a political crisis in the country, Bhutto was imprisoned by General Zia-ul-Haq, who imposed Martial Law on July 5, 1977.

On April 4, 1979, the former Prime Minister was hanged, after the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence passed by the Lahore High Court. The High Court had given him the death sentence on charges of murder of the father of a dissident P. P. P. politician.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was buried in his ancestral village at Garhi Khuda Baksh, next to his father's grave.


(3) President of Pakistan

(3) General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan.

General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan was born at Chakwal in February 1917. His father, Saadat Ali Khan hailed from Peshawar. After completing his studies from the Punjab University, Yahya Khan joined the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. He was commissioned in the Indian Army in 1938. His early postings were in the North West Frontier Province. During World War II, he performed his duties in North Africa, Iraq and Italy. After Independence, Yahya Khan played a major role in setting up the Pakistan Staff College at Quetta. During the war of 1965, he commanded an infantry division. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army in 1966 with the rank of General.

When, in 1969, countrywide agitation rendered the situation out of control, Ayub Khan decided to hand over power to the Army Chief, General Yahya Khan. Immediately after coming to power, Yahya Khan declared Martial Law in the country on March 25, 1969, and assumed the title of Chief Martial Law Administrator. He terminated the Constitution and dissolved the National and Provincial Assemblies. On March 31, he also became President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Unlike Pakistan's other military rulers, Yahya Khan was not interested in prolonging his rule. Immediately after taking charge of the country, he started looking for options through which he could hand over power to the elected representatives. On March 29, 1970, through an Ordinance, he presented an interim Constitution, the Legal Framework Order. It was actually a formula according to which the forthcoming elections were to be organized. It goes to the credit of Yahya Khan that the first general elections in the history of Pakistan were held during his regime in December 1970.

The trouble started when the results of the elections were announced. The Awami League, under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman, swept 160 out of 162 seats allocated to East Pakistan. However, the party failed to get even a single seat from any province of the Western Wing. On the other hand, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party emerged as the single largest party from Punjab and Sindh and managed to win 81 National Assembly seats, all from the Western Wing. This split mandate resulted in political chaos where neither Bhutto nor Mujib was ready to accept his opponent as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. When Bhutto and Mujib failed to reach an understanding about convening a session of the newly elected National Assembly, the ball fell in Yahya Khan's court. He handled the situation badly. He used army and paramilitary forces in East Pakistan to crush the political agitation. This resulted in the beginning of the war between Pakistan and India in the winter of 1971.

Yahya Khan, as President as well as the Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army, failed to plan the war. This ultimately resulted in the defeat of Pakistan, dismemberment of the country and imprisonment of more than 90,000 Pakistanis. Surrender of Pakistani forces without any resistance and the fall of Dhaka made Yahya Khan the greatest villain in the country. People from all walks of life started criticizing him and thus he was left with no other option but to hand over the power to the leader of the most popular party of the remaining part of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, on December 20, 1971. Later Bhutto placed Yahya Khan under house arrest in 1972.

Yahya Khan died on August 10, 1980, in Rawalpindi.


(2) President of Pakistan

(2) Ayub Khan.

president of Pakistan from 1958 to 1969, whose rule marked a critical period in the modern development of his nation.

In January 1951, Ayub Khan succeeded General Sir Douglas Gracey as
commander in chief of the Pakistan Army, becoming the first Pakistani in
that position. Although Ayub Khan's military career was not particularly
brilliant and although he had not previously held a combat command, he
was promoted over several senior officers with distinguished careers.
Ayub Khan probably was selected because of his reputation as an able
administrator, his presumed lack of political ambition, and his lack of
powerful group backing. Coming from a humble family of an obscure
Pakhtun tribe, Ayub Khan also lacked affiliation with major internal
power blocks and was, therefore, acceptable to all elements.

Within a short time of his promotion, however, Ayub Khan had become a
powerful political figure. Perhaps more than any other Pakistani, Ayub
Khan was responsible for seeking and securing military and economic
assistance from the United States and for aligning Pakistan with it in
international affairs. As army commander in chief and for a time as
minister of defense in 1954, Ayub Khan was empowered to veto virtually
any government policy that he felt was inimical to the interests of the
armed forces.

By 1958 Ayub Khan and his fellow officers decided to turn out the
"inefficient and rascally" politicians--a task easily
accomplished without bloodshed. Ayub Khan's philosophy was indebted to
the Mughal and viceregal traditions; his rule was similarly highly
personalized. Ayub Khan justified his assumption of power by citing the
nation's need for stability and the necessity for the army to play a
central role. When internal stability broke down in the 1960s, he
remained contemptuous of lawyer-politicians and handed over power to his
fellow army officers.

Ayub Khan used two main approaches to governing in his first few
years. He concentrated on consolidating power and intimidating the
opposition. He also aimed to establish the groundwork for future
stability through altering the economic, legal, and constitutional

The imposition of martial law in 1958 targeted "antisocial"
practices such as abducting women and children, black marketeering,
smuggling, and hoarding. Many in the Civil Service of Pakistan and
Police Service of Pakistan were investigated and punished for
corruption, misconduct, inefficiency, or subversive activities. Ayub
Khan's message was clear: he, not the civil servants, was in control.

Sterner measures were used against the politicians. The PRODA
prescribed fifteen years' exclusion from public office for those found
guilty of corruption. The Elective Bodies Disqualification Order (EBDO)
authorized special tribunals to try former politicians for
"misconduct," an infraction not clearly defined. Prosecution
could be avoided if the accused agreed not to be a candidate for any
elective body for a period of seven years. About 7,000 individuals were
"EBDOed." Some people, including Suhrawardy, who was arrested,
fought prosecution.

The Press and Publications Ordinance was amended in 1960 to specify
broad conditions under which newspapers and other publications could be
commandeered or closed down. Trade organizations, unions, and student
groups were closely monitored and cautioned to avoid political activity,
and imams at mosques were warned against including political matters in

On the whole, however, the martial law years were not severe. The
army maintained low visibility and was content to uphold the traditional
social order. By early 1959, most army units had resumed their regular
duties. Ayub Khan generally left administration in the hands of the
civil bureaucracy, with some exceptions.

Efforts were made to popularize the regime while the opposition was
muzzled. Ayub Khan maintained a high public profile, often taking trips
expressly to "meet the people." He was also aware of the need
to address some of the acute grievances of East Pakistan. To the extent
possible, only Bengali members of the civil service were posted in the
East Wing; previously, many of the officers had been from the West Wing
and knew neither the region nor the language. Dhaka was designated the
legislative capital of Pakistan, while the newly created Islamabad
became the administrative capital. Central government bodies, such as
the Planning Commission, were now instructed to hold regular sessions in
Dhaka. Public investment in East Pakistan increased, although private
investment remained heavily skewed in favor of West Pakistan. The Ayub
Khan regime was so highly centralized, however, that, in the absence of
democratic institutions, densely populated and politicized Bengal
continued to feel it was being slighted.

Between 1958 and 1962, Ayub Khan used martial law to initiate a
number of reforms that reduced the power of groups opposing him. One
such group was the landed aristocracy. The Land Reform Commission was
set up in 1958, and in 1959 the government imposed a ceiling of 200
hectares of irrigated land and 400 hectares of unirrigated land in the
West Wing for a single holding. In the East Wing, the landholding
ceiling was raised from thirty-three hectares to forty-eight hectares.
Landholders retained their dominant positions in the social hierarchy
and their political influence but heeded Ayub Khan's warnings against
political assertiveness. Moreover, some 4 million hectares of land in
West Pakistan, much of it in Sindh, was released for public acquisition
between 1959 and 1969 and sold mainly to civil and military officers,
thus creating a new class of farmers having medium-sized holdings. These
farms became immensely important for future agricultural development,
but the peasants benefited scarcely at all.

In 1955 a legal commission was set up to suggest reforms of the
family and marriage laws. Ayub Khan examined its report and in 1961
issued the Family Laws Ordinance. Among other things, it restricted
polygyny and "regulated" marriage and divorce, giving women
more equal treatment under the law than they had had before. It was a
humane measure supported by women's organizations in Pakistan, but the
ordinance could not have been promulgated if the vehement opposition to
it from the ulama and the fundamentalist Muslim groups had been allowed
free expression. However, this law which was similar to the one passed
on family planning, was relatively mild and did not seriously transform
the patriarchal pattern of society.

Ayub Khan adopted an energetic approach toward economic development
that soon bore fruit in a rising rate of economic growth. Land reform,
consolidation of holdings, and stern measures against hoarding were
combined with rural credit programs and work programs, higher
procurement prices, augmented allocations for agriculture, and,
especially, improved seeds to put the country on the road to
self-sufficiency in food grains in the process described as the Green

The Export Bonus Vouchers Scheme (1959) and tax incentives stimulated
new industrial entrepreneurs and exporters. Bonus vouchers facilitated
access to foreign exchange for imports of industrial machinery and raw
materials. Tax concessions were offered for investment in less-developed
areas. These measures had important consequences in bringing industry to
Punjab and gave rise to a new class of small industrialists.

Basic Democracies

Ayub Khan's martial law regime, critics observed, was a form of
"representational dictatorship," but the new political system,
introduced in 1959 as "Basic Democracy," was an apt expression
of what Ayub Khan called the particular "genius" of Pakistan.
In 1962 a new constitution was promulgated as a product of that indirect
elective system. Ayub Khan did not believe that a sophisticated
parliamentary democracy was suitable for Pakistan. Instead, the Basic
Democracies, as the individual administrative units were called, were
intended to initiate and educate a largely illiterate population in the
working of government by giving them limited representation and
associating them with decision making at a "level commensurate with
their ability." Basic Democracies were concerned with no more than
local government and rural development. They were meant to provide a
two-way channel of communication between the Ayub Khan regime and the
common people and allow social change to move slowly.

The Basic Democracies system set up five tiers of institutions. The
lowest but most important tier was composed of union councils, one each
for groups of villages having an approximate total population of 10,000.
Each union council comprised ten directly elected members and five
appointed members, all called Basic Democrats. Union councils were
responsible for local agricultural and community development and for
rural law and order maintenance; they were empowered to impose local
taxes for local projects. These powers, however, were more than balanced
at the local level by the fact that the controlling authority for the
union councils was the deputy commissioner, whose high status and
traditionally paternalistic attitudes often elicited obedient
cooperation rather than demands.

The next tier consisted of the tehsil (subdistrict)
councils, which performed coordination functions. Above them, the
district (zilla) councils, chaired by the deputy commissioners,
were composed of nominated official and nonofficial members, including
the chairmen of union councils. The district councils were assigned both
compulsory and optional functions pertaining to education, sanitation,
local culture, and social welfare. Above them, the divisional advisory
councils coordinated the activities with representatives of government
departments. The highest tier consisted of one development advisory
council for each province, chaired by the governor and appointed by the
president. The urban areas had a similar arrangement, under which the
smaller union councils were grouped together into municipal committees
to perform similar duties. In 1960 the elected members of the union
councils voted to confirm Ayub Khan's presidency, and under the 1962
constitution they formed an electoral college to elect the president,
the National Assembly, and the provincial assemblies.

The system of Basic Democracies did not have time to take root or to
fulfill Ayub Khan's intentions before he and the system fell in 1969.
Whether or not a new class of political leaders equipped with some
administrative experience could have emerged to replace those trained in
British constitutional law was never discovered. And the system did not
provide for the mobilization of the rural population around institutions
of national integration. Its emphasis was on economic development and
social welfare alone. The authority of the civil service was augmented
in the Basic Democracies, and the power of the landlords and the big
industrialists in the West Wing went unchallenged.

The 1962 Constitution

In 1958 Ayub Khan had promised a speedy return to constitutional
government. In February 1960, an eleven-member constitutional commission
was established. The commission's recommendations for direct elections,
strong legislative and judicial organs, free political parties, and
defined limitations on presidential authority went against Ayub Khan's
philosophy of government, so he ordered other committees to make

The 1962 constitution retained some aspects of the Islamic nature of
the republic but omitted the word Islamic in its original
version; amid protests, Ayub Khan added that word later. The president
would be a Muslim, and the Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology and the
Islamic Research Institute were established to assist the government in
reconciling all legislation with the tenets of the Quran and the sunna.
Their functions were advisory and their members appointed by the
president, so the ulama had no real power base.

Ayub Khan sought to retain certain aspects of his dominant authority
in the 1962 constitution, which ended the period of martial law. The
document created a presidential system in which the traditional powers
of the chief executive were augmented by control of the legislature, the
power to issue ordinances, the right of appeal to referendum, protection
from impeachment, control over the budget, and special emergency powers,
which included the power to suspend civil rights. As the 1965 elections
showed, the presidential system of government was opposed by those who
equated constitutional government with parliamentary democracy. The 1962
constitution relaxed martial law limitations on personal freedom and
made fundamental rights justiciable. The courts continued their
traditional function of protecting the rights of individual citizens
against encroachment by the government, but the government made it clear
that the exercise of claims based on fundamental rights would not be
permitted to nullify its previous progressive legislation on land
reforms and family laws.

The National Assembly, consisting of 156 members (including six
women) and elected by an electoral college of 80,000 Basic Democrats,
was established as the federal legislature. Legislative powers were
divided between the National Assembly and provincial legislative
assemblies. The National Assembly was to hold sessions alternatively in
Islamabad and Dhaka; the Supreme Court would also hold sessions in
Dhaka. The ban on political parties was operational at the time of the
first elections to the National Assembly and provincial legislative
assemblies in January 1960, as was the prohibition on "EBDOed"
politicians. Many of those elected were new and merged into factions
formed on the basis of personal or provincial loyalties. Despite the
ban, political parties functioned outside the legislative bodies as
vehicles of criticism and formers of opinion. In late 1962, political
parties were again legalized and factions crystallized into government
and opposition groups. Ayub Khan combined fragments of the old Muslim
League and created the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) as the official
government party.

The presidential election of January 1965 resulted in a victory for
Ayub Khan but also demonstrated the appeal of the opposition. Four
political parties joined to form the Combined Opposition Parties (COP).
These parties were the Council Muslim League, strongest in Punjab and
Karachi; the Awami League, strongest in East Pakistan; the National
Awami Party, strongest in the North-West Frontier Province, where it
stood for dissolving the One Unit Plan; and the Jamaat-i-Islami,
surprisingly supporting the candidacy of a woman. The COP nominated
Fatima Jinnah (sister of the Quaid-i-Azam and known as Madar-i-Millet,
the Mother of the Nation) their presidential candidate. The nine-point
program put forward by the COP emphasized the restoration of
parliamentary democracy. Ayub Khan won 63.3 percent of the electoral
college vote. His majority was larger in West Pakistan (73.6 percent)
than in East Pakistan (53.1 percent).

Ayub Khan's Foreign Policy and the 1965 War with India

Ayub Khan articulated his foreign policy on several occasions,
particularly in his autobiography, Friends not Masters. His
objectives were the security and development of Pakistan and the
preservation of its ideology as he saw it. Toward these ends, he sought
to improve, or normalize, relations with Pakistan's immediate and
looming neighbors--India, China, and the Soviet Union. While retaining
and renewing the alliance with the United States, Ayub Khan emphasized
his preference for friendship, not subordination, and bargained hard for
higher returns to Pakistan.

Other than ideology and Kashmir, the main source of friction between
Pakistan and India was the distribution of the waters of the Indus River
system. As the upper riparian power, India controlled the headworks of
the prepartition irrigation canals. After independence India had, in
addition, constructed several multipurpose projects on the eastern
tributaries of the Indus. Pakistan feared that India might repeat a 1948
incident that curtailed the water supply as a means of coercion. A
compromise that appeared to meet the needs of both countries was reached
during the 1950s; it was not until 1960 that a solution finally found
favor with Ayub Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 was backed by the World Bank and the
United States. Broadly speaking, the agreement allocated use of the
three western Indus rivers (the Indus itself and its tributaries, the
Jhelum and the Chenab) to Pakistan, and the three eastern Indus
tributaries (the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej) to India. The basis of the plan
was that irrigation canals in Pakistan that had been supplied by the
eastern rivers would begin to draw water from the western Indus rivers
through a system of barrages and link canals. The agreement also
detailed transitional arrangements, new irrigation and hydroelectric
power works, and the waterlogging and salinity problems in Pakistan's
Punjab. The Indus Basin Development Fund was established and financed by
the World Bank, the major contributors to the Aid-to-Pakistan
Consortium, and India.

Pakistan's tentative approaches to China intensified in 1959 when
China's occupation of Tibet and the flight of the Dalai Lama to India
ended five years of Chinese-Indian friendship. An entente between
Pakistan and China evolved in inverse ratio to Sino-Indian hostility,
which climaxed in a border war in 1962. This informal alliance became a
keystone of Pakistan's foreign policy and grew to include a border
agreement in March 1963, highway construction connecting the two
countries at the Karakoram Pass, agreements on trade, and Chinese
economic assistance and grants of military equipment, which was later
thought to have included exchanges in nuclear technology. China's
diplomatic support and transfer of military equipment was important to
Pakistan during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War over Kashmir. China's new
diplomatic influence in the UN was also exerted on Pakistan's behalf
after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Ayub Khan's foreign minister,
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, is often credited for this China policy, which gave
Pakistan new flexibility in its international relationships. The entente
deepened during the Zia regime (1977-88).

The Soviet Union strongly disapproved of Pakistan's alliance with the
United States, but Moscow was interested in keeping doors open to both
Pakistan and India. Ayub Khan was able to secure Soviet neutrality
during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War.

Ayub Khan was the architect of Pakistan's policy of close alignment
with the United States, and his first major foreign policy act was to
sign bilateral economic and military agreements with the United States
in 1959. Nevertheless, Ayub Khan expected more from these agreements
than the United States was willing to offer and thus remained critical
of the role the United States played in South Asia. He was vehemently
opposed to simultaneous United States support, direct or indirect, for
India's military, especially when this assistance was augmented in the
wake of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Ayub Khan maintained, as did many
Pakistanis, that in return for the use of Pakistani military facilities,
the United States owed Pakistan security allegiance in all cases, not
merely in response to communist aggression. Especially troublesome to
Pakistan was United States neutrality during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani
War. The United States stance at this time was a contributing factor to
Pakistan's closing of United States communications and intelligence
facilities near Peshawar. Pakistan did not extend the ten-year agreement
signed in 1959.

The 1965 war began as a series of border flare-ups along undemarcated
territory at the Rann of Kutch in the southeast in April and soon after
along the cease-fire line in Kashmir. The Rann of Kutch conflict was
resolved by mutual consent and British sponsorship and arbitration, but
the Kashmir conflict proved more dangerous and widespread. In the early
spring of 1965, UN observers and India reported increased activity by
infiltrators from Pakistan into Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan hoped to
support an uprising by Kashmiris against India. No such uprising took
place, and by August India had retaken Pakistani-held positions in the
north while Pakistan attacked in the Chamb sector in southwestern
Kashmir in September. Each country had limited objectives, and neither
was economically capable of sustaining a long war because military
supplies were cut to both countries by the United States and Britain.

On September 23, a cease-fire was arranged through the UN Security
Council. In January 1966, Ayub Khan and India's prime minister, Lal
Bahadur Shastri, signed the Tashkent Declaration, which formally ended
hostilities and called for a mutual withdrawal of forces. This
objectively statesmanlike act elicited an adverse reaction in West
Pakistan. Students as well as politicians demonstrated in urban areas,
and many were arrested. The Tashkent Declaration was the turning point
in the political fortunes of the Ayub Khan administration.

In February 1966, a national conference was held in Lahore, where all
the opposition parties convened to discuss their differences and their
common interests. The central issue discussed was the Tashkent
Declaration, which most of the assembled politicians characterized as
Ayub Khan's unnecessary capitulation to India. More significant,
perhaps, was the noticeable underrepresentation of politicians from the
East Wing. About 700 persons attended the conference, but only
twenty-one were from the East Wing. They were led by Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman (known as Mujib) of the Awami League, who presented his
controversial six-point political and economic program for East
Pakistani provincial autonomy. The six points consisted of the following
demands that the government be federal and parliamentary in nature, its
members elected by universal adult suffrage with legislative
representation on the basis of distribution of population; that the
federal government have principal responsibility for foreign affairs and
defense only; that each wing have its own currency and separate fiscal
accounts; that taxation occur at the provincial level, with a federal
government funded by constitutionally guaranteed grants; that each
federal unit control its own earnings of foreign exchange; and that each
unit raise its own militia or paramilitary forces.

Ayub Khan's also lost the services of Minister of Foreign Affairs
Bhutto, who resigned became a vocal opposition leader, and founded the
Pakistan People's Party (PPP). By 1968 it was obvious that except for
the military and the civil service, Ayub Khan had lost most of his
support. Ayub Khan's illness in February 1968 and the alleged corruption
of members of his family further weakened his position. In West
Pakistan, Bhutto's PPP called for a "revolution"; in the east,
the Awami League's six points became the rallying cry of the opposition.

In October 1968, the government sponsored a celebration called the
Decade of Development. Instead of reminding people of the achievements
of the Ayub Khan regime, the festivities highlighted the frustrations of
the urban poor afflicted by inflation and the costs of the 1965 war. For
the masses, Ayub Khan had become the symbol of inequality. Bhutto
capitalized on this and challenged Ayub Khan at the ballot box. In East
Pakistan, dissatisfaction with the system went deeper than opposition to
Ayub Khan. In January 1969, several opposition parties formed the
Democratic Action Committee with the declared aim of restoring democracy
through a mass movement.

Ayub Khan reacted by alternating conciliation and repression.
Disorder spread. The army moved into Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Dhaka,
and Khulna to restore order. In rural areas of East Pakistan, a curfew
was ineffective; local officials sensed government control ebbing and
began retreating from the incipient peasant revolt. In February Ayub
Khan released political prisoners, invited the Democratic Action
Committee and others to meet him in Rawalpindi, promised a new
constitution, and said he would not stand for reelection in 1970. Still
in poor health and lacking the confidence of his generals, Ayub Khan
sought a political settlement as violence continued.

On March 25, 1969, martial law was again proclaimed; General Agha
Mohammad Yahya Khan, the army commander in chief, was designated chief
martial law administrator (CMLA). The 1962 constitution was abrogated,
Ayub Khan announced his resignation, and Yahya Khan assumed the
presidency. Yahya Khan soon promised elections on the basis of adult
franchise to the National Assembly, which would draw up a new
constitution. He also entered into discussions with leaders of political


(1) President of Pakistan

(1) Iskander Mirza.

Iskander Mirza was born on November 15, 1899, in a feudal family of Bengal. Educated at Elphinstone College, the British sent him to the Sandhurst Academy in England for army training in 1918. Upon his return he was inducted into the British Indian Army in 1919. In 1926, he left the army, joined the Indian Political Service and was posted as Assistant Commissioner in North West Frontier Province. He was promoted to District Officer in 1931. Much of his career as a District Officer was spent in the Tribal Areas. Before the creation of Pakistan, he served the Ministry of Defense, Government of India, as a Joint Secretary. At the time of Partition, he was appointed as a member of the team that was to divide the personnel and assets between the Indian and Pakistan Army.

Being the senior-most Muslim Civil Servant in the Indian Ministry of Defense, Iskander Mirza was appointed as the first Defense Secretary of Pakistan at the time of Independence. He served at this position for about seven years. With the dismissal of the United Front's Ministry in East Pakistan, Governor General Ghulam Muhammad decided to enforce Governor's Rule in the province and appointed Iskander Mirza as Governor in May 1954.

Assuming charge of the province, he openly declared that he would not hesitate to use force in order to establish peace in the province. The first step he took as Governor was to order the arrest of 319 persons, including the two most outspoken leaders, Mujib-ur-Rahman and Yousaf Ali Chaudhry. By mid June, the number of persons arrested had reached 1,051, including 33 Assembly Members and two Dhaka University Professors. By doing so he was able to bring immediate peace, but in the process had sown a permanent seed of hatred for the Central Government in the hearts of the people of East Pakistan.

From October 1954 to August 1955, Iskander Mirza served as the Interior Minister, and then as the Minister of States and Frontier Regions in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Bogra. Ghulam Muhammad, due to his illness, went on a two months leave and left the ground for Iskander Mirza to assume the post of acting Governor General on August 7, 1955. However, this temporary charge was soon made permanent. He appointed Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, another bureaucrat, as the Prime Minister of the country. When the Constitution of 1956 was adopted, the title of the head of state of Pakistan was changed from Governor General to President, but the duties and powers associated with the office did not change to a great extent. The Constituent Assembly unanimously elected Iskander Mirza as the first President of Pakistan.

Primarily, Iskander Mirza was a Civil Servant and it is widely believed that he lacked the parliamentary spirit. He was of the view that because of the lack of training in the field of democracy and the low literacy rate amongst the masses, democratic institutions cannot flourish in Pakistan. He never had a very high opinion about Pakistani politicians and once referred to them as "mostly crooks and scalawags". He wanted controlled democracy for Pakistan with more powers for the civil bureaucracy. He believed that the Magistrates should be given the same powers, which they used to enjoy during the British Raj. He thought that politicians should be given the power to make policy but they should not interfere in the administration. Iskander Mirza was also a great advocate of the One Unit scheme. In his opinion religion was to be kept at a distance from politics.

History documents that like his predecessor Ghulam Muhammad, Iskander Mirza was a power hungry person and wanted to dominate the political scene of the country by any way possible. Being the head of state, he always remained active in power politics and played the role of a kingmaker. He took full advantage of the weakness of politicians and played them against each other. To offset the influence of the Muslim League, he played an active role in the creation of the Republican Party. During his short span of four years as the head of state, four Prime Ministers were changed. Most historians believe that Iskander Mirza was responsible for this political instability.

Iskander Mirza felt threatened by the reorganization of the Muslim League and the alliance of the Awami League with the Punjabi groups in mid 1958. On October 7, he issued a proclamation abrogating the 1956 Constitution. According to the proclamation, the Central and the Provincial Assemblies were dissolved and the first Martial Law was enforced in the country. Iskander Mirza himself remained President and appointed Ayub Khan as the Martial Law Administrator and the Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Ayub Khan proved to be smarter than the politicians and refused to act as puppet in the hands of the President. On October 27, 1958, Ayub Khan compelled Iskander Mirza to leave the country, assumed himself the title of President, and announced that Martial Law would continue in order to give legal cover to certain reforms he wanted to put through.

Iskander Mirza spent rest of his life in a hotel room in London. He died on November 15 1969.


Pakistani University Rankings !!!

Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has recently released the university rankings of Pakistan. The rankings are generating so much interest that I am receiving four to five emails daily with people forwarding me the same link to HEC’s ranking web page. (Scroll down to see rankings and details).

I am kind of disappointed with my alma-mater, NED University of Engineering and Technology Karachi, ranked at number 10 out of the 13 Engineering Universities of Pakistan. The photo to the right-below shows few views of NED University.

I genuinely and of course with a little bias think that NED university should have been ranked among the top 3. When I make such claim; I do it on the basis of sheer engineering talent I’ve personally seen at NED. But rankings do not take into account the student talent. They look at finances, faculty, number of students etc. My university mates as well as the university officials have already started the discussion on how to improve the rankings next year. This discussion is going on at many NED online alumni groups. I am sure similar discussions are going on within other university alumni too. This I think, is a positive sign of publishing a list like this as it does create competition.

Here are the key leaders in the ranking:

Agriculture / Veterinary

1. University of Agriculture (UAF), Faisalabad
2. NWFP University of Agriculture , Peshawar
3. University of Arid Agriculture, Rawalpindi
4. Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam

Art / Design
1. National College of Arts, Lahore
2. Textile Institute of Pakistan, Karachi
3. Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture, Karachi

Business / I.T.
1. Lahore Uni. of Management Sciences (LUMS), Lahore
2. Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi
3. Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Sci. & Tech. Karachi
4. Iqra University, Defence View, Karachi
5. Lahore School of Economics (LSE) , Lahore
6. Institute of Business Management (IBM), Karachi

1. Pakistan Institute of Engg. and Applied Sciences, Islamabad
2. National University of Sciences & Technology Rawalpindi
3. Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering, Swabi
4. University of Engg. & Technology (UET), Lahore
5. Mehran University of Engg. & Technology (MUET), Jamshoro
6. University of Engg. & Technology (UET), Taxila

1. Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad
2. University of the Punjab, Lahore
3. University of Karachi, Karachi
4. University of Peshawar, Peshawar
5. Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan
6. Government College Lahore University, Lahore

Health Sciences
1. Aga Khan University, Karachi
2. Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro
3. Baqai Medical University, Karachi
4. Zia-ud-din Medical University, Karachi

You can have a look at the complete rankings, including the scores, the criteria and the methodology of scoring here . I would like to hear your opinion.

ATP’s another post related to University Education and rankings system can be seen here.


The Wonders of Deosai Plains Pakistan

S.A.J Shirazi

All those who take there chance to Siachin sector (via Skardu, the valleys of Shigar, Khaplu, Kharmong, Rondu and onwards), purposefully visit to see northern areas of Pakistan and or plan to have rendezvous with fairies do pass though Deosai Plains – a plateau among high mountains and unique landscape in the world.

I first got acquainted with the area when Siachin sector was active. Later, when ever I visited the area, one plan that I always had in mind was to meet the fairies there.

Baikal is what I am reminded of when ever I see the Sadpara Lake situated at a short drive (an easy walk) south of Skardu. The walk along the torrent is more pleasant and shorter than following the jeep road. The lake surrounded by bare mountains abounds in fish, and is an ideal place just to sit there and think of fairies. Who wants fishing any way!

A meditating Buddha carved on the northern face of a large rock about half way between Skardu and Sadpara is of interest mostly for the foreign tourists. It is off the road across the Sadpara stream: cross a footbridge over the stream and up to the slope on the other side at Manthal. The Buddha, carved on a big rust brown rock, perhaps in the 7th century, is the same style as one at Kargha near Gilgit.

The Deosai Plateau, known as the highest plateau in the world is located at the boundary of the Karakoram and the western Himalayas. Deosai Plains are a backwoods country at about 30 kilometres from Skardu. It is a beautiful summer pasture with greenery and countless species of Fiona flora. The view of the Karakorum Range from the top of the 4785 meter pass is legendary. Apart from fairies, this plateau is the habitat of the greatly threatened Himalayan Brown Bear and many other wild animals. Although few people will see a bear, quite a few are said to make their homes in the heart of the plateau. At an average elevation of 3500 metre, Deosai officially is a National Park and protected area for wildlife.

The undulating meadows here have no trees or shrubs and the area is snow covered for most parts of the year. Spring comes to Deosai late when millions of wild flowers begin to bloom all over the lush green grassland. This is a time when Deosai looks like a fairies land with a landscape full of wild flowers on green rolling hills and crystal clear water streams with snow covered peaks in the background. That is the seasons when most travellers go to the area.

On my way to Gunma, at Deosai, army men break their journey at Sheosar Lake. This place offers beautiful views of distant peaks and a panoramic view of Deosai Plains. At Bara Pani, one may spend hours in a hope to watch a Bear or you may enjoy fishing in the cold waters of Barwai Stream. From Deosai, you can travel back via Skardu and Gilgit to enjoy the most thrilling drive along the Indus River, or continue to Gunma if you have to.

The Deosai Plains is interlaced with streams, a large brown bear population, and multitude of golden marmots. Its remarkable biodiversity has recently earned it recognition as a national wilderness park. Its brief summer brings out intense July August mosquito swarms, which are relieved by strong daytime winds. Early September frosts restore peace to the plateau making trekking pleasurable.

A jeep track crosses the Deosai between Skardu and Astor Valley. From Skardu, the road heads south up the Sadpara valley, passing Sadpara Lake and a small sleepy village. It continues west across the Deosai plateau, crossing large clear streams via bridges. As it leaves Deosai, it skirts the northern shore of another charming lake, and then crosses the Pass (4266 meters) to upper Astor Valley.

A careful observation has shown that an amazing number of alpine plants are living under the extremely severe conditions of this area. This is a meeting place for three types of plants of Japanese and Chinese origin, Central Asian origin and Mediterranean origin. Variegated plant species also grow in harmony.

The area is surrounded by snowy mountains exceeding 5,000 meters in height and suspended glaciers. In June one can see full blooms of purple meadow cranesbill (geranium pratense), which cover all the slopes, mauve flowers of eritrichium sp: the densely tufted knotweed (bistorta affinis) in a sheet of dark red flowers, a line of yellow flowers of pedicularis and many more in thick clumps.

The rock anemone, paraquilegia microphylla, grows in rocky crevices skilfully utilizing exuded water and taking advantage of the protection from strong winds and cold. Its cup-shaped flowers of bluish white with yellow centre bloom all together. The neat and clean pure white saxifrage sibirica also blooms at this time of year, while the pretty white-fringed flowers of the alpine campion (silence moorcroftiana) bloom secretly in the shadow of rocks. Pseudosedium condensatum, a rare alpine planet, displays pink flowers like a royal crown in a shrub of ephedra. Large groups of pseudomertensis motikoides exhibit bright blue flowers, while other alpine flowers noted in the pasture at Dalsangpa include the large golden-yellow flowers of inula grandiflora, reminding some of sunflowers, the dark purple flowers of lindelofia stylosa, pretty yellow poppies, and the red flowers of the Himalayan stonecrop.

The most enchanting feature of the Deosai Plateau is its huge field of alpine flowers, the scale of which is largest in the Karakoram and the Western Himalayas. You can look out on an endless scene of alpine flowers as far as the eye can see - the gently rolling hills are carpeted in large part by the purple flowers of adenocaryum anchusoides, or the reddish-purple flowers of the long tube louse-word (pedicularis siphonantha). The mauve flowers of Aster carpet a wide area, and two kinds of primroses with pink and red blooms can be found growing in large clumps. Flannel mulmein (verbascum thapsus) and pedicularis bicornuta, both yellow in colour, stand tall on the plateau.

Natives will often present you with a goodwill bundle of Horros flowers, which produce so much aroma that will intoxicate anyone. It is an unforgettable experience to be in this colour bonanza in the full bloom. The peaceful atmosphere of the night, completely devoid of synthetic noise, being broken only by the sounds of rolling stones and falling ice.

For a layman alpine plants in Deosai are simply too numerous to mention. The colourful plateau is changed to a burning yellow carpet in autumn under a clear sky. There are many places suitable for summer camping: on the bed of edelweiss or at the riverside or lakeside. Chakor Pass (4,266 meters), located at the south end of the plateau, is the most impressive part of the Deosai trip. The deep blue Shaucer Lake, nestled in the pass, offers picture-book scenery. The view looking northward is of the endless series of peaks of the Karakorum Range.

For adventure-loving tourists, there are few paradises in the world that can compare to northern Pakistan for unspoiled natural beauty: a combination of soaring mountains, shimmering glaciers, crystal clear water streams and flower bedecked alpine pastures. In addition, the gentle, warm and hospitable character of the villagers makes your trip to this part of the world a fantastic and unforgettable memory of a lifetime.

And, did I have had the chance to see the fairies during my zigzagging in the area? Yes, I met fairy Jia Ku once in my dream that is. She said,

“Do not waste time running after fairies. Try finding what you want among humans. And that is what I think I am doing ever since.”


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