Ghulam Jilani Khan

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Ghulam Jilani Khan
14th Governor of Punjab, Pakistan
In office
1 May 1980 30 December 1985
President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Preceded by Sawar Khan
Succeeded by Sajjad Hussain Qureshi
Secretary General, Ministry of Defence
In office
6 October 1977 4 April 1980
PresidentGeneral Zia-ul-Haq
Preceded by Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Succeeded by Muhammad Riaz
5th Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence
In office
16 December 1971 16 September 1978
Preceded byAkbar Khan
Succeeded by Muhammad Riaz
Personal details
Ghulam Jilani Khan, Urdu: غلام جيلانى خان

Gujranwala, British Indian Empire
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
NationalityBritish Raj Red Ensign.svg  British India
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan
Relations Zia Ullah Khan
ChildrenShaukat Jilani Khan, Usman Jilani Khan, Saulat Jilani Khan, Omer Jilani Khan and Sadia Jilani Khan
Alma mater Indian Military Academy
OccupationSoldier and military administrator
Cabinet Zia military government
Awards PAK Sitara-i-Juraat ribbon.svg Sitara-e-Jurat
Military service
AllegianceBritish Raj Red Ensign.svg  British India
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan
Branch/serviceFlag of Imperial India.svg  British Indian Army
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg  Pakistan Army
Years of service1944–1985
Rank OF-8 PakistanArmy.svg Lieutenant-General
Unit 10th Baluch Regiment
Military Intelligence Corps
Commands Military Intelligence (MI)
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)
Battles/wars Second World War
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Other workFounder, Chand Bagh School

Ghulam Jilani Khan (1925–1999), Urdu : غلام جيلانى خان, was a three-star lieutenant general officer in the Pakistan Army who served as the 14th Governor of Punjab Province and 11th Defence Secretary of Pakistan in the military government of President General Zia-ul-Haq.


Jilani was a junior officer in the Indian Army and served with distinction in the Second World War, then with the independence of 1947 opted for Pakistan and took a leave of absence to join the fighting in Kashmir as an irregular. He joined the Military Intelligence Directorate and commanded field operations in the 1965 and 1971 wars against India. In 1971 he assumed the directorship of the Directorate-General for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). After six years there, he assisted General Zia in the operation code-named Fair Play to remove Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, subsequently joining Zia's military administration as Secretary General at the Ministry of Defence. In 1980 he was appointed martial law administrator and Governor of the Punjab Province, which he governed until 1985. He is also known as the chief architect of Pakistan Muslim League faction headed by Nawaz Sharif (later known as PML-N). His nephew Ziauddin Butt was selected as Chief of the Army Staff by Nawaz Sharif in 1999.

In retirement he was the principal Founder of Chand Bagh School.

Early life and military career

Educated at the Doon School, Dehradun, [1] and the Indian Military Academy, Jilani was commissioned into the Indian Army in 1944 in the 129th DCO Baluchis of the 10th Baluch Regiment as an infantry officer. [2] Between 1945 and 1947 he commanded an infantry platoon of the Punjabi-Pathan Company of the 129th Baluchi Battalion.

In 1947, with the independence, his unit was transferred to the new Pakistan Army. Between 1947 and 1948 he was granted a leave of absence to become a guerrilla fighter in Kashmir. He was not only a fierce opponent of India but also a supporter of the United States. During the 1950s, he was a Company Commander in the Baloch Regiment as well as a Battalion GSO-II and second-in-command, and for a time his Battalion was posted in East Pakistan. He was promoted to Major in 1952 and to Lieutenant Colonel in 1957. After serving briefly as aide-de-camp to Iskandar Ali Mirza in 1955-56 and as an Instructor and Adjutant at the Pakistan Military Academy between 1956 and 1958, he commanded the 11th Battalion of the Baloch Regiment between 1958 and 1960 and the 12th Battalion between 1960 and 1961. In his capacity was Battalion Commander he was for a time also the Martial Law Administrator of Pakpattan District. In 1961 he was selected for a Military Intelligence appointment under the Directorate-General of Military Intelligence. He was promoted to Colonel in 1963, and in 1965 he was the Military Intelligence Field Officer attached with the 6th Armoured Division at Chawinda, and he was awarded with the Sitara-e-Jurat for his combat support service during the war. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier in 1967 and was for most of the time after that a Departmental Director in the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, except for a short stint as Commandant of the Baluch Regimental Centre & Recruit Depot (BRC&RD) at Abbottabad in 1969-70.

During 1971 he was with the Pakistani forces fighting Bangladeshi independence which suffered painful defeats at the hands of the Indian Army. [3] With the rank of Brigadier he was Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-chief of Eastern Command until the middle of 1971, when he was promoted Major-General and posted to Pakistan's principal intelligence agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, as Director General. [4]

From 1971 to 1978 Jilani headed the ISI, being the third man to hold the position. [5] In that role, he served three Pakistani governments, those headed successively by Yahya Khan, Z. A. Bhutto, and Zia-ul-Haq. [6] In 1976, when Tikka Khan retired as Chief of Army Staff, Jilani was the fifth most senior army officer. Tikka Khan considered those in the first, second and fourth positions unsuitable to replace him, so recommended the third most senior officer, Akbar Khan, to Prime Minister and Defence Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. In the event, Bhutto ignored this recommendation and chose instead General Zia-ul-Haq, seventh in the list of seniority. Jilani, who lacked the experience of combat formation command above higher than an infantry Battalion, was thus passed over, but in fact he had lobbied Bhutto to appoint Zia, and Bhutto later wrote that he had been influenced in the matter by General Jilani Khan. [7]

In April 1976, and again in October, Jilani sent reports to Bhutto which recommended the holding of fresh elections sooner rather than later, and Bhutto agreed with this advice. [8] The 1977 general election had been expected in the second half of the year, but on 7 January Bhutto announced that the election would be held on 7 March. [9] When he was later awaiting execution, Bhutto hinted that he might have been trapped in a conspiracy. [8]

Public life

In October 1977, a few months after Zia-ul-Haq's "Operation Fair Play" coup d'état had removed Bhutto and his government from office, with Zia himself becoming Chief Martial Law Administrator, Jilani joined Zia's government as Secretary General at the Ministry of Defence. [2] In February 1979, he led a Military Goodwill Delegation to the People's Republic of China, where he had discussions with Chairman Hua Guofeng and Vice Premier Li Xiannian. [10] [11] Jilani remained at the Ministry of Defence until 1 May 1980, when he was appointed to succeed General Sawar Khan as Governor of the Punjab Province, [2] a powerful post which he retained until the end of the Military administration in December 1985. [12]

Unlike Zia-ul-Haq, Jilani was not particularly pietistic in his private life. [13] In political life, he became well known for his conviction that most of Pakistan's political troubles were due to feudal influences, which he was anxious to weaken. He was suspicious of most politicians from rural areas, so he attempted to encourage and promote new urban leaders. Among these was Nawaz Sharif, an industrialist to whom Jilani gave his first political appointment, as Finance Minister in the Punjab provincial government. In 1985 he nominated Sharif as Chief Minister of the Punjab, and Sharif went on to become Prime Minister of Pakistan. [14]

When the Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang visited Pakistan for talks in June 1981 it was Jillani who greeted him at Lahore airport. [15] On 31 July 1981 an express train from Karachi to Peshawar crashed near Bahawalpur with more than thirty dead, and Jilani announced the same day that he suspected sabotage. [16] In 1983 Jilani issued a directive which created the Marghzar College for Women of the University of Gujrat. [17] In January 1984, as Governor of the Punjab, Jilani was concerned by intelligence that refugees from Afghanistan were buying land in Pakistan and gave instructions to his district administrators to prevent such sales. [18] On 30 December 1985 he stood down as Governor of the Punjab, to be succeeded by Makhdoom Muhammad Sajjad Hussain Qureshi. [12]


In retirement, Jilani took up the cause of the proposed new independent Chand Bagh School, to be a Pakistani boarding school inspired by his own alma mater, the Doon School. [1] After several years of effort, he succeeded in founding the new school, which opened at Muridke in September 1998. [19]

Jillani occasionally wrote on military subjects, and on 5 June 1999, not long before his death, the newspaper Pakistan published an article under his name which analysed the conflict in Kashmir in terms of the region's strategic roads. [20]


Ghulam Jilani Khan is honoured every year at the Chand Bagh School's Founder's Day celebrations. At the ninth such occasion, on 26 February 2011, the main speaker was Yousaf Raza Gillani, Prime Minister of Pakistan, who said

I salute the vision of the School's founder late General Ghulam Jilani Khan, which created opportunities for the deserving students of the less privileged sections to acquire quality education in the school like Chand Bagh. [21]

Jilani's son Lt. Col. (Retd.) Usman Jilani Khan is now the President of the Chand Bagh Foundation.

Jilani’s nephew General Ziauddin Butt was appointed as COAS by his political protégé Nawaz Sharif in October 1999 at the time when the existing Army Chief was in a flight. Nawaz Sharif government directed the flight to be landed in India. This insult of the Commander in Chief triggered immediate reaction of the Armed Forces leading to a bloodless coup by the Pakistan Army on October 12, 1999 which brought General Musharraf to power.


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  1. 1 2 Neena Sharma, Doscos to celebrate 75th anniversary from The Tribune dated 18 October 2010, at, Retrieved 24 March 2012: "Old-timers will happily tell you that the school inspired old Doscos from Pakistan to establish a similar school in their country “The Chand Bagh school is inspired by the Doon and was founded by Lt Gen Ghulam Jilani Khan (retd) in 1998 in Lahore,” said Piyush Malviya, Public Relations officer, Doon School."
  2. 1 2 3 Hasan Akhtar 'Pakistan Army hierarchy switch by President Zia' in The Times , issue 60608 dated 23 April 1980, p. 6, col. B
  3. Abhijit Bhattacharyya, THE TURBULENT HISTORY OF THE STATE WITHIN A STATE from The Telegraph dated 12 February 2012, at, accessed 6 April 2012
  4. Hasan Zaheer, The Separation of East Pakistan: the rise and realisation of Bengali Muslim Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 505: "Brigadier Ghulam Jillani, Chief of Staff to the Commander Eastern Command until the middle of the year...
  5. Sabir Shah, Lieutenant General Zaheer 18th DG ISI since 1959 dated 10 March 2012, at, Retrieved 24 March 2012: "The 17 Pakistan army officials who have headed the ISI to date, are: Brigadier Riaz Hussain (1959 to 1966), Major General (then Brig) Mohammad Akbar Khan (1966 to 1971), Lieutenant General (then Major General) Ghulam Jilani Khan (1971 to 1978)..."
  6. Ashok Kapur, Pakistan in Crisis (Routledge, 2002), p. 128
  7. Ḥusain Ḥaqqānī, Pakistan: between Mosque and Military (Carnegie Endowment, 2005), pp. 111, 112
  8. 1 2 Ḥaqqānī (2005), p. 114
  9. Surendra Nath Kaushik, Pakistan under Bhutto's leadership (1985), p. 259: "Bhutto stated in the National Assembly on January 7, 1977 that general elections in Pakistan would be held on March 7, 1977."
  10. Peter Cheng, Chronology of the People's Republic of China, 1970–1979 (Scarecrow Press, 1986), p. 486
  11. Beijing Review, vol. 22, no. 7, dated 16 February 1979, p. 142
  12. 1 2 Punjab Assembly, 1988–90 (Punjab Provincial Assembly, 1990), p. 27: "19. Lt. General Ghulam Jilani Khan 1-5-1980 30-12-1985"
  13. Ḥaqqānī (2005), p. 112
  14. Aminullah Chaudry, 'The Army in Pakistan's Politics' in Hijacking from the Ground: The Bizarre Story of PK 805 (2009), p. 14
  15. Daily Report: People's Republic of China, issues 104–114 (United States Foreign Broadcast Information Service, 1981), p. 61
  16. Hasan Akhtar, 'Sabotage may have caused rail crash which killed 30' in The Times, issue 60995 dated 1 August 1981, p. 5, col. A
  17. Marghzar College for Women at, Retrieved 24 March 2012
  18. Michael Hamlyn & Hasan Akhtar, Fifth year of Afghan war: Kabul security fails to stop guerrillas in The Times, issue 61729 dated 4 January 1984, p. 5, col. A
  19. Nauman Tasleem, Punjab govt donates Rs 60m to an elite school from Pakistan Today dated 17 June 2011 online at, Retrieved 24 March 2012
  20. Summary of world broadcasts: Asia, Pacific, issues 3549–3561 (British Broadcasting Corporation Monitoring Service, 1999), p. A-4
  21. Speech of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of Pakistan, On the occasion of 9th Founder's Day of Chand Bagh School Archived 23 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine at, accessed 25 March 2012
Political offices
Preceded by
Sawar Khan
Governor of Punjab
1 May 1980 – 30 Dec 1985
Succeeded by
Sajjad Hussain Qureshi