• Short Summary

    General Yahya Khan, Pakistan's military leader for nearly two years, now presides over general elections at a time when his regime faces problems in disaster-stricken East Pakistan.

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    General Yahya Khan, Pakistan's military leader for nearly two years, now presides over general elections at a time when his regime faces problems in disaster-stricken East Pakistan.

    The Ganges delta disaster, one of the worst in human history, has come when he faces strong opposition from the East to what it regards as "the entrenched ruling elite" in West Pakistan. His opponents have blamed shortcomings in the relief operation on President Yahya's regime.

    Born in Peshwar, a member of the old distinguished Qizilbash family, Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan commissioned in 1939 after graduating from Punjab University and the Indian Military Academy.

    At the age of 40 he was Pakistan's youngest General, and he became Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan army in 1966. As an administrator, he was made first Chairman of the Capital Development Authority in 1960, and was charged with selecting a suitable site for the Federal Capital.

    President Yahya has ruled the country since March 1969 as head of a small group of service leaders, but has always said that it was his intention to return the country to civilian government.

    He allowed political activity to begin once again in January of this year, fixing October 5th. as the first date for General elections. Immediately there was an outbreak of violence both in East and West Pakistan involving peasants, students and workers.

    The division of the country into two halves separated by Indian territory has been President Yahya's most threatening problem. East Pakistan seeks autonomy, and more seats in the new Parliament than the West. The West has less population, but more wealth and influence in the Nation's life.

    The General Elections were postponed to December 7th after the devastating floods in the Dacca area in August, and the Ganges Delta disaster made it likely they would be postponed again.

    But East Pakistani political leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, head of the powerful Awami League and tipped as a probable Premier if a new Constitution is adopted, has warned of trouble if the polls are frustrated.

    He has also joined in the criticism of the President for not acting more quickly to bring relief to the victims of the flood disaster. Also vocal on this question were Maulana Bhasani of the National Awami Party, and Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, of the People's Party.

    In Foreign policy. General Yahya has followed a policy of keeping the doors open to all the great powers, to secure the aid Pakistan requires for national survival. Only the non-aligned group of nations has rejected Pakistan from its ranks. President Yahya accepts aid from China, the Soviet Union and the United States, while remaining a formal U.S. ally in SEATO.

    President Yahya has maintained a close alignment with the Arab cause in the Middle East. He renewed his contacts with a visit in October to meet the new Egyptian President, Anwar Hussein, an visits President Nasser's tomb. Pakistan also supports Jordan's position in the Middle East, while Amman backs Pakistan in her dispute with indian over Kashmir.

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