Ghulam Ishaq Khan (Urdu: غلام اسحاق خان; January 20, 1915 – 27 October 2006), was a Pakistani bureaucrat who served as the 7th President of Pakistan, elected in 1988 until his resignation in 1993.
Raised in Bannu, Ghulam Ishaq graduated from Peshawar University and entered the Indian Civil Service, opting for Pakistan after the independence in 1947. Appointed the first chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority by President Ayub Khan in 1961, Ghulam Ishaq also served as Finance Secretary from 1966 to 1970. A year later, he was appointed Governor of the State Bank by President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, before being made Defence Secretary in 1975, assisting with Pakistan's atomic bomb programme. He was retained by President Zia-ul-Haq as Finance Minister in 1977, overseeing the country's highest GDP growth average. Elected Chairman of the Senate in 1985, Ghulam Ishaq was elevated to the presidency after Zia's death in an air crash on August 17, 1988. He was elected president on December 13, as the consensus candidate of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad and Pakistan People's Party.
The oldest person to serve as president, Ghulam Ishaq played a hawkish role against Communist Afghanistan, while relations with the United States deteriorated following the Pressler amendment. Domestically, Ghulam Ishaq's term faced challenges: ethnic riots flared in Karachi, and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto accused him of frustrating her government as part of an alliance with conservative opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and the post-Zia military establishment. Ghulam Ishaq invoked the Eight Amendment and dismissed Benazir's government after just 20 months, on charges of rampant corruption and misgovernance. Sharif was elected Prime Minister in 1990, but Ghulam Ishaq dismissed his government on similar charges three years later. The Supreme Court overturned the dismissal, but the gridlock ultimately led to both men resigning in 1993.
Retiring from public service, Ghulam Ishaq served as rector of the GIK Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology in his native province, dying from pneumonia in 2006. He is viewed contentiously by Pakistani historians; he is credited for personal austerity, but criticized for wielding an autocratic presidency that ousted two governments.
Early life and education
Ghulam Ishaq Khan was born in Ismail Khel, a rural locality on the outskirts of Bannu District, both villages in the North-West Frontier Province of the British Indian Empire, now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. He was an ethnic Bangash Pashtun. His family remains active in politics; his son-in-law is former federal minister Anwar Saifullah Khan while another son-in-law is former Sindh minister and advisor, Irfanullah Khan Marwat. A granddaughter of his was married to Haroon Bilour of the ANP and another to Omar Ayub Khan, the grandson of former military dictator Ayub Khan and son of politician Gohar Ayub Khan.
After his schooling in Bannu, Khan first attended the Islamia College before making transfer to Peshawar University. He obtained double BSc, in Chemistry and in Botany.
Initially looking for a university job, Khan joined the Indian Civil Service in 1941, serving in various provincial assignments on behalf of British India. After independence in 1947, Khan opted for Pakistan and was assigned to the bureaucracy of the provincial government of North-West Frontier Province in 1947. He took over the provincial secretariat as the secretary of the irrigation department, which he held until 1955.