Military Wiki
Khalid Mahmud Arif
Native name خالد محمود عارف
Nickname Silencer
Born 1930 (age 91–92)
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Army
Years of service 1949–1987
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Service number PA–3107
Unit Army Armoured Corps
Commands held Chief of Army Staff
Army Chief of Staff (COS)
GOC 111th Army Brigade
X Corps
Awards [1]

General Khalid Mahmud Arif (Urdu language: خالد محمود عارف

born 1930; popularly known as General K.M. Arif), was a senior four-star ranking general officer who served as the vice chief of army staff of Pakistan Army under the scrutiny of President General Zia-ul-Haq. Working as the principle military adviser to Zia's military government in the capacity of Chief of Staff, Arif elevated to become Zia's closest collaborator and confident who worked closely in the matters of national security, overseeing and handling major civil-military issues directly involving the country's internal and foreign security.

Preceded by Lieutenant-General Syed Refaqat as chief of staff who stayed till General Zia-ul-Haq's death in the 1988 plane crash, Arif reached to a four-star rank and commanded the Pakistan Army's as its designated vice chief of army staff in place of General Sawar Khan who was due for retirement, in March 1984. He held on to this post for three years, after which he was himself replaced by General Mirza Aslam Beg in March 1987.

Early Life and education

Arif was born and hail from East Punjab and was a refugee from eastern Punjab who immigrated to West-Pakistan after independence in 1947.[2] After passing the CSS's inter-services exam, Arif was given commissioned in Army Armoured Corps in 1948, and was selected for further training in the United States the following year. In 1950, Arif attended and graduated from the United States Army Armor School, Fort Knox.[3] Throughout 1950s, Arif attended the joint service course at the Command and Staff College, and held the staff assignments in the Army.

Between wars: 1965 and 1971 war

Arif knew Zia-ul-Haq since his day as army Captain, and actively participated in the Arif 1965 September war, with Zia-ul-Haq.[4] After the 1965 war, Arif was stationed in East-Pakistan and appointed as martial law officer (MLO) at the Eastern High Command led under Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan. In 1967, Arif took extreme close initiatives with then-Major-General Yakob Khan formulating the an integrated battle plan for the province and dubbed "Operation X-Sunderbans-1".[4] X-Sunderbans-1 was a non-combat military exercise to conclude to formed the basis for the operational combat plan. In East-Pakistan, Arif remained an influential member of the Military government, responsible for deployment of junior units in the province as well as supervising the law and order situation in the province. Arif fought well in East Pakistan war and the 1971 Winter war leading him to earn a decoration in the former East-Pakistan.[4]

Staff Appointments

His efforts in Indo-Pakistani war of 1971 and accounts of bravery in East Pakistan, prompted Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to accept the recommendation to bestowed Arif with high awards, d the Nishan-i-Imtiaz (Military) and the Sitara-i-Basalat in 1974, after released by Indian Army as POW. In 1975, Arif was brought up as Colonel; followed by being promoted as Brigadier-General in 1977 and subsequently becoming the GOC of 111th Infantry Brigade of X Corps.[4]

Operation Fair Play

Arif's 111th Brigade was subsequently used by General Zia-ul-Haq to topple the government of Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[4] While the Military Police initiated a massive arrests of PPP activists and members, the X Corps and other military units consolidated the entire control of the country into the hands of General Zia-ul-Haq. According to Lieutenant General F.A. Chishti, the former Colonel Commandant of Ralwalpindi-based X Corps who helped General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq to overthrow the democratic government of Prime minister Zulfikar A. Bhutto in 1977 military coup; Lieutenant-General Chisti had said: "General Zia was lucky to have Major General Arif as his life long confidante. He had experience as a Martial Law Officer during General's Yahya's regime and handled matters efficiently."[5]

Chief of Army Staff

A quintessential staff officer he was, Arif had been a GOC of 111th Brigade for only eight month, and following General Zia's assuming the control of the country, his career sped up.[6] Despite of being commanding the large military formations, Arif was promoted rapidly, commanding the staff assignments rather than the field assignments.[6] In 1977, Arif was hastily made Lieutenant-General and shifted as Army Chief of Staff in 1977.[6] He replaced the aging generals in his staff, bringing the most qualified officers who previously worked with him.[6]

In 1984, Arif was finally appointed to four-star rank and appointed as Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan.[6] This promotion made General Arif a de facto Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army with entire commanding staff reporting to Arif.[6]

Soviet war in Afghanistan

In 1979, after attending the meeting, General Zia formed a meeting compromising the five civilian statesman and senior military officers, most notables were Foreign minister Agha Shahi, Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan Kazi Humayun, DG of ISI General Akhtar Abdur Rahman, Lieutenant-General Yakob Khan, and Chief of Army Staff General K.M. Arif, to prepare a draft with the consultation with strategists, intellectuals, practitioners, scholars and academics, and senior statesman, highlighting and recommending options for Pakistan.[7] Arif remained a vital figure in the Soviet war in Afghanistan, coordinating the international logistics against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and managing the international aid to Pakistan as well.[7]

Consolidation of atomic bomb project

In 1978, Zia had completely disbanded the civilian committee under dr. Mubashir Hassan, therefore, General Arif played a major role in formulating the nuclear policy and military control of atomic bomb project.[8] General Zia acknowledge the importance of success of this atomic bomb programme, therefore General Arif made frequent trips to the United States to hold talks on on-going atomic bomb project, and successfully convincing the United States for allowing the atomic bomb project,in context of Soviet war.[8] General Arif made it clear to the United States that "[Pakistan] won't compromise on its nuclear weapons programme, but won't conduct a test to harm to United States-Pakistan relations".[8] In 1983, the CIA placed a mole near the Kahuta but was thwarted by the ISI.[8] According to General Arif, the ISI took the mole to its secret museum to train its own spies in espionage operations.[8]

According to the dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, General Arif was an uptight and strict army officer who was directly and indirectly involved in the nuclear weapon development. General K.M. Arif was also responsible for the security of the Pakistan's scientists and the nuclear facilities. Arif oversaw the secret testing of nuclear weapons by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission led by its chairman Munir Ahmad Khan, throughout his career, and developed cordial relationships with both Munir Ahmad Khan and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. General Arif was one of the high-ranking officers who eye-witnessed the first cold test by PAEC of a nuclear device in Kirana Hills in 1983.

Post Retirement

General Arif retired from the Army and was Succeeded by General Mirza Aslam Beg as Chief of Army Staff. After his retirement, General Arif focused on poetry and authored a book "Khaki Shadows" in 2001, giving accounts of military history of Pakistan during the context of cold war.[9]

Currently, he is Chairman of the Pakistan Security and Development Association, a non-government and autonomous research body. He is also a prolific writer, contributing articles to national newspapers, and is well known for his first book "Working with Zia", published by Oxford University Press, and for his anthologies of Urdu poetry.


  1. USA, United States Army; United States Department of the Army (November 1, 1985). "Legion of Merit" (PDF). United States Department of the Army. Headquarter of the United States Department of the Army (The Pentagon), Washington D.C.. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  2. Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988 By Shahid Javed Burki Asian Survey, Vol. 28, No. 10 (Oct., 1988), pp. 1082-1100
  3. Mian, Dr. Zia (2009). South Asian cultures of the bomb: atomic publics and the state in India and Pakistan. Bloomington, Indiana, United States: Indiana University Press. pp. 27. ISBN 978-0-253-22032-5. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Haqqani, Hussain (2005). Pakistan: between mosque and military. Washington D.C. United States: Broocking Institute of Press. pp. 400. ISBN 978-0-87003-223-3. 
  5. Shahid Javed Burki. "Pakistan: Fifty Years of Nationhood (Westview Publishers, 1999)"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Abbas, Hassan (2005). Pakistan's drift to extremism: Allah, the army, and America's war on terror. New Heaven, United States: Yale University Press. pp. 270. ISBN 0-7656-1496-0. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Hilali, A.Z. (2005). U.S.-Pakistan relations: Russian war in Afghanistan. Burlington, United States: Ashgat Publishing Company. pp. 296. ISBN 0-7546-4220-8. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 History Commons. "Profile: Khalid Mahmud Arif". History Commons. Retrieved 29 December 2011. 
  9. Arif, PA, General Khalid Mahmud (2001). Khaki Shadows. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 452. ISBN 0-19-579396-X. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Sawar Khan
Vice Chief of Army Staff
1984 – 1987
Succeeded by
Mirza Aslam Beg

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