General Mirza Aslam Baig is a retired 4-star ranked general of the Pakistan Army. He served the country as the chief of army staff from 1988 to 1991. He was named the chief of army staff after General Zia ul Haq died in an air crash on August 17, 1988.
Throughout his tenure, he witnessed the Benazir era and the return of democracy in the country. However, the controversial accusations were held against him for financing the Islamic Democracy Alliance (IDA).
Apart from his army career, Baig also taught at the National Defence University as a professor of security studies. Moreover, he also wrote columns regularly for The Nation. However, Baig was surrounded by various controversies, which caused great trouble for him after retirement.
Early Life and Educational Background
Mirza Aslam Baig was born in a small village called Muslimpatti in Azamgarh, India, on August 2, 1931. He belongs to the Urdu-speaking Mughal Turk family. His father was a practicing lawyer known for his services in the Allahabad High Court circle. The ancestors of Mirza Baig’s family were rooted in India’s Mughal Emperor from the early 15th Century to the 18th Century.
The initial educational era of Mirza Baig was carried out in Azamgarh’s high school, and later in 1945, he went to the Shibli National College for undergraduate studies. In 1949, he earned a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts from Shibli College.
In his college days, Mirza loved to play field hockey and was one of the most important hockey team members in his circle. According to the sources, Baig also tried to take revenge on the member of the Indian Congress Party after he had beaten up one of his Muslim fellow hockey team members.
The crowd egged him, and he used his hockey stick to beat a politician in a public place. The incident occurred in 1949, and after that, his family decided to move to Pakistan.
As a Chief of Army Staff
After leaving India, Baig’s family settled in Karachi through a Pakistan Navy ship in 1949. His elder brother was also a part of the commissioned officers and encouraged him to follow the same pathway. Staying in Pakistan was his dream, so he quickly accepted the offer of joining the Pakistan Military Academy. He was part of the 6th PMA studies course and graduated with War Studies in 1952.
From 1952 to 1958, he was appointed as a lieutenant in Baloch Regiment, where he performed well. In 1958, he passed the physical test and qualified for the special forces. He completed his special forces training in the US in 1960.
After returning to Pakistan, he was promoted to Major and introduced to the Special Services Group in the Pakistan Army. He served the country with his wise decisions in the 1960 war against India.
As a Professor
In 1965, Baig entered the National Defense University (NDU) to continue his higher studies. He did a master’s in War Studies and published his thesis research paper. In 1971, he participated in the war against India and was promoted to 1-star brigadier after the war.
After the war, he started teaching at NDU as a professor in 1975. He taught war studies and continued to fulfill his responsibilities as chief instructor in the Pakistan Army until January 1978 and was awarded 2-stars.
As Chief of Army Staff
Mirza Aslam Baig was awarded with 4-stars and promoted to the Vice Chief of Army Staff in March 1987. He fulfilled his duties under General Zia ul Haq, the Chief of Army Staff since 1975.
Due to the reforms and actions of Mirza Aslam Baig, Benazir Bhutto awarded him with the Tamgha-e-Jamhuriat (Medal of Democracy) in 1988. He is the only Pakistani General with 4-stars and a medal.
Baig also drafted a 1989 Gulf War plan and organized massive and useful military exercises. Soon after the Gulf War ended, he proceeded to retire on August 18, 1991.
During the entire career of General Mirza Aslam Baig, he did all the reforms and was dedicated to serving Pakistan. Mirza Aslam Baig book is named ‘Iqtidar ki Majbooriyan‘ (Limitations of Authority) in which he defines how difficult it is to be on such an important designation.
Though he faced various controversies and scandals, his reforms were always valuable for the country. He was awarded 4 national medals, which is proof of his dedication to the Pakistan Army.