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Asif Nawaz Janjua
January 3, 1937(1937-01-03) – January 8, 1993 (aged 56)
Place of birth Chakri village, Jhelum District, British India
Place of death Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Allegiance Pakistan Pakistan
Service/branch Pakistan Army (PA – 5336)
Years of service 1957 – 1993
Rank General
Unit Punjab Regiment
Commands held 7th Infantry Division, Peshawar
Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul
V Corps, Karachi
Chief of General Staff (CGS)
Chief of Army Staff
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistan War of 1971
Operation Clean-up
Awards Sitara-e-Basalat (Bar)
Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military)
Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Military)

General Asif Nawaz Janjua, NI(M), SBt (Bar), afwc, psc (3 January 1937 - 8 January 1993) was the 10th Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army from August 16, 1991 till January 8, 1993. His tenure was cut short by his death after suffering a heart attack.[1] His career highlights featured successful pacification operation in Sindh when the province wilted under the most violent period in its history. He also stayed as Corps Commander Karachi and Chief of General Staff before becoming the COAS.[2]

His brother, Shuja Nawaz, is a political and strategic analyst, and the author of the seminal book on Pakistan Army Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within.


Early life

Asif Nawaz was born in the village of Chakri of Jhelum District into Janjua Muslim Rajput family. He was educated at St Mary's, a mission school in Rawalpindi, about which he later said that two Irish teachers, Fr Burns and Miss May Flanagan, had most influence in teaching him the values for his future career. He was the third generation of his family to join the Punjab Regiment and as an outstanding cadet went on a scholarship to Sandhurst.

Military career

He was commissioned in the Punjab Regiment on 31 March, 1957 in the 15th PMA Long Course and received his initial training from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was one of the last Sandhurst-trained soldier (Pakistan Military Academy was started later on) and known as a soldier's soldier with no political ambition. He spent most of his career in the field, holding command positions during the 1965 and 1971 wars with India. From 1982 to 1985 he commanded a division in Peshawar and then headed the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul until 1988. From April 1988 to March 1991 he was Corps Commander, Karachi, in charge of three army divisions. In April 1991 he became Chief of General Staff and was appointed Chief of Army Staff in August 1991 with a tenure of three years.[2]

He took over the command from the retiring General Mirza Aslam Beg at a time when Pakistan's relations with the United States were at an all-time low because of Washington's suspicions about Islamabad's nuclear weapons program.[1]

Chief of Army Staff

At the completion of three-year term of General Mirza Aslam Beg, four generals were in the race to replace him: Lt Gen Shamim Alam Khan, commander XXXI Corps, Bahawalpur; Lt Gen Asif Nawaz, chief of general staff (CGS); Lt Gen Zulfiqar Akhtar Naz; and Lt Gen Hamid Gul, commander II Corps, Multan.[3] The senior two were promoted as four-star generals, with Shamim Alam Khan being named as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Lt Gen Asif Nawaz, who also came recommended by Gen Rahimuddin Khan,[4] was appointed the Chief of Army Staff to replace Mirza Aslam Beg on 11 June, 1991 by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.[5]

Shortly after being named to the post, General Nawaz said the army had no role in politics other than to defend the civilian government and the country. The army's image had been tarnished and its officers corrupted in Pakistan's 25 years of martial law, he said.[1] Nawaz, whose views tended to be pro-Western, spent much of his brief tenure as COAS trying to improve ties between Pakistan and the United States, the two formerly staunch allies.[1] As a strong believer in liberal values, he was trying to improve the military's relations with India and take Pakistan out of the dead-end legacy of Islamic fundamentalist rhetoric left by his two predecessors, General Zia ul-Haq and General Aslam Beg. During Nawaz's tenure, the army took on the surprising role of becoming a protector of a free press and liberal values of criticism.[2]


Sindh operations

It was in Karachi and Sindh where Asif Nawaz came to political prominence as the province wilted under the most violent period in its history. Ethnic battles between Sindhis and Muhajirs claimed thousands of lives, and General Nawaz's troops were frequently called upon to impose curfews and break the civil strife. In a celebrated incident he was instrumental in organising a handover of 'prisoners of war' between ethnic extremist groups. His experience in Sindh stood him in good stead when the government asked the army to take over law and order in Sind last year for a six-month period.[2]

His tenure as Chief of Army Staff was ended abruptly by his death on 8 January 1993, apparently from a heart attack. He suffered the heart attack while he was jogging near his home in Rawalpindi. He is widely remembered as having died under mysterious circumstances. He was replaced by General Abdul Waheed Kakar as the next Army Chief.

Controversial death

The untimely demise of General Asif Nawaz fuelled much controversy, with FIRs being filed against Brigadier Imtiaz, the then Director Intelligence Bureau. The issue gathered momentum following General Nawaz's widow Nuzhat Janjua's filed a formal complaint to the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan about the unnatural circumstances surrounding her husband's death. At the time the General Asif Nawaz had been heading up "Operation Clean-Hands"- an army probe into corruption in Karachi, which lost impetus after he died.

He was survived by his wife and three daughters.


Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister, then described Nawaz as "a true professional soldier," and further stated that "he did what he said he would do -- he kept the army out of politics."[1] Unlike many of his predecessors, Nawaz was incorruptible and often talked of how he would relax when he retired, unlike other generals who plunged into politics.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Gen. Asif Nawaz of Pakistan, 56, A Champion of Democracy, Dies" The New York Times, 9 January, 1993
  2. ^ a b c d e Ahmed Rashid. "Obituary: General Asif Nawaz " The Independent, 11 January, 1993
  3. ^ Asian recorder. Published by K. K. Thomas at Recorder Press, 1991
  4. ^ Nawaz, Crossed Swords, (2007)
  5. ^ "New and improved" The Economist, June 1991

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Shamim Alam Khan
Chief of General Staff
Succeeded by
Farrakh Khan
Preceded by
Mirza Aslam Beg
Chief of Army Staff
1991 – 1993
Succeeded by
Abdul Waheed Kakar


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