Birthday: November 15, 1899
Died At Age: 70
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Born in: Murshidabad
Famous as: Former President of Pakistan
political ideology: Political party-Independent
Spouse/Ex-: Naheed Begum
children: Enver Mirza, Humayum Mirza, Shah Taj Imam Mirza
Died on: November 15, 1969
place of death: London
education: Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Elphinstone College, University of Mumbai
Who was Iskander Mirza?
Iskander Mirza was a notable politician who had seen India as a British colony, and was also a witness to the partition of India and Pakistan. The vastness of Iskander Mirza’s political and historical knowledge can thus be assumed. His political engagements and administrative qualities were the key to his successful political career. He was appointed to various posts in his entire career, and the dedicated leader never failed to accomplish his duties. His career as a leader scaled great heights with each post he assumed. During his Presidency, there was a lot of instability in the country, and the nation also witnessed the election of four Prime Ministers within a short span of time. He even introduced martial law in Pakistan for the first time and made his acquaintance Ayub Khan the Military Chief. Some regard this imposition of martial law as the reason behind the tumult that was created in Pakistan. Iskander hankered after power and tried to dominate his country. In fact, his insecurities of losing power as a president to Ayub Khan made Mirza conspire against the martial administrator. Unfortunately, the former president became a victim of the martial law which he had himself implemented. Thus, some flaws and wrongly made decisions became the reasons of his downfall. His rule as the President of Pakistan ended and he was forced to live a life devoid of glory
Childhood & Early Life
Mirza was born in a feudal family to Sahibzada Sayyid Muhammad Fateh Ali Mirza and Dilshad Begum, in the late 1890s in Murshidabad district of Bengal, then a part of British India.
His father was a descendent of the last Nawab of Bengal, Nawab Mansur Ali Khan.
He was a student of the ‘Elphinstone College’, Bombay (now Mumbai), and later moved to England to pursue his higher studies at the ‘Royal Military Academy’, Sandhurst. After completing his course in England, he returned to India and got appointed in the ‘British Indian Army’, in 1920.
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From 16th July 1920 onwards, Mirza started his career in the army. He was associated with a battalion named ‘Cameronians’, and was even a part of the ‘Khodad Khel Operations’ as well as the ‘Waziristan War’. He later got transferred to the ‘17th Poona Horse’ regiment as an Army Inspector.
In 1926, he parted ways with the ‘British Indian Army’, and entered the ‘Indian Political Service’ as ‘Assistant Commissioner’ of the ‘North West Frontier Province’.
He was then appointed as the District Officer in the early 1930s and he continued to serve in this post for a few years.
During the period 1938-1945, he was appointed as the Political Agent of the tribal areas. Later, he was the Political Agent of ‘North West Frontier Province’ and Odisha regions, for a year.
In 1946, he resumed the position of the Joint Defence Secretary in the ‘Ministry of Defence’ of British India, with the responsibility of splitting the ‘British Indian Army’ into two armies, namely India and Pakistan.
After the establishment of Pakistan as an Independent nation, Mirza was appointed as its Defence Secretary.
In 1954, he was selected as the Governor of East Pakistan in an attempt to bring peace to the turbulent atmosphere of the country by declaring governor’s rule.
The following year, due to ill health of the then Governor General Ghulam Mohammad, Mirza was appointed to the post as he was the most suitable person to assume the role.
In 1956, Iskandar Mirza became the first President of Pakistan, since the newly formed Pakistani Constitution substituted the Governor General’s position by the President of Pakistan.
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During his presidency, the country suffered a lot of instability, and the martial law which he imposed is said to have been the reason behind this disorder.
Awards & Achievements
In 1909, this political leader became a recipient of the ‘India General Service Medal’.
He was given the ‘King George V Silver Jubilee Medal’ in 1935, and two years later, he was felicitated with the ‘King George VI Coronation Medal’.
In 1939, this former Pakistani President was honoured with the ‘Officer of the Order of the British Empire’.
In the year 1945, Iskander Mirza received the ‘Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire’.
He was also given the ‘Pakistan Independence Medal’ in 1948, after the country gained independence.
The ‘Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal’ was given to this prominent leader in the year 1953.
The Empire of Iran honoured President Mirza with the ‘Grand Collar of the Order of Pahlavi’ in 1956.
In 1958, he received the ‘Order of the Supreme Sun’ from the Kingdom of Afghanistan.
Personal Life & Legacy
Iskander Mirza married Rifaat Begum on 24th November 1922, and the couple were blessed with six children, which included four daughters and two sons.
One of his sons, named Humayun Mirza has authored the book ‘From Plassey to Pakistan: The Family History of Iskander Mirza’.
In 1954, this Pakistani leader married an aristocratic lady Naheed Amirteymour, who was the daughter of Iranian Statesman Amirteymour Kalali.
On 27th October 1958, President Iskander Mirza was made to resign from his presidential post and thereafter, sent into exile to London. It is believed that he lived the rest of his life at a hotel room in London. He led a poor life there as his only source of income was a meagre annual pension. He was helped by friends and close acquaintances in his survival in London.
In November 1969, Mirza breathed his last at a hospital in London. The then President of Pakistan Yakha Khan refused to allow him to be buried in Pakistan. Following this, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (King of Iran) got former president Mirza’s body flown from London to Tehran, where his last funeral rights were observed with due respect.
Some historical facts also suggest that this famous politician died on the same date as he was born