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General Rahimuddin Khan (Pashto, ; born 21 July, 1926), sometimes referred to as just Rahimuddin, is a retired Pakistan Army officer who was its fourth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee from 1984 till his retirement 1987. He was also the Martial Law Administrator and longest-serving Governor of Balochistanmarker, the largest province of Pakistanmarker, from 1978 to when he resigned in 1984. His retirement was interrupted by a brief reign as Governor of Sindh in 1988, from which he too resigned. Rahimuddin's governorships were easily the periods of greatest power for both offices; no previous officeholder had enjoyed such clear influence on all areas of provincial policy.

Born in Qaimganjmarker, British India, Rahimuddin opted for Pakistan following the Partition of India. Its Military Academy's first commissioned officer, he partook in the army's quelling of the Lahore agitations of 1953. As a brigadier during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, he presided over the military trial of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the verdict of which remains unclear.Promoted to Commander II Corps in 1976, Rahimuddin was charged with administering an insurgency-ridden Balochistan when martial law was imposed a year later. His premier achievement is held to be the province's unprecedented stabilization as well as development. His other enduring policies were the suppression of incoming Mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and the overseeing of the construction of nuclear test sites in the Chaghai regionmarker. He became Govenor of Sindh following the dismissal of civilian government in May 1988, abruptly resigning after President Ghulam Ishaq Khan attempted to limit his vast gubernatorial powers.

His administration has come to be both credited for his personal integrity as well as criticized for authoritarianism. He is the only man to have held all four posts of Corps Commander, Governor of Balochistan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, and Governor of Sindh.

Early military career

Rahimuddin Khan was born to a Pashtun Afridi family in Qaimganjmarker, United Provinces, Indiamarker. Rahimuddin shared close ties with his uncles, Dr Zakir Hussain (later the third President of India), and Zakir's brother Dr Mahmud Hussain. Rahimuddin was principally educated at Zakir's Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhimarker before enrolling in the Indian Military Academy. Via his relationship with Zakir and Mahmud Hussain, Rahimuddin saw several prominent figures of the Indian independence movement at close quarters, including Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Khwaja Nazimuddin. Upon the Partition of India in 1947, Rahimuddin opted for the new state of Pakistanmarker. He enrolled in the Pakistan Army as Cadet Number 1, the premier commissioned officer of the Pakistan Military Academy. He graduated as lieutenant on 20 October, 1950, and before becoming a major in 1957 was stationed at 1 Baluch Division from 1952 to 1954.

Selective martial law was declared over Lahoremarker in 1953, in response to civil unrest following anti-Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement agitations. Captain Rahimuddin was part of the military deployment heading the army takeover of Lahore, culminating in the arrest of Maulana Maududi. Among Pakistan's military representatives in CENTO, he attended Fort Leavenworth, Kansasmarker. He was hospitalized months before the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 with a broken ankle. After graduating from Command and Staff College, he was posted to School of Infantry Tactical from 1966 to 1968, becoming a Brigadier in 1970.

Judge of Mujibur Rahman's trial

Rahimuddin was appointed sub-martial law administrator to Hyderabadmarker following General Yahya Khan's assuming the presidency in 1969 and imposing martial law. In February 1971, Yahya appointed Brigadier Rahimuddin to be the judge of the special-court trial of Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to take place in Faisalabadmarker. Mujib, who would later become the founder of Bangladeshmarker, had been arrested by West Pakistan troops under Operation Searchlight for charges of sparking civil disorder in what was then East Pakistan, and was to be tried for sedition.

A career army officer, Rahimuddin was reportedly visibly uncomfortable conducting the court trial. In mid-proceedings, he left without verification to command his charge of Rawalpindi's III Brigade upon the outbreak of the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War. However, he was forcibly recalled by General Headquarters to award the trial verdict; Major General Iftikhar Janjua instead deployed the Brigade during the Battle of Chamb. The court proceedings were never made public, and sources vary as to the nature of the verdict Brigadier Rahimuddin sentenced Mujib to.

Following appeals from several officials in the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the Richard Nixon administration dissuaded Yahya from executing Rahimuddin's unconfirmed sentence. Yahya's successor as President, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in his efforts to recognize the new state of Bangladesh, decided to rescind the verdict. Mujib was freed from Pakistani imprisonment in February 1972.

Rahimuddin was meanwhile appointed by General Tikka Khan to the post of Chief Instructor at the Armed Forces War College at the then National Defence College, Rawalpindi, where he stayed from April 1972 to January 1975. Upon being promoted to Lieutenant General later in 1976, Rahimuddin was offered to spearhead the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission by the now-Prime Minister Bhutto, which he declined. He was instead made Corps Commander of the heavy armoured II Corps stationed in Multanmarker.

Term as martial law Governor of Balochistan

After widespread civil disorder, Chief of Army Staff General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq overthrew the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a bloodless coup on July 5, 1977 and imposed martial law. The Bhutto administration's military operation in Balochistan, initiated against anti-state insurgents in 1973, had claimed thousands of lives. Lieutenant-General Rahimuddin Khan was appointed Martial Law Administrator of Balochistan, which he accepted only on the condition that he be allowed to retain the command of II Corps. Following the end of Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry's tenure as President on September 16, 1978, the provincial governorship of the province was simultaneously vacated by Khuda Bakhsh Marri, which Rahimuddin too assumed. A provincial military administration was thus established for the first time in the region, and given broad powers under Rahimuddin.

Having inherited a Balochistan in the throes of civil war, Rahimuddin's immediate steps were to implement a general amnesty for belligerents willing to give up arms. He oversaw military withdrawal thereafter. Rahimuddin then pointedly isolated the more prominent feudal figures of Balochistan from interfering in provincial affairs. Defusing their influence, coupled with authoritarian government, made for the Baloch separatist movement grind to a virtual standstill. Prominent tribal sardars Ataullah Mengal and Khair Bakhsh Marri left the province for foreign countries, whereas Akbar Bugti aborted his separatist activities. No effective protests, civil disobedience or anti-government movements took place throughout Rahimuddin's rule.

Governor Rahimuddin's tenure also ushered in sustained development. Following the Soviet invasion of neighboring Afghanistanmarker in 1979, Rahimuddin utilized the resultant foreign attention on Balochistan by introducing an externally financed development programme for the area. 40 million dollars were committed to the programme by the end of 1987, by which time Rahimuddin had resigned. He expedited the regulation of Pakistan Petroleum Limited, the exploration company charged with the Sui gas field. He consolidated the then-contentious integration of Gwadarmarker into Balochistan, which had earlier been notified as a district in 1977. Addressing the province's literacy rate, the lowest in the country for both males and females, he administered the freeing up of resources towards education, created girls' incentive programs, and had several girls' schools built in the Dera Bugti Districtmarker. As part of his infrastructure schemes, he also forced his way in extending electricity to vast areas with subsoil water.

Containment of Soviet-Afghan War refugees

With the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Zia government began militarily and financially aiding the anti-communist Afghan mujahideen. Millions of Afghan refugees, believed to be the largest refugee population in the world, crossed over the porous border largely through to Balochistan and the North West Frontier Provincemarker. Whereas in NWFP under the pro-guerrilla governor General Fazle Haq, heroin freely entered in with the mujahideen, to pay for arms, as well as sophisticated weaponry itself, under General Rahimuddin tightly controlled barbed wire military camps were established to stagnate any movement of the refugees within Balochistan throughout the duration of the nine year war. In retrospect, this prevented drugs and weaponry from infiltrating the province, despite becoming widespread in the Frontier.

Mistaken identity in Al-Zulfikar hijack

In March 1981, the Al-Zulfikar terrorist organization hijacked a Pakistan International Airlines airplane from Karachimarker to Kabulmarker. Formed by Murtaza Bhutto, Al-Zulfikar, funded by the anti-Pakistan security agencies of Afghanistan, India, and the USSRmarker, aimed to overthrow the military dictatorship that had ousted Bhutto's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The hijackers threatened to murder a hostage a day if state authorities did not accept their demands, which most importantly consisted of the release of political prisoners. Upon the state's refusal, Al-Zulfikar shot dead passenger Captain Tariq Rahim, a man Murtaza Bhutto mistakenly believed to be the son of General Rahimuddin Khan. The decision to kill Rahim was taken after consultations between Murtaza and KHAD chief Mohammad Najibullah in view of this assumed relationship.Ironically, Tariq Rahim, who bore no relation to Rahimuddin, had been a former aide-de-camp to the executed elder Bhutto. Despite Rahimuddin's stand against any concessions, General Zia released the political prisoners and famously commented on the situation, "We have thrown out the bad eggs and saved innocent lives".

Exit to Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee

Rahimuddin abruptly resigned from the governorship amid differences with then-Finance Minister Ghulam Ishaq Khan over resource allocation for the province. He then refused to head the state's intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. Ultimately, he was promoted to the rank of full General in March 1984, before being appointed the fourth Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. He became the first alumnus of the Baloch Regiment to reach premier rank, later followed by current Chairman Tariq Majid in 2008. Following Pakistan's return to civilian government after the lifting of martial law in 1985, the newly-appointed Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo significantly reduced the powers of Governor, greatly reducing its status as an independent administrative body to an orthodox government post under the head of state. Rahimuddin completed his three year term in March 1987 and formally retired from the Pakistan Army and simultaneously the military government. He was succeeded as Chairman by General Akhtar Abdur Rahman.

Term as Governor of Sindh

After the Ojhri Camp disaster, General Zia dismissed the Junejo government by invoking the Constitution's Eighth Amendment. Rahimuddin was persuaded out of retirement to become Governor of Sindhmarker. However, he refused to head a caretaker government similar to the ones established in other provinces. The government accordingly took exception to Sindh, where it imposed governor's rule following a collapse of administration in the wake of increased ethnic violence. Rahimuddin was sworn in till 1990. In a controversial move, he summarily dismissed Z.A. Nizami from the post of Director-General of the powerful Karachi Development Authority, which he began regulating. He banned illegal housing development on public spaces, incidentally declining Bishop Anthony Theodore Lobo's request to convert an amenity plot into a school building extension. He also began pushing through legislature for administrative reform.


After a C-130 Hercules airplane carrying several senior-most generals, including Zia and Akhtar, Rahimuddin's successor as Chairman, fatally exploded in mid-air over Bahawalpurmarker on August 17, Chairman of the Senate Ghulam Ishaq Khan became acting President. One of Ishaq's first decisions as President was to move for the re-introduction of the post of Chief Minister of Sindh. This was to relegate the Governorship to largely ceremonial duties. Shortly after Chief Minister Akhtar Ali Ghulam Qazi was sworn in on August 31, Rahimuddin abruptly resigned as Governor. He thus retired from all government service, holding the Nishan-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-e-Basalat.

He now resides in Rawalpindimarker with his wife Saqiba, the niece of the late President Zakir Hussain. Former Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq is his son-in-law.


Despite his involvement in several episodes of Pakistan's history, Rahimuddin is most associated with his long reign as Balochistan's military governor. At the time of his appointment, public opinion, effected by the secession of Bangladesh, held that provincial civil disobedience could not be subdued through military rule. Accordingly, Balochistan's separatist insurgency had gained further momentum as a reactionary force to Bhutto's military operation in the region.Considered an honest non-Punjabi military intellectual, Rahimuddin's appointment was initially considered to assuage Baloch resentment towards the traditionally Punjabi-dominated central government. Instead he began wielding enormous powers independently of the central authorities, citing martial law. His government was brashly autocratic, the sole provincial administration to not establish a cabinet managing its affairs. Even within the military hierarchy Rahimuddin seldom compromised; when General Sawar Khan was given precedence at a Staff College Quetta function, Rahimuddin skipped the event. After Zia-ul-Haq's family married into Rahimuddin's, many saw it as a move by Zia to further consolidate his hold over the army's seniority, although the families of other senior generals Akhtar Abdur Rahman and Zahid Ali Akbar Khan too married into Rahimuddin's family.

A pointed voice in the Zia-ul-Haq and Ghulam Ishaq Khan presidencies, Rahimuddin maintained a unique reputation for integrity in administrations tainted with allegations of corruption. He reluctantly assumed Balochistan's martial law duties on the condition that he still be allowed to continue commanding his Corps. Similarly, he was a gentleman officer who had been at odds with presiding over Mujibur Rehman's trial. With his government, the province's tribal sardars were taken out of the pale of politics for the first time. Subsequent political publications have often registered confusion at the sardars' complete lack of opposition to Rahimuddin's heavy-handed rule, the time which nationalist Khair Bakhsh Marri since admitted "was the low ebb of our freedom movement". Rahimuddin instead lent a semblance of support to conservative politicians such as Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who resultantly rose to national prominence.

Having politically stabilized the province, Rahimuddin Khan's tenure saw development unsurpassed by subsequent provincial governments, focusing on infrastructure and education. His electricity expansion turned converted vast areas with sub-soil water into green orchards that can be seen today to stretch from Quetta to Loralaimarker. However, while he greatly regulated Pakistan Petroleum Limited in its commercial exploitation of the Sui gas field in 1982, his maneuvers for an increased share in gas revenue for Balochistan were overturned by the central government in 1985, after he had left office. After Rahimuddin's retirement however, civil disobedience movements would once again mushroom throughout the 1990s. Attempted uprisings have taken place as recently as 2006, which culminated in the killing of the anti-government tribal leader Akbar Bugti in an army operation ordered by General Pervez Musharraf.

Rahimuddin often broke with government policy, most notably by suppressing the Mujahideen's movement into Balochistan from Afghanistan during the latter's Soviet occupation. Contrastingly supported by the government in the North-West region, the Mujahideen brought with them hard narcotics and advanced weaponry, a major source of the rampant expansion of the arms and drugs trade during that time. The Mujahideen also became the forerunners of the Taliban movement against which the Pakistan Army would launch a full-scale war in October 2009. As a result of Rahimuddin's containment, Balochistan remained relatively free of Taliban presence until recently when the US war in Afghanistan triggered a fresh influx of refugees from 2001 onwards. While he disagreed with the handling of the refugee problem, Rahimuddin was part of the Zia regime's acceleration of the nuclear programme, overseeing the construction of nuclear test sites in Chaghai. A few weeks after India would conduct its second nuclear test (Operation Shaktimarker) on 28 May, 1998, Pakistan under Nawaz Sharif would detonate five nuclear devices in the Chagai Hills. This operation would be named Chagai-I by Pakistan, the base having been long-constructed by Rahimuddin.

Despite deepening animosity against the Armed Forces, there is a general consensus in Balochistan that much of all development seen today was undertaken during Rahimuddin's regime. Even in retirement, Rahimuddin played a role in the country's military history, recommending first Asif Nawaz and then Abdul Waheed Kakar, both of whom had served under him, for the post of Army Chief to President Ghulam Ishaq. Both men would attain the post. As Cadet Number 1 of the Pakistan Military Academy who would later become Chairman Joint Chiefs, Rahimuddin's military uniform is displayed at the Academy's museum in Kakulmarker for its historical significance.


  1. Pakistan Day Commemmoration: Balochistan
  2. "Tribal Politics in Balochistan 1947-1990" Conclusion (1990) p.6
  3. Balochistan's history- Baloch Unity Organization
  4. Balochistan- cruches of history
  5. Shuja Nawaz (2007) "Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army and the Wars Within"
  6. Matinuddin, Kamal Matinuddin (1994) "Tragedy of Errors: East Pakistan Crisis 1968-1971"
  7. Arif, Working with Zia, (1995), p.311
  8. Arif, Khaki Shadows, (2002), p.211
  9. Foreign Policy Centre, "On the Margins of History", (2008), p.35
  10. Foreign Policy Centre, "On the Margins of History", (2008), p.36
  11. Newsline: A History of the Baloch Separatist Movement
  12. Scribd: Obituary of Akbar Bugti
  13. Newsline: A History of the Baloch Separatist Movement
  14. Emma Duncan, Breaking the Curfew, (1989), p.155
  15. Emma Duncan, Breaking the Curfew, (1989), p.156
  16. "Tribal Politics in Balochistan 1947-1990" Conclusion (1990) p.7
  17. Eduardo Real: "Zbigniew Brzezinski, Defeated by his Success"
  18. Amnesty International file on Afghanistan URL Accessed March 22, 2006
  19. The Afghan War Settlement
  20. 1982-1989: Fazle Haq Profile
  21. Kepel, Jihad, (2002), p.143-4
  22. Bo Shan: "Human-proof fencing"
  23. 9/11 Truths: Clarification from Scott regarding Fazle Haq
  24. 9/11 START| Terrorist Organization Profile: Al-Zulfikar
  25. Anwar, The Terrorist Prince, (1997), p.98
  26. Prophet of Doom: Islamic Terrorism Timeline
  27. History of PIA: Hijackings
  28. Anwar, The Terrorist Prince, (1997), p.121
  29. Anwar, The Terrorist Prince, (1997), p.106
  30. Anwar, The Terrorist Prince, (1997), p.204
  31. Anwar, The Terrorist Prince, (1997), p.123
  32. "The Far East and Central Asia" (2003) Regional Surveys of the World p. 1166
  33. Country Data: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and a New Constitutional System
  34. Rajshree Jetly "Baluch Ethnicity and Nationalism (1971–81): An Assessment" (National University of Singapore p.13)
  35. Harrison "In Afghanistan’s Shadow" p. 153
  36. [1] What Constitutes Autocracy?
  37. Nawaz, Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within (2008) p. 277
  38. Arif, Working with Zia (1995) p. 180
  39. Arif, Working with Zia, (1995), p.317
  40. Abbas, Pakistan's drift into extremism: Allah, the army, and America's war on terror, (2007)
  41. Nawaz, Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within (2008) p. 211
  42. Foreign Policy Centre "On the Margins of History" p. 30
  43. Foreign Policy Centre "On the Margins of History" p. 31
  44. Newsline: Interview with Khair Bakhsh Marri- September 20, 2009
  45. Pakistan Herald:Profile of Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan
  46. "Tribal Politics in Balochistan 1947-1990" Conclusion (1990) p.7
  47. Newsline: Separate Ways
  48. "Tribal Politics in Balochistan 1947-1990" Conclusion (1990) p.8
  49. DAWN: Balochistan for increased share in gas revenue
  50. The Russian War in Afghanistan J.D. Adamak, Paltalk News Network
  51. A.Z. Hilali, "US-Pakistan relationship: Soviet invasion of Afghanistan", (2007)
  52. Pakistan launches full-scale war against the Taliban
  53. DAWN: No Taliban chiefs in Balochistan
  54. Baluchistan feeds Taliban's growing power San Francisco Chronicle
  55. "Tribal Politics in Balochistan 1947-1990" Conclusion (1990) p.8
  56. Nawaz, Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within (2008) p. 334

Further reading

  • Endgame: East Pakistan; An Onlooker's Journal by Brigadier A.R. Siddiqui
  • Breaking the Curfew by Emma Duncan
  • Khaki Shadows by Khalid Mahmud Arif
  • The Terrorist Prince by Raja Anwar

See also

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