Upon Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Ayub Khan assumed command of military forces in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) with the rank of brigadier general. In January 1951 he was appointed commander in chief of the Pakistani Army. During 1954–1956 he served as minister of defense and as such was a key player in Pakistan's decision to join the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) and Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) alliances.
After a military coup overthrew the government, the junta declared martial law on 7 October 1958, and Ayub Khan was appointed president. His regime was acceptable to many Pakistanis because it brought a degree of internal stability after years of unrest that followed the partitioning of India. In February 1960 he won a popular referendum as president.
On 8 June 1962, Ayub Khan lifted martial law. A new constitution was also drawn up, giving the executive vast powers. Having instituted an electoral presidential form of government, Ayub Khan continued in office. In the 1965 presidential elections he handily secured victory amid charges of rigged voting. Ongoing tensions with India over the contested Kashmir region led to war between India and Pakistan during 5 August–22 September 1965. Ayub Khan then negotiated with India and agreed to the January 1966 Tashkent Declaration, which many Pakistanis saw as a sellout to India.
Ayub Khan then implemented a new security and diplomatic arrangement dubbed the "triangular tightrope," which consisted of a delicate balancing act with China, the Soviet Union, and the United States. By 1968, public discontent with limited civil liberties had begun to threaten Ayub Khan's hold on power. In March 1969, as public opposition to his regime mounted, he resigned the presidency. He proclaimed martial law and designated General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan its administrator. Ayub Khan died on 19 April 1974 in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Andrew J. Waskey
Ziring, Lawrence. The Ayub Khan Era: Politics in Pakistan, 1958–1969. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1971.