Asghar Khan was a Pakistani Politician, aviation historian and peace activist. His father, Brigadier Thakur Rahmatullah Khan, was a senior officer and colonel-commandant of the posted Brigade combat team of the British Army headquartered in Kashmir. Most of Asghar Khan's family members which had left Tirah Valley Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to settle in Kashmir again migrated at the time of partition to Abbottabad including his parents. He and all his brothers, except one, then joined the armed forces of Pakistan.
EducationAfter World War II, the British government called Asghar Khan to United Kingdom where he joined the RAF Staff College at Bracknell, where he completed a staff course. Later, Asghar Khan joined the Joint Service Defence College where he gained BSc in military ethics after submitting his thesis on actions involving the Joint Services. He conducted his post-graduate research and studies from Imperial Defence College where Asghar Khan was awarded MSc in Military administration by the college faculty.
Initial CareerUpon his return after completing his educatoon, Asghar Khan was most-senior officer in the Indian Air Force, although his career with Indian Air Force is not completely known, but it is well understood that Asghar Khan commanded the No. 9 Squadron of the Indian Air Force, in 1945. Asghar Khan was also the first Indian Air Force officer to fly a jet fighter aircraft—a Gloster Meteor— whilst doing a fighter leader's course in UK in 1946. On 7 June 1947, Asghar Khan joined the sub-committee led by RAF Air Vice Marshal Allan Perry-Keene to distribute the defence assets of undivided India between the proposed State of Pakistan. After the partition of India on 14 August 1947, Asghar Khan moved to newly established country Pakistan and, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan promoted Asghar Khan to the rank of Wing-Commander and appointed him the first commandant of the Pakistan Air Force Academy at Risalpur. He was among the most senior officers of the Pakistan Air Force so in 1949, Asghar Khan became the first Officer commanding of the No. 1 Stryker Group based in Peshawar Air Force Base. In 1948, Asghar Khan greeted founder of Pakistan and Governor-General Muhammad Ali Jinnah when Jinnah visited the Pakistan Air Force Academy.
As an Assistant Chief of Air StaffIn 1950, Asghar Khan assumed the directorship of the Directorate-General of the Air Operations (DGAO). In 1955, Asghar Khan was appointed as the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff in the Air Headquarters, directing the air administration and personnel department at the Air Headquarters. As Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, Asghar Khan established the major units and infrastructure including the Fighter Leaders School (now Combat Commander's School), the Air Staff College and the College of Aeronautical Engineering at the Pakistan Air Force Academy. As assistant chief of the air staff, Asghar Khan also instituted the Inspectorate directorate for the air force and initiated the tradition of regular air staff presentations. Two of his brothers, Squadran Leader Khalid Khan and Pilot Officer Asif Khan were killed during service with the Pakistan Air Force.
Meeting with Mohammad Ali Jinnah
Political CareerHe turned his attention towards politics. He is among those individuals whose political voyage is replete with difficulties and hardships. However, in politics he is considered as a man of principles showing no compromise or any deal in his long political career. M. Asghar Khan formed his own political party, the Tehrik-i-lstaqlal, in 1972. He was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan in the General Elections held in 1977. Most of the time he remained in opposition camp, opposing military regimes of General Ayub Khan and General Yahya Khan. He also participated in the movement of Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) as a leader of his political party Tahreek-e-Isaqlal and strongly condemned what he called as “the fascist regime” of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Asghar Khan was the main political figure of MRD (Movement for Restoration of Democracy) that started in 1981 against General Zia regime. In 1988 he also took active part in Pakistan Awami Ittehad and later Pakistan Democratic Alliance in 1990. He stepped down as President of Tehrik-i-Istaqlal in December 1995.
Merge His Party with PTIIn 1970 Khan founded the Tehreek-e-Istiqlal, but the party could not dent the vote bank of other major parties of the time, such as the Pakistan Peoples Party. He conceded his defeat but again contested in 1990 parliamentary elections from Lahore, Asghar Khan once again faced defeat. Briefly retiring from active politics in the late 1990s his party faced another one of its many splits. Since 1990, Asghar Khan has not held a significant position in politics. Later, Khan merged his party with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). On October 19, 2012, the apex court issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against former army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Lt Gen Durrani in a case filed 16 years ago by Asghar Khan.
Case of Mohammad AsgharAsghar Khan is also known for his case against alleged funding to the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA) against Benazi Bhutto in 1990 elections. He had filed the case in 1996 seeking an investigation into the role of two senior military officers – the then-army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg and ISI chief Lt Gen Asad Durrani – regarding the alleged funding of millions of rupees. The election was won by the alliance, comprising Pakistan Muslim League, National Peoples Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and others, and Nawaz Sharif had been elected as the prime minister.
Books of Mohammad Asghar Khan
- My Political Struggle
- We've Learnt Nothing From History
- Cihre nahin, Nizam ko Badlo
- First Round: Indo-Pak War, 1965
- Generals in Politics: Pakistan, 1958 - 82
- Generals in Politics: Pakistan, 1958 - 82
- The First Round, Indo Pakistan War 1965
- Tarikh Se Kuch Nahi Seekha
DeathFormer Pakistan Air Force chief Air Marshal (retd) Mohammad Asghar Khan, 96, died on 5 January 2018 after a long illness. The funeral prayers of the former air chief, who also holds the title of becoming the first Muslim commander in chief of the PAF, were offered at Islamabad airbase after Friday prayers. He will be laid to rest in his ancestral village of Nawa Shehar, Abbottabad on Saturday. Born on January 17, 1921, Asghar Khan was commissioned in the Indian Army initially and later he was drafted into Indian Air Force in 1940.
AwardsHe renounced the awards of Hilal-i-Pakistan and Hilal-i-Quaid-i-Azam in January 1969 as a mark of protest against the government’s policy of suppression.
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