Part I can be read at: https://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/the-coup-of-1951-part-1/
Part II can be read at: https://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/coup-of-1951part-ii/
Part III can be read at https://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/coup-of-1951part-iii/
Part IV can be read at https://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/coup-of-1951part-iv/
Major Eusoph Sethi [approver number two] on the morning of 23rd feb-1951 left instructions to his driver to bring his guests [accused number 13,14 & 15 i.e Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Sajjad Zaheer & M.H.Atta. All members of the Communist party] to the CGS House before 1000 hours. He himself proceeded to inform Brig. Ziauddin[accused number six] and Col. Hassan [accused number nine] about the time of the conference-according to the recorded testimony of Major Sethi the atmosphere in the house that day was of suppressed excitement. All guests were being directed towards a side conference room in the CGS House, Gen-Akbar was constantly on the move he had a sheaf of papers in his hand, which he was reading to himself and meeting all incoming guests on their turn and walking them to the conference venue and introducing them to the rest. By the time Sethi, had reached the house Col. Hassan, Capt. Khizer Hyat[accused number eight] & Capt. Zaffarullah Poshni [accused number eleven] were already in the conference room ,Later came the three guests from his house-followed by Brig. Ziauddin and Lt-Col Siddique Raja [approver number one] later Lt. Col Arbab arrived but without Lt-Col. Tor Gul as the night before all three; Arbab, Tor Gul and Khizer had been at a dinner at the CGS house and were to be present on time the next day. Arbab was sent back to bring in Tor Gul.
The meeting started at 1030 hours, Gen. Akbar started his address by quoting examples of successful coup d’état’s and stated that all coups came about because of bad governments, therefore the current inefficient and corrupt government needed to be changed as he had been studying the role of this government since its inception with its strong pro-Anglo-American tilt and they being totally pro-India as was seen in the Kashmir liberation war, whereas if we stood with soviet or Chinese bloc we had a better chance of having a strong backing to liberate Kashmir. In view of this he had decided that the only option left to implement this could be through a Coup d’état, whose planning covering all contingencies had already been done and he would shortly give out the broad outline with a tentative date and further stated that after his speech he would appreciate that, the three civilian guests to kindly give out their views individually on the subject.
The Gist of the operational plan was as under ;
The tentative date fixed was that of night 3rd/4th March 1951-when the Prime Minister would be in Rawalpindi in connection with the Punjab Assembly Election Campaign Gen Akbar would proceed to his office in GHQ and direct parties of officers assigned to arrest the Prime Minister, the C in C[Ayub khan],the GOC 7 Division
Major Gen Hayauddin, Brig. Altaf Qadir the local Brigade Commander Rawalpindi, Lt. Gen. Meckay the Chief of Staff, as well other higher civil and military officials who were pro-government. To carry out this plan two companies of 2nd/1st Punjab would move in from Thal on the appointed hour and 3 AK Battalion from Kahuta would likewise arrive at the time given if more troops were required they would be procured from 4th/13th FFR stationed at Rawalpindi, and its previous commander Col. Siddique raja would make the arrangements.
Meanwhile as the CGS-Gen Akbar would call in all GOC’s on a pretext and once they were here, he would individually speak with all brigade commanders and appraise them of the change and the promotion of the senior most in the next post.
At Peshawar Major Gen. Majid GOC 9 Division would be called in to GHQ-whereas Brig Siddique Khan [accused number four] of [Bannu brigade] would take over 9 Division, he would be assisted by the GSO-1 of the said Division-Lt-Col Khurshid Ali Khan.
At Abbottabad- Brig. Jeelani would revert to GHQ and be put under arrest, his replacement would be Lt. Col. Muhammad Akbar Khan the CO- 4th/16th FFR and Major-Ishaq Muhammad [accused number ten] would take over 4th/16th FFR Hazarah valley had a special significance in the plan, Gen. Akbar had pointed at Muhammad Hussain Atta and informed the participants of the meeting, that Atta was heading a underground movement being the secretary of provincial Communist party NWFP. The plan envisaged that 500 rifles with adequate ammunition would be issued to his workers-they would become the nucleus of the new Peoples
Army to provide support to the contingency plan-which catered for a failed coup‘d’état. The Abbottabad Brigade would spearhead the new revolution. Here it should be kept in mind that Brig Ziauddin was from Kotli and was the head of GHQ Azad which had 25,000 armed troops in shape of various AK battalions beside the other para-military outfits the legacy of the Kashmir war just concluded whose strength were the 70,000 DE mobbed ex-servicemen of first and second world wars and Col. Hassan had his own forces which could be reactivated should the need be-from the Gilgit Baltistan regions beside those from Chitral who too had fought under their INA leaders for the liberation of Kashmir and G.B. The Lashkars which had come from across the Durand line as well from the NWFP agencies all knew Gen. Akbar personally, as they had fought in the liberation war-and one to all were unhappy over the cowardly role of Liaqat Ali Khan in the Kashmir war and him not taking Kashmir when being given by Sardar Patel on a platter in lieu of Nizam of Hyderabad’s state
At Lahore-Gen Akbar was confident that his offer to Gen. Azam to become the Governor Punjab would be welcomed by him and that Brig. Bakhtiar Rana would be pleased to take over as GOC 10 Division he would be assisted by Brig. Haq Nawaz Malik and Lt-Col Nausherwan.
At Quetta-Brig Latif was fully qualified to take over the region being the local brigade commander and the Station Commander and if need be would assist Air-Commodore M. K. Janjua at Karachi.
One special problem which still had to be tackled was that of Major Gen Greaves the GOC of Bahawalpur Division-but Gen. Akbar was confident that once the Prime Minister had handed over the power to the military council he would go along.
At Karachi major flaws existed in the planning and Gen. Akbar felt that M. K. Janjua would not have adequate manpower to manage the whole show on time-therefore Akbar had asked Major Majid who was at Quetta staff College to proceed back to his unit-which was located at Malir and assist M. K. Janjua. At this very moment there was a knock on the door and Gen.Akbar went out to return back shortly-with a smile on his face and said that it was M.K.Janjua on the phone from Karachi informing him, that, all loopholes in Karachi stand covered.
In the execution phase of the plan the Prime Minister would be made to deliver a speech whereby at 0700 hours on 04 March 1951,he would broadcast, from the Radio Pakistan, that he had handed over the Government to a Military Council which Akbar felt would legitimize the takeover.
The gist of this declaration would be as under;
”That an emergency had arisen in the country, keeping in view the gravity, he [Liaqat Ali Khan] was handing over the Government of Pakistan to the Military Council-consisting of three armed forces new chiefs [Akbar, Janjua & Siddiq Choudri.] that he [liaqat] had henceforth resigned as the Prime minister and public and all the government servants should obey the new military council”.
After the conclusion of his speech Akbar requested his three communist friends to give their views-
Faiz Ahmad Fiaz spoke first-the gist of his speech was that the public at large was fed up by this highly inefficient government which to-date remained clueless of its National Agenda- and he knew the pulse as he was in the hub of all journalist activity, which controlled the print media-which regulated the opinions that the public opinion would be moulded in such a way that there will no reaction from public on the take over-and their intentions were noble and they would implement drastic changes. Sajjad Zaheer the second speaker-stated that the Soviet model was ideal for Pakistan and a combination of the best brains of civil and military could bring about the change that would stop the rot within and put an end to the government being run by Nawab’s and the rich, who were the lackeys of the Anglo-American bloc, the land and wealth of Pakistan should be equally divided amongst all and meritocracy should rule supreme. Thereafter all participants of the meeting gave short speeches each stressing that the Coup d’état was the need of the hour and all agreed to the timings and the tentative date.
Here a twist was seen in the defense when the trial proceedings started each of the accused negated his speech and all stressed that the operation had been aborted and that it was not a workable plan and it was said so by each participant that it should be put off till some other time which was apparently the work of the lawyers defending the accused.
However the prosecution negated there stance on the grounds that after this meeting Gen. Akbar had proceeded to Karachi and was involved in numerous meetings, as were the activities of others too-which only showed they were going ahead with their plan-yes the date might have been postponed.
It was infact Col. Siddique Raja who had gone the next day-24 Feb and met Brig. Habibullah at GHQ. who on hearing the gist of the meeting & the date panicked and told him to leave his office and that he would contact him later. Col.Sidique Raja again met Brig. Habibullah on the 26th Feb who advised him to go along with the coup party and inform accordingly so he could inform the higher authorities. However in the trial proceedings Brig. Habibullah stated that he on the first day had informed Col. Siddique raja to inform the C in C Ayub khan.
However it maybe pertinent here to note that on 26 Feb. Ayub khan and Iskandar Mirza both were cross-questioning the CID staff about this coup in Peshawar as they had been informed by the Prime Minister from Sargodha where he was following his Punjab assembly election campaign. As per the sequence after this meeting Ayub and Iskandar had called Col. Siddique raja-and grilled him and he had blurted all.
It was generally believed that the Tip off had come to the GOP about this prospective Coup by the British Intelligence operators, much earlier and they all had been under civil [CID] surveillance now for quite some time. Gen. Akbar the way he was going about throwing caution to the wind-had hardly kept it as a secret operation as he was a blunt person and not all discreet by nature. He was continuously found in Army messes criticizing the government-and if someone intervened, he would turn around with a smile on his face and ask-”all right, what should be done to stop this rot.’
In any case both Akbar and Nasim Akbar had been moving with the communist party members since August 1947-primarily in relation to the Kashmir war clandestine operations and Nasim Akbar was in touch with Latif Afghani and Faiz Ahmad Faiz and the sister of Latif Afghani[Ms Mehr Khan] was a constant companion of Nasim Akbar. Latif Afghan was a known activist and had served sentences as a school student leader against the British Rule in India-He had a high family profile, His father Sardar Abdur Rahim was the Trade Commissioner for the Afghan Government during the reign of King Amanullah and a personal friend of the King and was located at Peshawar, After the fall of the Kingdom of Amanullah and rise of Bachha Saqa. He had not joined the new government but worked studiously to overthrow it. Later when the British had brought in Nadir Khan from France as their stooge-along with T.E. Lawrence in tow to help remove Bachha Saqa. Sardar Abdur Rahim had worked tirelessly in this war-and used all his old contacts in the hope that King Amanullah would be restored back on the Kabul Throne. However when by guile and unlimited British silver/Gold support and the endeavors’ of people like Sardar Abdur Rahim who were the guides to the right people who mattered for a change. Nadir Khan was chosen by the British to become the new king of Kabul and not Amanullah. So a need arose to remove the pro-King Amanullah group leader from the scene, Sardar Abdur Rahim and his family was banished to Rangoon, where they were kept till 1934-after that as Burma was separated from British Indian Empire-in 1935 they were shifted to Madras under the surveillance of the British special Branch and detained there till 1947.Latif Afghani got his education in Madras and Bangalore ,he became activist even in school; as a union leader, he was imprisoned for five months later released and put under house arrest, nevertheless, he became the joint secretary of all India-Student Federation and subsequently member of the Communist party. Later he joined the Muslim league National guard under Major-Khursheed Anwar and worked against the unionist rule of Sir Khizer Hyat Tiwana premier of Punjab. Here too he was caught and imprisoned. The sister of Latif Afghani had been given a scholarship by King Amanullah and had studied in Turkey. Ms Mehr Khan remained very close with Nasim Akbar and had joined the Woman’s Guard.
It is not known when Latif Afghani first met Gen. Akbar, however one thing is certain he was his main conduit within the communist party hierarchy. As per the testimony given by Maj.Eusoph Sethi the approver number two Latif Afghani during the liberation war had been given a honorary of a full colonel by Gen. Akbar and assigned with a mandate to raise the Kashmir Home Militia Guard. This force was independent of the GHQ Azad and even of Tariq Headquarter Kashmir. Latif Afghani in a short while had raised and trained even replacements for the GHQ Azad and quickly organized porter companies, as well as local home militia to guard all the vital bridges and passes in Kashmir, he had also established a network of intelligence and counter intelligence which was regularly feeding the army and civil intelligence agencies. Beside all this it, should be kept in mind that it was Latif Afghani who had also led to procure the help of across the Durand line lashkars which came to fight the Kashmir war. And it was he who had taken volunteers from Rawalpindi and the rifles when the operation was launched to seize the Srinagar Airfield, in early week of November 1947.
In April 1949, Latif Afghani had become the president of the Democratic Student’s Federation [DSF] in March 1950 came the visit of the Shah of Iran to Lahore. The DSF decided to greet this monarch with handbills denouncing his draconian rule over the people of Iran, The members of DSF were to quickly to distribute these handbills and later merge with gathered crowds lined up to greet the Shah, Latif Afghani got delayed in his distribution and so was picked up by the agencies. Tried and sentenced to a three years imprisonment. The handbills had been drafted by Sajjad Zaheer. That is why he missed the Coup meetings.
[To be continued…]