off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid


Members of a rare tribe in
the medical profession

Every year when December comes, it brings with it the sad memories of December 16th 1971 when Pakistan Army surrendered to the enemy forces in the then East Pakistan now Bangladesh. Numerous books have been published by various authors on that unfortunate tragedy and it also includes two members of the Army Medical Corp who in their personal autobiographies have given details of the then prevailing state of affairs in East Pakistan, highlighted the failure of the Army Command and Control Centre, their defective planning which lead to the disaster which resulted in over ninety thousand Pakistani’s mostly members of the Armed Forces becoming Prisoners of War.

These two include Major Gen. Masud ur Rehman Kiani an eminent cardiac surgeon who retired as Commandant of Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology “Kiani Kahani”1 and Major Gen.Ashur Khan a noted cardiologist who retired as Deputy Commandant of AFIC, “Seasons and Cycles of Life”2 Both of them happen to be my dear friends and there are many things common in both these medical personalities. First both come from ordinary family background, both were sent to East Pakistan in 1971, both of them became Prisoners of War in India, both of them continued their studies and earned Fellowship later on after release from India and both of them rose to eminence and earned the coveted posts and ranks of Major General in the Pakistan Army and Commandant and Deputy Commandant of AFIC respectively. Again both of them were at the AFIC at the same time. And the fact that both of them took the courage to write their autobiographies to share their personal life with readers at large, telling nothing but the whole truth is just a coincidence. These autobiographies are highly informative and makes an interesting reading, those of you who have not read them so far I will encourage you to read.

Gen. Ashur Khan is a very simple, quiet man but when his friends and colleagues insisted, he agreed to organize a formal launch meeting for his autobiography. He was kind enough to share with me a signed copy of his autobiography which I had reviewed with critical analysis which was published in Pulse International in September 15, 2019.3

When he rang me up to invite as one of the speakers on this occasion saying that my travel and accommodation arrangements will be made by him, I had no hesitation to accept that but requested him to just arrange for the accommodation and I will make my own travel arrangements. Let me be frank here that I had imagined that he must have asked some pharmaceutical company for the travel and accommodation of the speakers. The function was held at a five-star hotel on November 10th 2019. The speakers included Mr. Shibli Faraz from PTI Government who is son of world reendowed literary figure and pride of Pakistan poet late Mr. Ahmad Faraz, Lt. Gen. Amjad Shoaib from Pakistan Army, Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmad Akhtar former Surgeon General of Pakistan Army who chaired the session, myself besides teachers of Major General Ashur Khan from Kohat. The meeting was very well attended by a select group of medical profession, quite a few former Surgeon Generals of Pakistan Army, numerous Major Generals, Brigs. and others from Army Medical Corp and a few guests from other sections of the society. All the speakers commended the efforts of Gen. Ashur Khan to document and compile this extremely informative book.

I in my presentation had highlighted two particular issues. First of all, I told the audience that it is a pity that no one identified and responsible for the 1971 tragedy has been punished till today with the result that we keep on making the same mistakes again and again i.e. engineered election’s, making and breaking the political parties, producing and nurturing the political turncoats and patronizing the political orphans who have no principles. It is high time that we respect people’s mandate and let all institutions work within their defined role as per Constitution of Pakistan. Secondly I had suggested that one of the chapters relating to the last meeting between late Lt.Gen.Malik Shaukat Hassan a highly respected and decorated surgeon in Pakistan Army and the then Chief of Army Gen. Ziaul Haque who had also assumed the role of President of Pakistan which is included in “ A Gentle Giant” the book compiled and authored by her daughter Dr. Maryam Malik should be an essential reading for every army official, politician and the judiciary particularly from Page No. 190 to 200. Gen. Malik Shaukat Hassan had the foresight and vision who had told General Ziaul Haque that if Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto is hanged, there won’t be political stability in Pakistan for the next fifty years and it will be very unfortunate for this country. All that has now been proved true and we are still struggling for political stability which is so essential for economic development, progress and prosperity of Pakistan. Secondly he had told Gen. Ziaul Haque that army should not find excuses to take over the country and run it which is not its job. Here are a few quotations from that book.

“I would therefore earnestly request you to desist from this execution for I can see only harm and no gain whatsoever from it.” “History will also record the extreme cowardice and apathy of the Pakistani Nation that just sat and watched in silence, allowing an illustrious son of their homeland to be framed in a false murder charge and done to death by a coterie of a few vindictive, utterly selfish and inhuman people. This will remain a permanent stigma on our collective conscience”.

“General Malik Shaukat Hassan blamed the judiciary much more than Zia-ul-Haq for the biased judgment, politicized court proceedings, corrupt procedures and what is now acknowledged as a form of judicial murder, as judges are supposed to uphold justice not debase it”.

“Whatever be the extent of political crisis in the country, the army should not take over.” “The army should concentrate entirely on its professional competence and not attempt coups at every crisis”.

Lt-Gen. Amjad Shoaib in his speech said that we need to look at the 1971 tragedy again, instead of accepting what was told by the commanding officers, we should get and collect information from the junior officers like Gen.Ashur Khan who saw and witnessed everything on the ground at that time. But alas I am sure it will never happen. Urdu translation of Gen. Ashur Khan’s autobiography is now also available.

What surprised me most was the fact that not only the whole function was sponsored by Gen.Ashur Khan himself but also the accommodation of invited guest speakers and not by any pharmaceutical company. Hence, I decided to pay for my accommodation myself. Gen.Ashur Khan enjoys a very good reputation and had he wished, over a dozen pharma companies would have lined up to sponsor this book launch meeting but since he believes and practices ethical medicine, he did not ask for it. The next morning when I wanted to check out, Gen.Ashur Khan had sent someone to settle the bill and also drop me at the Airport. But I had already paid for my accommodation despite insistence from Gen.Ashur Khan to pay since I was his guest. I thanked him for his invitation and hospitality.

It also reminds me yet another finest distinguished medical personality from the Army Medical Corp Late Major Gen. Mohsin Pal who held various coveted posts and commanded army medical institutions during his professional career. He also served as Director General of Health in Federal Government. He was yet another very dear friend from whom I learnt a lot. Once I asked him “Pal Sahib, you have such a varied and rich administrative experience. After retirement why you did not accept some other job?” His reply was that “I had worn this Army uniform and I wish to protect its respect and integrity which is only possible if I do not accept any other employment. God Almighty has given me much more that I deserve”. These are the signs of God’s blessings which are enjoyed by people like Maj. Gen.Ashur Khan, late Major Gen. Mohsin Pal but unfortunately they are members of a very rare tribe these days. We have seen many army officials accepting jobs in Gulf countries soon after their retirement. A large number of Generals, Brigs. Cols, Majors and other officers are on the pay role of property tycoon Malik Raza of Baharia Town who is one of the richest person of Pakistan who offers jobs to these officers and then utilizes their contacts to advance his business interests. Last week Malik Riaz and his son’s Visa have been cancelled by Government of United Kingdom because of his alleged corrupt practices.5

Tail Piece: In view of the recent incidents which has taken place in the country during the last few weeks, Pakistan and we as a Nation have gone on the Ventilator because we do not learn any lesson from our past mistakes and keep on repeating the same again and again. Let us all pray that our beloved country is not harmed and we survive this tragedy.


  1. Kiani Kahani an autobiography by Maj.Gen. Masudur Rehman Kiani. (Cardiac Surgeon) Hamza Printers and Publishers, Kashmir Road, Rawalpindi. 2017. Available from Mohammad Ali Hearts International Hospital, Rawalpindi. 0333-5192026.
  2. Seasons and Cycles of Life-a n Autobiography by Maj.Gen. Ashur Khan (Cardiologist).Shoaibsons Publishers and Booksellers, G.T.Road, Mingora, Swat. Paksitan. 2019.
  3. http://www.pulsepakistan.com/images/Pulse/Issue-Images/2019/Sep-15-19/Ashur-Khan.pdf Accessed on Nov. 29, 2021.
  4. A Gentle Giant (Lt-Gen. Malik Shaukat Hasan) authored by Maryam Malik. Google Books, House No.6, Street 70, F-8/3, Islamabad 44000, Pakistan.
  5. UK Court upholds decision to cancel Malik Riaz Visa. Daily DAWN, Karachji. Pakistan. November 28, 2021.
© Professional Medical Publications. All rights reserved.