The trajectory of nations hinges upon particular moments, moments of wonder, or madness, or bravery, foolishness, missed chances and fulfilment of Dreams. Pakistan was dreamt up as a unique country with Muslim majority in the subcontinent where Islamic laws and practices could be implemented without any untoward impediments and where Muslims could live happily ever after. Objectives Resolution was a landmark development but it was criticised and kept out of the body of Constitution by conniving secularists. A ray of hope emerged in the late 1970s in the form of General Zia. He was an honest man, intent upon providing an Islamic legal framework to the country. There was however, another military man who could have done an even better job, only if he had succeeded in his plans.

Major General (Retired) Tajammul Hussain Malik was a distinguished soldier of the Pakistan Army and his name has unfortunately been wiped clean from the slate of our history. For the sake of posterity, General Tajammul penned a book of his impressions and thoughts, titled ‘The Story of My Struggle’. Browsing through the pages of his book, one marvels at the thought process of the author and is dismayed at the failure of his plans. Gen. Tajammul let it be known at the outset that “The declared aim of the founder of Pakistan was to make the country an ideological ‘Islamic State’ but ever since its inception, every successive government followed a colonial system inherited from our British masters. Consequently democracy, autocracy, socialism and Islam, all were exploited by the privileged classes to perpetuate their rule in one form or the other. Our real destination for an Islamic state which could provide socio-economic justice to everyone still remains a cherished dream.”

He joined the Indian Army in 1946 as a Cadet and was involved in Pakistan’s wars against India in 1965 and 1971. Apart from being an excellent soldier, he was a practicing Muslim (a rarity in army of that era). During his stint as Military Attaché in Turkey, he found Maulana Maudoodi’s books and was highly impressed by them.

In March 1976, he was superseded for the post of Lieutenant General. He described the incident in the following words: “It is a part of my character that I do not accept defeat so easily particularly when I feel convinced that I have a right cause. On 25th March, I started drafting my representation to the Prime Minister. It is also true that it came to my mind that in case the Prime Minister did not do justice, I would use force to get justice done. Somebody had to stand up and say, enough is enough. Don’t make Pakistan Army a Private Army. There ought to be some justice. Rawalpindi was only 70 miles away and I could complete the entire operation of taking over the Government in a couple of hours on any night.

I knew no one would question the authenticity of my orders, if I had so decided.”

The impulse to seize the reins of power in times of adversity highlights the bravery and leader-like quality in the General. But like most successful generals and rulers in Islamic history, he was betrayed by a trusted friend. He narrated the incident thus: “On 26th March 1976, I called my Colonel Staff to my office. I started telling him that I had such a good record of service both in peace and in war that it could never cross my mind that I would be superseded, and that I intended to put up a representation to the Prime Minister. I told him that I had dedicated my life for the cause of Islam and that I had no desire for accumulation of wealth and property or even for higher promotion except with the ultimate aim of establishing a truly Islamic state on the pattern of Khulafai Rashideen. I gave him the example of China and said that if an atheist state could create an almost classless society, why could not a truly Islamic State.” His Colonel Staff informed military’s top brass about this conversation.

Major General Tajammul was summoned by General Zia to his office. During his stay at the Officers Mess in Rawalpindi, Gen. Tajammaul made another mistake that perhaps sealed his fate. During a conversation with Major General Akhtar Abdul Rehman (who had also been superseded), he jokingly made a remark about a coup d’état to sort this out. Following an internal enquiry, he was forcibly retired from service. He wanted to take part in active politics but he had to wait two years for that. He initially talked to Jamaat-e-Islami but they were not enthusiastic about giving him the control that he wanted for a separate wing of the party. He then joined Asghar Khan’s Tehrik-e-Isteklal.  He was soon fed up with the party because it didn’t conform to his ideas of an Islamic State.

In August 1979, he published the outlines of the Manifesto of ‘Islami Inqalab Party’. He was “convinced that the socio-economic reforms I had suggested would be highly welcomed by the poor masses, and a vast majority of middle class from every walk of life.” He only needed some time to “visit the slums and rural areas all over the country to personally contact the people and explain my views to them”.

Unfortunately, the elections in which he planned to take part, never happened, courtesy his old boss, Zia-ul-Haq. He decided to stage a coup against Zia’s ‘Illegal and Un-Islamic Military Dictatorship’. The plan was “to strike on night of 5/6 March 1980, when all Corps Commanders were scheduled to be present in Rawalpindi. Zia was to be taken alive and made to record a message at the pistol point. The gist of the message was to be that General Zia was handing over power to the Revolutionary Command. The message was to be put on the air first thing the next morning. This message was supposed to be followed by Chairman of the Revolutionary Council [Gen. Tajammul].” The plan reached the ears of Gen. Mujib-ur-Rehman, Zia’s Secretary Information, leading to arrest of all people involved in the plot. Gen. Tajammul was charged by Court Martial and sentenced to ten years rigorous imprisonment in 1980.  He was released in 1988 though.

Being the genius revolutionary that he was, he ended his book with a diagnosis and solution to Pakistan’s current problems: Implementation of ‘True’ Islam. He wrote “Islamic system can’t be enforced unless the existing Colonial system which we inherited from our British masters is completely abolished. To achieve that, there must be a movement for an Islamic Revolution at the national level preferably through the election process after every two years or with clearly defined manifesto.” Unfortunately, this prescription hasn’t been followed till now. He was the General we deserved, not the General we got.