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Tikka Khan
General Tikka Khan in his mess dress, PA
Birth name Mohammad Tikka Khan
Nickname Butcher of Balochistan
Butcher of Bengal
Born (1915-07-07)July 7, 1915
Died March 28, 2002(2002-03-28) (aged 86)
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Army
Years of service 1940-1976
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Service number (PA – 124)
Unit 12th Medium Regiment, Corps of Artillery
Commands held 8th Infantry Division, Rann of Kutch
15th Infantry Division, Sialkot
IV Corps
Eastern Military High Command
II Strike Corps
Chief of Army Staff
Battles/wars Battle of Rann of Kutch
Battle of Chawinda
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Bangladesh Liberation War
Operation Searchlight
Awards Hilal-i-Jurat (HJ)
Hilal-i-Quaid-i-Azam (HQA)
Sitara-e-Pakistan (SPk)
Other work Politician

General Tikka Khan, HJ, HQA, SPk, (Punjabi, Urdu language: ٹِکّا خان

July 7, 1915 – March 28, 2002) was a senior four-star general in the Pakistan Army who served as the first Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army from 3 March 1972 to 1 March 1976. Before his four-star assignment, Khan was a Martial Law Administrator of erstwhile East-Pakistan (later, Bangladesh). He succeeded Brigadier-General Mitty Masud, and assumed the command of Eastern Military High Command on March 26, 1971. As a Commander of Eastern Command, (then) Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan was the architect and top planner of Operation Searchlight.[1] He is still remembered as the "Butcher of Bengal"[2][3][4] for his ruthlessness against separatists and brutality inflicted in the erstwile East Pakistan,[5] in the remaining Pakistan.[6] He got his first Butcher title "Butcher of Balochistan" because of his infamous atrocities in Balochistan in 1970.[7][8][9]

Early life and education

General Tikka Khan was born in a Narma Rajput family in the village of Jochha Mamdot in Kahuta Tehsil near Rawalpindi, in 1915 (in what was then British India). He was a graduate of the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun, and was commissioned on 22 December 1940.

World War II and British Army Career

He fought in World War II as part of the Indian Army. After his return from World War II, Khan was an instructor at the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun for some time. During the independence, Major Tikka Khan remained in what is now Pakistan, and became an officer in the Pakistan Army.

Career with Pakistan Army

After Independence, he served in only one Artillery Regiment of Royal Pakistan Artillery, where he raised and commanded the first post partition Medium Regiment of Royal Pakistan Artillery, i.e., 12 Medium Regiment Artillery.

He was promoted to the rank of Major General in 1962.

Between the wars

Tikka Khan was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General in August 1969. He was then posted as commander IV Corps at Lahore, where he stayed till March 1971. By virtue of Yahya Khan's martial law, Tikka Khan was also the Martial Law Administrator, Zone A (West Pakistan). He had replaced Lt Gen Attiqur Rahman as the MLA and left the post to Lt Gen Bahadur Sher in March 1971. Lahore's Fortress Stadium was constructed under General Tikka Khan's tenure as corps commander.

Tikka Khan left for Dhaka in March 1971, where he was to take charge as the commander of the Eastern Command, Martial Law Administrator, Zone B (East Pakistan), and Governor of East Pakistan.

Tikka Khan was a Major-General at the time of 1965 Pak-India war and was posted at Sialkot.

1971 Crisis and Bangladesh War

The 1970 elections in East Pakistan and West Pakistan resulted in a situation where Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Awami League won 167 of the 169 seats in East Pakistan, whereas Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won 81 seats out of 138 in West Pakistan. Although, as the leader of the majority party, Mujib was supposed to be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan, Bhutto was not ready to accept and refused to sit in the National Assembly as opposition party. General Yahya Khan, President of Pakistan, influenced by Bhutto to keep the Bengalis from rising to power, postponed the National Assembly session. Mujib, in a public rally in Dhaka on March 7, called upon the Bengalis to launch movement against the Pakistan regime. In this circumstance, Tikka was sent out to put down the unrest swelling in East Pakistan. Tikka took over Eastern Command (equivalent to a reinforced Corps) on 7 March 1971 after the previous commander Lt Gen Sahabzada Yaqub Khan resigned. Tikka directed the brutal military crackdown (officially known as Operation Searchlight) on 25 March with the help of Major General Rao Farman Ali and other Army generals that stunned the Bengalis with gross violence, atrocities and massive human rights abuse.[1]

He was the leading commander of the II Corps responsible for the defence on the Western front of the War in 1971. After a brief stay in East Pakistan, he was then posted as the first commander II Corps at Multan and commanded through the actual Indo-Pakistan conflict in December 1971.

Post retirement

Tikka Khan’s tenure ended in March 1976, and he was later appointed Defence Minister by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's July 1977 coup led to the arrest of both Bhutto and General Tikka Khan. Bhutto was executed in 1979, after which General Tikka Khan emerged as one of the leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), becoming its Secretary General, during a time when many party stalwarts abandoned it.

General Tikka was imprisoned numerous times for his political activities during the late 1970s and 1980s, until Zia-ul-Haq died in August 1988 in an airplane explosion over Bahawalpur. Despite Tikka's political inclinations, many of Tikka's army protégés such as Sawar Khan, Iqbal Khan and Rahimuddin Khan were promoted to Full General and remained on deferential terms with him. General Tikka Khan was appointed the Governor of Pakistan’s largest province, the Punjab, in December 1988. His tenure as the Governor was cut short by the dismissal of the Benazir Bhutto government in August 1990, after which he retired from active politics.

Later life and death

Tikka Khan's grave at Army graveyard, Rawalpindi

General Tikka Khan died on March 28, 2002 after several years of illness. He received a state burial with full military honors and his funeral was attended by thousands of people, including the entire top brass of the Pakistan Army. In a message to the General's son, Col. Khalid M. Khan, Benazir Bhutto, who had spent many years campaigning with the General, remembered him as a person who, "rose to the highest offices of this country due to his hard work and respect for the rule of law."

See also


Further reading

Zaheer, Hasan: The separation of East Pakistan : The rise and realization of Bengali Muslim nationalism, Oxford University Press, 1994.

Sisson, Richard & Rose, Leo: War and secession : Pakistan, India, and the creation of Bangladesh, University of California Press (Berkeley), 1990.

Matinuddin, General Kamal: Tragedy of Errors : East Pakistan Crisis, 1968-1971, Wajidalis, Lahore, Pakistan, 1994.

Salik, Siddiq: Witness to surrender, Oxford University Press, Karachi, Pakistan, 1977.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Attiqur Rahman
Martial Law Administrator of Zone A, (West Pakistan)
Succeeded by
Bahadur Sher
Governor of West Pakistan
Succeeded by
Nur Khan
Preceded by
Sahabzada Yaqub Khan
Martial Law Administrator of Zone B, (East Pakistan)
Succeeded by
Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi
Governor of East Pakistan
Succeeded by
Abdul Motaleb Malik
Preceded by
Makhdoom Sajjad Hussain Qureshi
Governor of Punjab
Succeeded by
Mian Muhammad Azhar
Military offices
Preceded by
Air Cdre. Mitty Masud
Unified Commander of Eastern Military High Command
26 March 1971 – 31 August 1971
Succeeded by
RAdm Mohammad Shariff
Preceded by
LGen Gul Hassan Khan
as Army Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army
Chief of Army Staff
Succeeded by
Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq

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