NEW YORK - In a tribute to the late Pakistani Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan published on Friday, The New York Times highlighted his sagacity in refusing to implement government orders to take military action to put an end to the uprising in the former East Pakistan when he was the military commander there, stating that the decision ended his Army career but subsequent events proved him to be right.

"He (Yaqub Khan) demonstrated his savvy in the military sphere in 1970 when, as a Lieutenant General and Governor of East Pakistan , he refused a superior’s order to deploy troops to quell a mutiny there.

His defiance ended his Army career, but he was vindicated when his successor’s crackdown led to a massacre, Indian intervention on behalf of the insurgents and the partition of East Pakistan into what became Bangladesh," Sam Roberts, a noted journalist wrote.

Praising his diplomatic skills, Roberts said Yaqub-Khan was Pakistan’s public face in international affairs for three decades .. (he) had helped facilitate President Richard M. Nixon’s overture to China in 1972. In the late 1980s, as a United Nations-sanctioned envoy, he helped negotiate the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the windup of the civil war in Nicaragua.

The report recalled that in 1999, William Safire, the New York Times Op-Ed columnist, described him as “the most skillful diplomat in the world today.”

"As Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Yaqub Khan was one of the several Muslim diplomats who interceded to end the so-called Hanafi siege in 1977, in which a breakaway group from the Nation of Islam seized three buildings and at least 134 hostages in Washington. A radio reporter was killed, and the remaining hostages were released after a 39-hour standoff.

" Yaqub Khan also served as Pakistan’s envoy to the Soviet Union and France, and was Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar’s United Nations special representative for Western Sahara.”

Roberts gave complete details of his illustrious career, stating Safire, the New York Times write who was a language maven, noted Yaqub-Khan’s erudition, lauding him for what he called the best new politico-diplomatic usage of 1982.

Safire wrote that the Ambassador “used a word I never heard before to describe the country that lies between the Soviet Union and the gateway to the Persian Gulf: ‘Afghanistan might one day be intended by the Soviets to be a glacis.’” (The word is loosely defined as “buffer.”)

"But above all, Safire was impressed by Yaqub Khan’s diplomatic skills, stating he had been dispatched by his country on delicate missions, including when Pakistan sought to reassure Washington that a bloodless military coup by Pervez Musharraf against an elected but incapable government was both necessary and temporary," the Times said.

“Is democracy an end in itself,” Yaqub Khan then asked rhetorically, “or a means to an end? What do you do when democracy leads ineluctably to chaos?”