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Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan, HJ, HQA, SPk, (Punjabi, ; July 7, 1915 - March 28, 2002) was Pakistanmarker's Chief of Army Staff from 3 March, 1972 to 1 March, 1976.

Early Life and Education

Raja Tikka Khan was born in a Narma Rajput family in the village of Jochha Mamdot in Kahuta Tehsil near Rawalpindimarker, in 1915 (in what was then British India). He was a graduate of the Indian Military Academy at Dehradunmarker, 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 Lahoremarker, 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 Fortess Stadium was constructed under General Tikka Khan's tenure as corps commander.

Tikka Khan left for Dhakamarker 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.

1971 Crisis

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 88 seats out of 144 in West Pakistan. In the crisis that followed he was sent out by General Yahya Khan of Pakistan to put down unrest swelling in East Pakistan. Tikka took over Eastern Command (equivalent to a Corps) on 7 March, 1971 after the previous commander Lt Gen Sahabzada Yaqub Khan resigned. He fought the invading Indian Army and East Pakistani Mukti Bhanti movement.

While putting down the Bengali rebellion, he was responsible for the genocide of the estimated 300,000-3,000,000 Bengalis that followed. 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.

Tikka was later superseded by Lt Gen Gul Hassan Khan, when he was selected as the Commander-in-Chief 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 Bahawalpurmarker. Despite Tikka's political inclinations, many of Tikka's army proteges 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 Punjabmarker, 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.

Association with Chicken Tikka

Tikka Khan was named by his mother after being impressed by the famous Indian dish called Chicken Tikka. Tikka Khan resented this association all his life. The Pakistani community in London presented him with the offer of starting an Indian cuisine restaurant in London, cashing on his rather unusual name. However the British authorities did not allow a visa to former Pakistani army officer due to secuirty reasons. This was one deep regret and pain that Tikka Khan took to his grave as cooking was his first passion and he joined army only because his father forced him to.

Later life and death

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.


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