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Pak Gen Ayub Khan was Hazara by birth, Punjabi by nature, say Indian army veterans

Former Pakistan president Gen Ayub Khan sprang  to life in the very first session on 'Indo-Pak War 1965' as Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal painted a vivid picture of a Hazara.

punjab Updated: Dec 12, 2017 10:17 IST
Manraj Grewal Sharma
Manraj Grewal Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Gen Ayub Khan,Ayub Khan,Punjabi
(From right) Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Air Marshal Bharat Kumar (retd), Lt Gen NS Brar (retd) and Brig Sukhjit Singh (retd), during the session on the war of 1965 at the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh. (Anil Dayal/HT)

A student of Khalsa High School, he could read and write Punjabi very well. He had great reverence for the mool mantra, a seminal Sikh hymn describing God, and had it framed in the lobby of his official residence when he became the chief of the Pakistan army.

Former Pakistan president Gen Ayub Khan sprang to life in the very first session on 'Indo-Pak War 1965' as Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal painted a vivid picture of a Hazara, who rose to become the first martial ruler of Pakistan.

Ayub, recounted Badal, was a Hazara from Haripur district named after legendary General Hari Singh Nalwa. Studying at a school in Rihana village, Ayub, a naughty brat, often got a hiding from the strict headmaster, Jodh Singh.

"One day, he ran away from school. He was wandering in the streets of the village when he met this elder Sikh, who asked him why he wasn't in the school. He said, “Master bahut marda hai (The master beats too much)." The Sikh taught him the mool mantra, saying it would ensure he never got a beating again. Badal claims Khan continued to do this all his life.

The 6'4" tall would-be chief of the Pakistani army, who trained at the Sandhurst academy, also almost got court-martialed when he was suspended for ‘visible cowardice’ during the Burma campaign while commanding 1 Assam.

“He was a very strong friend and an equally strong enemy," said Brig Sukhjit Singh (retd), recounting how the late-riser, who was often disturbed by the aazaan,once took his AK 47 and blasted the loudspeakers of a mosque.

Badal said Ayub's son, Aurangzeb Gul, an alumnus of Doon School, had a soft spot for Indians and enjoyed visiting the Indian embassy to meet the high commissioner. Once the ISI agents hauled him out of his car when he was coming out of the embassy, and asked him "Kya karne gaye the?"

The redoubtable Gul quipped, "Pakistan ko bechne gaya tha. Hindu ne kharida nahin, daam bahut kam de raha tha."

In 1965, when the US envoy told Ayub that Indians had him by the throat, he famously shot back, "Any hand on Pakistani throat will be cut off.

" And then he gave his famous speech in Urdu that galvanised his soldiers. Badal said even today, the Noorjehan song "Ae puttar hathan de na vikde" has tears rolling down the eyes of Pakistanis.

First Published: Dec 10, 2017 12:31 IST