Iskander Mirza
Overview
 
Major-General Sahibzada Sayyid
Sayyid
Sayyid is an honorific title, it denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali, sons of the prophet's daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.Daughters of sayyids are given the titles Sayyida,...

 Iskander Ali Mirza
, CIE
Order of the Indian Empire
The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire is an order of chivalry founded by Queen Victoria in 1878. The Order includes members of three classes:#Knight Grand Commander #Knight Commander #Companion...

, OBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

: اسکندر مرزا) (December 14, 1898 – November 12, 1969) was the fourth and last Governor-General
Governor-General of Pakistan
The Governor-General of Pakistan was the representative in Pakistan of the Crown from the country's independence in 1947. When Pakistan was proclaimed a republic in 1956 the connection with the British monarchy ended, and the office of Governor-General was abolished.-History:Pakistan gained...

 of the Dominion of Pakistan
Dominion of Pakistan
The Dominion of Pakistan was an independent federal Commonwealth realm in South Asia that was established in 1947 on the partition of British India into two sovereign dominions . The Dominion of Pakistan, which included modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, was intended to be a homeland for the...

 (6 October 1955 to 23 March 1956), and the first President
President of Pakistan
The President of Pakistan is the head of state, as well as figurehead, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Recently passed an XVIII Amendment , Pakistan has a parliamentary democratic system of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a...

 of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 (23 March 1956 to 27 October 1958).
Iskander Ali Mirza was born at Murshidabad
Murshidabad
Murshidabad is a city in Murshidabad district of West Bengal state in India. The city of Murshidabad is located on the southern bank of the Bhagirathi, a distributary of the Ganges River. It was the capital of undivided Bengal during the Mughal rule. Nawabs of Bengal used to rule Bengal from this...

, Bengal
Bengal Presidency
The Bengal Presidency originally comprising east and west Bengal, was a colonial region of the British Empire in South-Asia and beyond it. It comprised areas which are now within Bangladesh, and the present day Indian States of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Orissa and Tripura.Penang and...

, on 14 December 1898, the eldest son of Sahibzada Sayyid Muhammad Fateh Ali Mirza (1874–1949) and his first wife, Dishad Begum (1879–1924).
Encyclopedia
Major-General Sahibzada Sayyid
Sayyid
Sayyid is an honorific title, it denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali, sons of the prophet's daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.Daughters of sayyids are given the titles Sayyida,...

 Iskander Ali Mirza
, CIE
Order of the Indian Empire
The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire is an order of chivalry founded by Queen Victoria in 1878. The Order includes members of three classes:#Knight Grand Commander #Knight Commander #Companion...

, OBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

: اسکندر مرزا) (December 14, 1898 – November 12, 1969) was the fourth and last Governor-General
Governor-General of Pakistan
The Governor-General of Pakistan was the representative in Pakistan of the Crown from the country's independence in 1947. When Pakistan was proclaimed a republic in 1956 the connection with the British monarchy ended, and the office of Governor-General was abolished.-History:Pakistan gained...

 of the Dominion of Pakistan
Dominion of Pakistan
The Dominion of Pakistan was an independent federal Commonwealth realm in South Asia that was established in 1947 on the partition of British India into two sovereign dominions . The Dominion of Pakistan, which included modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, was intended to be a homeland for the...

 (6 October 1955 to 23 March 1956), and the first President
President of Pakistan
The President of Pakistan is the head of state, as well as figurehead, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Recently passed an XVIII Amendment , Pakistan has a parliamentary democratic system of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a...

 of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 (23 March 1956 to 27 October 1958).

Early life

Iskander Ali Mirza was born at Murshidabad
Murshidabad
Murshidabad is a city in Murshidabad district of West Bengal state in India. The city of Murshidabad is located on the southern bank of the Bhagirathi, a distributary of the Ganges River. It was the capital of undivided Bengal during the Mughal rule. Nawabs of Bengal used to rule Bengal from this...

, Bengal
Bengal Presidency
The Bengal Presidency originally comprising east and west Bengal, was a colonial region of the British Empire in South-Asia and beyond it. It comprised areas which are now within Bangladesh, and the present day Indian States of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Orissa and Tripura.Penang and...

, on 14 December 1898, the eldest son of Sahibzada Sayyid Muhammad Fateh Ali Mirza (1874–1949) and his first wife, Dishad Begum (1879–1924). Muhammad Fateh Ali Mirza was a duke of the ruling house of Murshidabad
Murshidabad
Murshidabad is a city in Murshidabad district of West Bengal state in India. The city of Murshidabad is located on the southern bank of the Bhagirathi, a distributary of the Ganges River. It was the capital of undivided Bengal during the Mughal rule. Nawabs of Bengal used to rule Bengal from this...

 and son of Nawab Mansur Ali Khan, the first Nawab of Bengal
Nawab of Bengal
The Nawabs of Bengal were the hereditary nazims or subadars of the subah of Bengal during the Mughal rule and the de-facto rulers of the province.-History:...

. Mirza was a descendant of Gaddar-e-Abrar Mir Jafar
Mir Jafar
-Notes:# "Riyazu-s-salatin", Ghulam Husain Salim - a reference to the appointment of Mohanlal can be found # "Seir Muaqherin", Ghulam Husain Tabatabai - a reference to the conspiracy can be found...

. He was a Shi'a Muslim, as his emblem displayed the sign of the Zulfiqar
Zulfiqar
Zulfiqar "bifurcated" is the sword of the Islamic leader Ali. In Arabic the name is commonly transliterated as Dhu al-Fiqar, Thulfeqar, Dhulfiqar, Zoulfikar etc. The name Zulfiqar means which divides exactly in two parts....

, the sword of Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 (son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad ). He grew up in Bombay. After completing his early education at Elphinstone College
Elphinstone College
Elphinstone College is an institution of higher education affiliated to the University of Mumbai. Established in 1856, it is one of the oldest colleges of the University of Mumbai. It was exalted as a prestigious seat of learning during the British Raj and is generally observed for its vibrant alumni...

, of the then-University of Bombay
University of Mumbai
The University of Mumbai , is a state university located in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. It was known as the University of Bombay until 1996 when the city of Bombay was renamed as Mumbai. The affiliated colleges of the university are spread throughout the city of Mumbai and four coastal districts in...

, he was educated at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst , commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is a British Army officer initial training centre located in Sandhurst, Berkshire, England...

, becoming the first graduate from the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 at the academy, and was commissioned into the British Indian Army
British Indian Army
The British Indian Army, officially simply the Indian Army, was the principal army of the British Raj in India before the partition of India in 1947...

 in 1920.

He was attached to the 2nd Battalion, Cameronians 16 July 1920, and served in the Khodad Khel Operations 1921 and at Waziristan
Waziristan
Waziristan is a mountainous region near the Northwest of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11,585 km² . The area is entirely populated by ethnic Pashtuns . The language spoken in the valley is Pashto/Pakhto...

 1924. He was transferred to the 17th Poona Horse (Queen Victoria's Own) later that year, and joined the Indian Political Service
Indian Political Service
The Indian Political Service was a department of the Indian Civil Service during the British Raj.The political officers assigned to the service - many of whom were British Army and British Indian Army officers on secondment - were responsible for the civil administration of frontier districts, and...

 in 1926. He was Assistant Commissioner at Abbottabad 1926-1928, Bannu 1928-1930, Nowshera 1930-1933, and Tank 1933, a Deputy Commissioner at Hazara 1933-1936 & at Mardan 1936-1938. He was a Political Agent Khyber 1938-1940, Deputy Commissioner Peshawar & Political Agent to the Mohmands 1940, Political Agent Orissa States 1945-1946, Joint Defence Secretary India 1946-1947 and Defence Secretary. Mirza only served in the army for six years, after which he was the first Indian to be accepted in the elite Indian Political Service
Indian Political Service
The Indian Political Service was a department of the Indian Civil Service during the British Raj.The political officers assigned to the service - many of whom were British Army and British Indian Army officers on secondment - were responsible for the civil administration of frontier districts, and...

, eventually becoming a joint secretary in the Ministry of Defence of British India. In this position, he was responsible for dividing the British Indian Army into the future armies of Pakistan and India.

Defence Secretary and Governor-General

Upon the formation of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Mirza—at the time, the highest-ranking Muslim civil servant in the nation—was made the Defence Secretary
Defence Secretary of Pakistan
Defence Secretary of Pakistan is the highest bureaucratic position within the Ministry of Defence of Pakistan. Following is the list of the defence secretaries to date....

 of the new nation. In 1954, he was made governor of East Pakistan
East Pakistan
East Pakistan was a provincial state of Pakistan established in 14 August 1947. The provincial state existed until its declaration of independence on 26 March 1971 as the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan recognized the new nation on 16 December 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengal...

 to bring order to the politically distressed region. This position was followed by his being appointed Minister of Interior and Frontier Regions in Muhammad Ali Bogra
Muhammad Ali Bogra
Nawabzada Mohammed Ali Bogra was a Pakistani statesman of Bengali origin, who served as the third Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1953 until 1955.-Early life:...

's cabinet. In 1955, he became acting Governor-General, before becoming the last Governor-General of Pakistan.

Mirza was also a great advocate of the One Unit
One Unit
One-Unit was the title of a scheme launched by the federal government of Pakistan to merge the four provinces of West Pakistan into one homogenous unit, as a counterbalance against the numerical domination of the ethnic Bengalis of East Pakistan...

 scheme, and believed in the separation of state and religion. When Mirza succeeded the ailing Malik Ghulam Muhammad as Governor-General, he was married to his second wife, Nahid Mirza, an Iranian lady who had previously been the wife of the Military Attaché of Iran in Pakistan.

President of Pakistan

In 1956, Pakistan established its first constitution, and the position of Governor-General was replaced by that of President
President of Pakistan
The President of Pakistan is the head of state, as well as figurehead, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Recently passed an XVIII Amendment , Pakistan has a parliamentary democratic system of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a...

. The two were essentially the same, but Mirza was officially elected as President by the Assembly. During his presidency, Pakistan was politically unstable, this was marked by four different prime ministers in two years.

Military coup d'état

In 1958, Mirza decided that the 1956 Constitution was contributing to political instability; on 7 October, he declared martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 with the view to introducing a new constitution "more suited to the genius of the Pakistani people" in November, as he believed democracy was unsuited to Pakistan "with its 15% literacy rate" (although the same problem of low literacy also existed in India which had opted for democracy). He appointed the commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army
Pakistan Army
The Pakistan Army is the branch of the Pakistani Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. The Pakistan Army came into existence after the Partition of India and the resulting independence of Pakistan in 1947. It is currently headed by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The Pakistan...

, Ayub Khan, as the martial law administrator, which proved his undoing.

Ayub Khan declared himself President on 27 October after a bloodless coup d'état, and Mirza was exiled to London.

Honours

  • India General Service Medal (1936)
    India General Service Medal (1936)
    The Indian General Service Medal was a campaign medal approved on 3 August 1938, for issue to officers and men of the British and Indian armies....

  • King George V Silver Jubilee Medal
    King George V Silver Jubilee Medal
    The King George V Silver Jubilee Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the coronation of King George V.-Issue:...

    -1935
  • King George VI Coronation Medal
    King George VI Coronation Medal
    The King George VI Coronation Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the coronation of King George VI.-Issue:For Coronation and Jubilee medals, the practice up until 1977 was that United Kingdom authorities decided on a total number to be produced, then allocated a proportion to each of...

    -1937
  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)-1939
  • Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE)-1945
  • Pakistan Independence Medal-1948
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
    Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
    The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.-Issue:For Coronation and Jubilee medals, the practice up until 1977 was that United Kingdom authorities decided on a total number to be produced, then allocated a proportion to...

    -1953
  • Grand Collar of the Order of Pahlavi of the Empire of Iran-1956
  • Order of the Supreme Sun, 1st Class of the Kingdom of Afghanistan
    Kingdom of Afghanistan
    The Kingdom of Afghanistan was an Islamic monarchy in south Central Asia established in 1926 as a successor state to the Emirate of Afghanistan, following the ascension to the throne by Amanullah Khan and his proclaming Afghanistan a kingdom in 1926, after 7 years on the throne...

    -1958

Family

On 24 November 1922, Iskander married Rif'a'at Begum (1907-23 March 1967). The couple had two sons and four daughters.

In October 1954, Iskander married Iranian born Naheed Begum (1914-), the couple had no children. Naheed Begum was a close friend of Begum Nusrat Bhutto. Because of this friendship Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was introduced into political arena of Pakistan.

Death

Mirza lived in exile in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 until his death. He died of a heart-attack in London on 12 November 1969, the day before his 70th birthday. It is reported that Mirza struggled financially while living in London. After Yahya Khan
Yahya Khan
General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan Qizilbash, H.Pk, HJ, S.Pk, psc was the third President of Pakistan from 1969 to 1971, following the resignation of Ayub Khan...

's military government refused to allow him to be buried in his own country, his body was flown to Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 where the Shah of Iran gave him a State Funeral.

Excerpts From Major General Iskander Mirza's Letter to His Children

Mr. Chundrigar is now Prime Minister and I hope the present Government will continue until general election in November 1958. I am quite sure there will be a new President in the new set-up. I am tired of trying to keep the country on the rails and wish all the luck to my successor. With 15% literacy we are trying to run a Constitution which requires 70% literacy - This is the basis of all our troubles.
I trusted the Army and in Military honour of General Ayub khan. This was an error of judgment, and people who got on top and misjudge as I did have no right to complain and deserve what they get. This is the end of an episode as far as I am concerned. Individuals don't count, it is the country which matters.

Signed
I.A.M.

See also

Major-General Sahibzada Sayyid
Sayyid
Sayyid is an honorific title, it denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali, sons of the prophet's daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.Daughters of sayyids are given the titles Sayyida,...

 Iskander Ali Mirza
, CIE
Order of the Indian Empire
The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire is an order of chivalry founded by Queen Victoria in 1878. The Order includes members of three classes:#Knight Grand Commander #Knight Commander #Companion...

, OBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

: اسکندر مرزا) (December 14, 1898 – November 12, 1969) was the fourth and last Governor-General
Governor-General of Pakistan
The Governor-General of Pakistan was the representative in Pakistan of the Crown from the country's independence in 1947. When Pakistan was proclaimed a republic in 1956 the connection with the British monarchy ended, and the office of Governor-General was abolished.-History:Pakistan gained...

 of the Dominion of Pakistan
Dominion of Pakistan
The Dominion of Pakistan was an independent federal Commonwealth realm in South Asia that was established in 1947 on the partition of British India into two sovereign dominions . The Dominion of Pakistan, which included modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, was intended to be a homeland for the...

 (6 October 1955 to 23 March 1956), and the first President
President of Pakistan
The President of Pakistan is the head of state, as well as figurehead, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Recently passed an XVIII Amendment , Pakistan has a parliamentary democratic system of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a...

 of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 (23 March 1956 to 27 October 1958).

Early life

Iskander Ali Mirza was born at Murshidabad
Murshidabad
Murshidabad is a city in Murshidabad district of West Bengal state in India. The city of Murshidabad is located on the southern bank of the Bhagirathi, a distributary of the Ganges River. It was the capital of undivided Bengal during the Mughal rule. Nawabs of Bengal used to rule Bengal from this...

, Bengal
Bengal Presidency
The Bengal Presidency originally comprising east and west Bengal, was a colonial region of the British Empire in South-Asia and beyond it. It comprised areas which are now within Bangladesh, and the present day Indian States of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Orissa and Tripura.Penang and...

, on 14 December 1898, the eldest son of Sahibzada Sayyid Muhammad Fateh Ali Mirza (1874–1949) and his first wife, Dishad Begum (1879–1924). Muhammad Fateh Ali Mirza was a duke of the ruling house of Murshidabad
Murshidabad
Murshidabad is a city in Murshidabad district of West Bengal state in India. The city of Murshidabad is located on the southern bank of the Bhagirathi, a distributary of the Ganges River. It was the capital of undivided Bengal during the Mughal rule. Nawabs of Bengal used to rule Bengal from this...

 and son of Nawab Mansur Ali Khan, the first Nawab of Bengal
Nawab of Bengal
The Nawabs of Bengal were the hereditary nazims or subadars of the subah of Bengal during the Mughal rule and the de-facto rulers of the province.-History:...

. Mirza was a descendant of Gaddar-e-Abrar Mir Jafar
Mir Jafar
-Notes:# "Riyazu-s-salatin", Ghulam Husain Salim - a reference to the appointment of Mohanlal can be found # "Seir Muaqherin", Ghulam Husain Tabatabai - a reference to the conspiracy can be found...

. He was a Shi'a Muslim, as his emblem displayed the sign of the Zulfiqar
Zulfiqar
Zulfiqar "bifurcated" is the sword of the Islamic leader Ali. In Arabic the name is commonly transliterated as Dhu al-Fiqar, Thulfeqar, Dhulfiqar, Zoulfikar etc. The name Zulfiqar means which divides exactly in two parts....

, the sword of Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 (son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad ). He grew up in Bombay. After completing his early education at Elphinstone College
Elphinstone College
Elphinstone College is an institution of higher education affiliated to the University of Mumbai. Established in 1856, it is one of the oldest colleges of the University of Mumbai. It was exalted as a prestigious seat of learning during the British Raj and is generally observed for its vibrant alumni...

, of the then-University of Bombay
University of Mumbai
The University of Mumbai , is a state university located in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. It was known as the University of Bombay until 1996 when the city of Bombay was renamed as Mumbai. The affiliated colleges of the university are spread throughout the city of Mumbai and four coastal districts in...

, he was educated at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst , commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is a British Army officer initial training centre located in Sandhurst, Berkshire, England...

, becoming the first graduate from the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 at the academy, and was commissioned into the British Indian Army
British Indian Army
The British Indian Army, officially simply the Indian Army, was the principal army of the British Raj in India before the partition of India in 1947...

 in 1920.

He was attached to the 2nd Battalion, Cameronians 16 July 1920, and served in the Khodad Khel Operations 1921 and at Waziristan
Waziristan
Waziristan is a mountainous region near the Northwest of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11,585 km² . The area is entirely populated by ethnic Pashtuns . The language spoken in the valley is Pashto/Pakhto...

 1924. He was transferred to the 17th Poona Horse (Queen Victoria's Own) later that year, and joined the Indian Political Service
Indian Political Service
The Indian Political Service was a department of the Indian Civil Service during the British Raj.The political officers assigned to the service - many of whom were British Army and British Indian Army officers on secondment - were responsible for the civil administration of frontier districts, and...

 in 1926. He was Assistant Commissioner at Abbottabad 1926-1928, Bannu 1928-1930, Nowshera 1930-1933, and Tank 1933, a Deputy Commissioner at Hazara 1933-1936 & at Mardan 1936-1938. He was a Political Agent Khyber 1938-1940, Deputy Commissioner Peshawar & Political Agent to the Mohmands 1940, Political Agent Orissa States 1945-1946, Joint Defence Secretary India 1946-1947 and Defence Secretary. Mirza only served in the army for six years, after which he was the first Indian to be accepted in the elite Indian Political Service
Indian Political Service
The Indian Political Service was a department of the Indian Civil Service during the British Raj.The political officers assigned to the service - many of whom were British Army and British Indian Army officers on secondment - were responsible for the civil administration of frontier districts, and...

, eventually becoming a joint secretary in the Ministry of Defence of British India. In this position, he was responsible for dividing the British Indian Army into the future armies of Pakistan and India.

Defence Secretary and Governor-General

Upon the formation of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Mirza—at the time, the highest-ranking Muslim civil servant in the nation—was made the Defence Secretary
Defence Secretary of Pakistan
Defence Secretary of Pakistan is the highest bureaucratic position within the Ministry of Defence of Pakistan. Following is the list of the defence secretaries to date....

 of the new nation. In 1954, he was made governor of East Pakistan
East Pakistan
East Pakistan was a provincial state of Pakistan established in 14 August 1947. The provincial state existed until its declaration of independence on 26 March 1971 as the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan recognized the new nation on 16 December 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengal...

 to bring order to the politically distressed region. This position was followed by his being appointed Minister of Interior and Frontier Regions in Muhammad Ali Bogra
Muhammad Ali Bogra
Nawabzada Mohammed Ali Bogra was a Pakistani statesman of Bengali origin, who served as the third Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1953 until 1955.-Early life:...

's cabinet. In 1955, he became acting Governor-General, before becoming the last Governor-General of Pakistan.

Mirza was also a great advocate of the One Unit
One Unit
One-Unit was the title of a scheme launched by the federal government of Pakistan to merge the four provinces of West Pakistan into one homogenous unit, as a counterbalance against the numerical domination of the ethnic Bengalis of East Pakistan...

 scheme, and believed in the separation of state and religion. When Mirza succeeded the ailing Malik Ghulam Muhammad as Governor-General, he was married to his second wife, Nahid Mirza, an Iranian lady who had previously been the wife of the Military Attaché of Iran in Pakistan.

President of Pakistan

In 1956, Pakistan established its first constitution, and the position of Governor-General was replaced by that of President
President of Pakistan
The President of Pakistan is the head of state, as well as figurehead, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Recently passed an XVIII Amendment , Pakistan has a parliamentary democratic system of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a...

. The two were essentially the same, but Mirza was officially elected as President by the Assembly. During his presidency, Pakistan was politically unstable, this was marked by four different prime ministers in two years.

Military coup d'état

In 1958, Mirza decided that the 1956 Constitution was contributing to political instability; on 7 October, he declared martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 with the view to introducing a new constitution "more suited to the genius of the Pakistani people" in November, as he believed democracy was unsuited to Pakistan "with its 15% literacy rate" (although the same problem of low literacy also existed in India which had opted for democracy). He appointed the commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army
Pakistan Army
The Pakistan Army is the branch of the Pakistani Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. The Pakistan Army came into existence after the Partition of India and the resulting independence of Pakistan in 1947. It is currently headed by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The Pakistan...

, Ayub Khan, as the martial law administrator, which proved his undoing.

Ayub Khan declared himself President on 27 October after a bloodless coup d'état, and Mirza was exiled to London.

Honours

  • India General Service Medal (1936)
    India General Service Medal (1936)
    The Indian General Service Medal was a campaign medal approved on 3 August 1938, for issue to officers and men of the British and Indian armies....

  • King George V Silver Jubilee Medal
    King George V Silver Jubilee Medal
    The King George V Silver Jubilee Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the coronation of King George V.-Issue:...

    -1935
  • King George VI Coronation Medal
    King George VI Coronation Medal
    The King George VI Coronation Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the coronation of King George VI.-Issue:For Coronation and Jubilee medals, the practice up until 1977 was that United Kingdom authorities decided on a total number to be produced, then allocated a proportion to each of...

    -1937
  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)-1939
  • Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE)-1945
  • Pakistan Independence Medal-1948
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
    Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
    The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.-Issue:For Coronation and Jubilee medals, the practice up until 1977 was that United Kingdom authorities decided on a total number to be produced, then allocated a proportion to...

    -1953
  • Grand Collar of the Order of Pahlavi of the Empire of Iran-1956
  • Order of the Supreme Sun, 1st Class of the Kingdom of Afghanistan
    Kingdom of Afghanistan
    The Kingdom of Afghanistan was an Islamic monarchy in south Central Asia established in 1926 as a successor state to the Emirate of Afghanistan, following the ascension to the throne by Amanullah Khan and his proclaming Afghanistan a kingdom in 1926, after 7 years on the throne...

    -1958

Family

On 24 November 1922, Iskander married Rif'a'at Begum (1907-23 March 1967). The couple had two sons and four daughters.

In October 1954, Iskander married Iranian born Naheed Begum (1914-), the couple had no children. Naheed Begum was a close friend of Begum Nusrat Bhutto. Because of this friendship Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was introduced into political arena of Pakistan.

Death

Mirza lived in exile in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 until his death. He died of a heart-attack in London on 12 November 1969, the day before his 70th birthday. It is reported that Mirza struggled financially while living in London. After Yahya Khan
Yahya Khan
General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan Qizilbash, H.Pk, HJ, S.Pk, psc was the third President of Pakistan from 1969 to 1971, following the resignation of Ayub Khan...

's military government refused to allow him to be buried in his own country, his body was flown to Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 where the Shah of Iran gave him a State Funeral.

Excerpts From Major General Iskander Mirza's Letter to His Children

Mr. Chundrigar is now Prime Minister and I hope the present Government will continue until general election in November 1958. I am quite sure there will be a new President in the new set-up. I am tired of trying to keep the country on the rails and wish all the luck to my successor. With 15% literacy we are trying to run a Constitution which requires 70% literacy - This is the basis of all our troubles.
I trusted the Army and in Military honour of General Ayub khan. This was an error of judgment, and people who got on top and misjudge as I did have no right to complain and deserve what they get. This is the end of an episode as far as I am concerned. Individuals don't count, it is the country which matters.

Signed
I.A.M.

See also

Major-General Sahibzada Sayyid
Sayyid
Sayyid is an honorific title, it denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali, sons of the prophet's daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.Daughters of sayyids are given the titles Sayyida,...

 Iskander Ali Mirza
, CIE
Order of the Indian Empire
The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire is an order of chivalry founded by Queen Victoria in 1878. The Order includes members of three classes:#Knight Grand Commander #Knight Commander #Companion...

, OBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

: اسکندر مرزا) (December 14, 1898 – November 12, 1969) was the fourth and last Governor-General
Governor-General of Pakistan
The Governor-General of Pakistan was the representative in Pakistan of the Crown from the country's independence in 1947. When Pakistan was proclaimed a republic in 1956 the connection with the British monarchy ended, and the office of Governor-General was abolished.-History:Pakistan gained...

 of the Dominion of Pakistan
Dominion of Pakistan
The Dominion of Pakistan was an independent federal Commonwealth realm in South Asia that was established in 1947 on the partition of British India into two sovereign dominions . The Dominion of Pakistan, which included modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, was intended to be a homeland for the...

 (6 October 1955 to 23 March 1956), and the first President
President of Pakistan
The President of Pakistan is the head of state, as well as figurehead, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Recently passed an XVIII Amendment , Pakistan has a parliamentary democratic system of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a...

 of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 (23 March 1956 to 27 October 1958).

Early life

Iskander Ali Mirza was born at Murshidabad
Murshidabad
Murshidabad is a city in Murshidabad district of West Bengal state in India. The city of Murshidabad is located on the southern bank of the Bhagirathi, a distributary of the Ganges River. It was the capital of undivided Bengal during the Mughal rule. Nawabs of Bengal used to rule Bengal from this...

, Bengal
Bengal Presidency
The Bengal Presidency originally comprising east and west Bengal, was a colonial region of the British Empire in South-Asia and beyond it. It comprised areas which are now within Bangladesh, and the present day Indian States of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Orissa and Tripura.Penang and...

, on 14 December 1898, the eldest son of Sahibzada Sayyid Muhammad Fateh Ali Mirza (1874–1949) and his first wife, Dishad Begum (1879–1924). Muhammad Fateh Ali Mirza was a duke of the ruling house of Murshidabad
Murshidabad
Murshidabad is a city in Murshidabad district of West Bengal state in India. The city of Murshidabad is located on the southern bank of the Bhagirathi, a distributary of the Ganges River. It was the capital of undivided Bengal during the Mughal rule. Nawabs of Bengal used to rule Bengal from this...

 and son of Nawab Mansur Ali Khan, the first Nawab of Bengal
Nawab of Bengal
The Nawabs of Bengal were the hereditary nazims or subadars of the subah of Bengal during the Mughal rule and the de-facto rulers of the province.-History:...

. Mirza was a descendant of Gaddar-e-Abrar Mir Jafar
Mir Jafar
-Notes:# "Riyazu-s-salatin", Ghulam Husain Salim - a reference to the appointment of Mohanlal can be found # "Seir Muaqherin", Ghulam Husain Tabatabai - a reference to the conspiracy can be found...

. He was a Shi'a Muslim, as his emblem displayed the sign of the Zulfiqar
Zulfiqar
Zulfiqar "bifurcated" is the sword of the Islamic leader Ali. In Arabic the name is commonly transliterated as Dhu al-Fiqar, Thulfeqar, Dhulfiqar, Zoulfikar etc. The name Zulfiqar means which divides exactly in two parts....

, the sword of Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 (son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad ). He grew up in Bombay. After completing his early education at Elphinstone College
Elphinstone College
Elphinstone College is an institution of higher education affiliated to the University of Mumbai. Established in 1856, it is one of the oldest colleges of the University of Mumbai. It was exalted as a prestigious seat of learning during the British Raj and is generally observed for its vibrant alumni...

, of the then-University of Bombay
University of Mumbai
The University of Mumbai , is a state university located in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. It was known as the University of Bombay until 1996 when the city of Bombay was renamed as Mumbai. The affiliated colleges of the university are spread throughout the city of Mumbai and four coastal districts in...

, he was educated at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst , commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is a British Army officer initial training centre located in Sandhurst, Berkshire, England...

, becoming the first graduate from the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 at the academy, and was commissioned into the British Indian Army
British Indian Army
The British Indian Army, officially simply the Indian Army, was the principal army of the British Raj in India before the partition of India in 1947...

 in 1920.

He was attached to the 2nd Battalion, Cameronians 16 July 1920, and served in the Khodad Khel Operations 1921 and at Waziristan
Waziristan
Waziristan is a mountainous region near the Northwest of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11,585 km² . The area is entirely populated by ethnic Pashtuns . The language spoken in the valley is Pashto/Pakhto...

 1924. He was transferred to the 17th Poona Horse (Queen Victoria's Own) later that year, and joined the Indian Political Service
Indian Political Service
The Indian Political Service was a department of the Indian Civil Service during the British Raj.The political officers assigned to the service - many of whom were British Army and British Indian Army officers on secondment - were responsible for the civil administration of frontier districts, and...

 in 1926. He was Assistant Commissioner at Abbottabad 1926-1928, Bannu 1928-1930, Nowshera 1930-1933, and Tank 1933, a Deputy Commissioner at Hazara 1933-1936 & at Mardan 1936-1938. He was a Political Agent Khyber 1938-1940, Deputy Commissioner Peshawar & Political Agent to the Mohmands 1940, Political Agent Orissa States 1945-1946, Joint Defence Secretary India 1946-1947 and Defence Secretary. Mirza only served in the army for six years, after which he was the first Indian to be accepted in the elite Indian Political Service
Indian Political Service
The Indian Political Service was a department of the Indian Civil Service during the British Raj.The political officers assigned to the service - many of whom were British Army and British Indian Army officers on secondment - were responsible for the civil administration of frontier districts, and...

, eventually becoming a joint secretary in the Ministry of Defence of British India. In this position, he was responsible for dividing the British Indian Army into the future armies of Pakistan and India.

Defence Secretary and Governor-General

Upon the formation of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Mirza—at the time, the highest-ranking Muslim civil servant in the nation—was made the Defence Secretary
Defence Secretary of Pakistan
Defence Secretary of Pakistan is the highest bureaucratic position within the Ministry of Defence of Pakistan. Following is the list of the defence secretaries to date....

 of the new nation. In 1954, he was made governor of East Pakistan
East Pakistan
East Pakistan was a provincial state of Pakistan established in 14 August 1947. The provincial state existed until its declaration of independence on 26 March 1971 as the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan recognized the new nation on 16 December 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengal...

 to bring order to the politically distressed region. This position was followed by his being appointed Minister of Interior and Frontier Regions in Muhammad Ali Bogra
Muhammad Ali Bogra
Nawabzada Mohammed Ali Bogra was a Pakistani statesman of Bengali origin, who served as the third Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1953 until 1955.-Early life:...

's cabinet. In 1955, he became acting Governor-General, before becoming the last Governor-General of Pakistan.

Mirza was also a great advocate of the One Unit
One Unit
One-Unit was the title of a scheme launched by the federal government of Pakistan to merge the four provinces of West Pakistan into one homogenous unit, as a counterbalance against the numerical domination of the ethnic Bengalis of East Pakistan...

 scheme, and believed in the separation of state and religion. When Mirza succeeded the ailing Malik Ghulam Muhammad as Governor-General, he was married to his second wife, Nahid Mirza, an Iranian lady who had previously been the wife of the Military Attaché of Iran in Pakistan.

President of Pakistan

In 1956, Pakistan established its first constitution, and the position of Governor-General was replaced by that of President
President of Pakistan
The President of Pakistan is the head of state, as well as figurehead, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Recently passed an XVIII Amendment , Pakistan has a parliamentary democratic system of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a...

. The two were essentially the same, but Mirza was officially elected as President by the Assembly. During his presidency, Pakistan was politically unstable, this was marked by four different prime ministers in two years.

Military coup d'état

In 1958, Mirza decided that the 1956 Constitution was contributing to political instability; on 7 October, he declared martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 with the view to introducing a new constitution "more suited to the genius of the Pakistani people" in November, as he believed democracy was unsuited to Pakistan "with its 15% literacy rate" (although the same problem of low literacy also existed in India which had opted for democracy). He appointed the commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army
Pakistan Army
The Pakistan Army is the branch of the Pakistani Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. The Pakistan Army came into existence after the Partition of India and the resulting independence of Pakistan in 1947. It is currently headed by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The Pakistan...

, Ayub Khan, as the martial law administrator, which proved his undoing.

Ayub Khan declared himself President on 27 October after a bloodless coup d'état, and Mirza was exiled to London.

Honours

  • India General Service Medal (1936)
    India General Service Medal (1936)
    The Indian General Service Medal was a campaign medal approved on 3 August 1938, for issue to officers and men of the British and Indian armies....

  • King George V Silver Jubilee Medal
    King George V Silver Jubilee Medal
    The King George V Silver Jubilee Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the coronation of King George V.-Issue:...

    -1935
  • King George VI Coronation Medal
    King George VI Coronation Medal
    The King George VI Coronation Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the coronation of King George VI.-Issue:For Coronation and Jubilee medals, the practice up until 1977 was that United Kingdom authorities decided on a total number to be produced, then allocated a proportion to each of...

    -1937
  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)-1939
  • Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE)-1945
  • Pakistan Independence Medal-1948
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
    Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
    The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.-Issue:For Coronation and Jubilee medals, the practice up until 1977 was that United Kingdom authorities decided on a total number to be produced, then allocated a proportion to...

    -1953
  • Grand Collar of the Order of Pahlavi of the Empire of Iran-1956
  • Order of the Supreme Sun, 1st Class of the Kingdom of Afghanistan
    Kingdom of Afghanistan
    The Kingdom of Afghanistan was an Islamic monarchy in south Central Asia established in 1926 as a successor state to the Emirate of Afghanistan, following the ascension to the throne by Amanullah Khan and his proclaming Afghanistan a kingdom in 1926, after 7 years on the throne...

    -1958

Family

On 24 November 1922, Iskander married Rif'a'at Begum (1907-23 March 1967). The couple had two sons and four daughters.

In October 1954, Iskander married Iranian born Naheed Begum (1914-), the couple had no children. Naheed Begum was a close friend of Begum Nusrat Bhutto. Because of this friendship Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was introduced into political arena of Pakistan.

Death

Mirza lived in exile in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 until his death. He died of a heart-attack in London on 12 November 1969, the day before his 70th birthday. It is reported that Mirza struggled financially while living in London. After Yahya Khan
Yahya Khan
General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan Qizilbash, H.Pk, HJ, S.Pk, psc was the third President of Pakistan from 1969 to 1971, following the resignation of Ayub Khan...

's military government refused to allow him to be buried in his own country, his body was flown to Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 where the Shah of Iran gave him a State Funeral.

Excerpts From Major General Iskander Mirza's Letter to His Children

Mr. Chundrigar is now Prime Minister and I hope the present Government will continue until general election in November 1958. I am quite sure there will be a new President in the new set-up. I am tired of trying to keep the country on the rails and wish all the luck to my successor. With 15% literacy we are trying to run a Constitution which requires 70% literacy - This is the basis of all our troubles.
I trusted the Army and in Military honour of General Ayub khan. This was an error of judgment, and people who got on top and misjudge as I did have no right to complain and deserve what they get. This is the end of an episode as far as I am concerned. Individuals don't count, it is the country which matters.

Signed
I.A.M.

See also

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