The death of Sahabzada Yaqub Khan at the ripe age of 95 may not shock many a man, but it does bring to out how remarkably multifaceted a person’s career could be. He was not only a military commander but also a statesman, diplomat, intellectual and one who could converse in 10 languages. In his death Pakistan has lost a rare human being and a remarkable personality.
Sahabzada Yaqub Khan was a thinking general; he refused to conduct military operation in the then East Pakistan and resigned from the army when rebuffed for demanding ‘solutions of sanity’. As a major in 1948 he fought against his own brother who held equal rank in the Indian army. He served in North Africa as an officer of the British army and was taken prisoner and spent three years in the Axis prison. As major-general he participated in the 1965 war. Years later he was appointed as UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to the Western Sahara. The Sahabzada joined Foreign Service of Pakistan in 1973, and served as ambassador to France, Soviet Union and the United States before being elevated to the position of foreign minister in 1982, a position he held till 1991. He played a central role in the United Nations-sanctioned negotiations to end the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan.
The scion of a noble family of Rampur the Sahabzada was essentially a shy person – too shy to write his own memoir. It was also quite clear that the Sahabzada was not an introvert person. This clarification is all the more necessary to distinguish between shyness and introversion because these are two types of personality characteristics. He hated to flaunt his high-profile credentials. To a close circle of friends he was an intellectual who nurtured his own worldview independent of his official positions. He was also founding chairman of Aga Khan University Board of Trustees, a position he held for nearly two decades.
Source: Business Recorder