Major General Iskandar Mirza, is a blunt soldier who believes his people ready only for a “controlled democracy.” Descended from one of the great Mogul families of India, and the son of a wealthy Bengal landowner, Mirza is a Moslem aristocrat and autocrat. Says he bluntly: “Democracy requires breeding. Pakistan is not ripe for democracy. These illiterate peasants certainly know less about running a country than I do.” Mirza joined India’s raj, or ruling class, when the British sent him to Sandhurst military college in 1918. There he got to be a crack rifle shot and earned his cricket “blue.”; Gazetted an officer in the British army, he fought with the Cameronians (2nd Scottish Rifles) at Kohat in 1921 and with the 17th Poona Horse in Waziristan in 1924. He was Britain’s top policeman in the Khyber Pass area for 20 years before becoming Joint Secretary of the Indian Government Defense Ministry at New Delhi, and, after the partition of India, Pakistan’s first Defense Secretary.
At 55, Mirza. a whisky drinker and a heavy cigarette smoker, loathes intrigue and is staunchly loyal to those who trust him. Says he of Pakistan’s politicians: “They are mostly crooks and scalawags.” Last year when, as Governor of East Bengal, he worked titanically amid the flood disaster and was mobbed by genuinely cheering crowds, a Pakistani said: “Mirza has done more for the common man whom he says he despises than all the politicians who promised a new heaven and earth to get votes.” Today Mirza lives in a big house with ample grounds and cool white porticos in the center of Karachi with his second wife, a sophisticated Persian.* Mirza’s appointment to the governor generalship requires the formal confirmation of Queen Elizabeth, but Strongman Mirza is in no doubt about what his authority will give him. Said he: “The Governor General must have extensive and clearly defined powers, including the power to dismiss governments.” Mirza’s first job was to accept the resignation of Premier Mohammed Ali. The Premier did not want to quit, but the Moslem League, in an all-night session, removed him as its leader. Rebuffed by his party, Ali gave up the premiership too.
Mirza most cordial and very voluble especially on the subject of Mohammad Ali [Bogra]. His remarks concerning Prime Minister could almost be considered treasonable.
He [Mirza] said that Pak had already chosen side of US and that there should be no concern re ratification of Manila Pact. When dressed in terms of practical politics, Mirza said if gang who engineered amendment went too far “We will stop them”. When specifically asked who “We” comprised he answered, “the army and the civil servants.”
Mirza openly showed little respect for Mohammad Ali [Bogra] and placed upon him greatest part of blame for recent happenings. Mohammad Ali, he said, should be treated as a “school-boy as we treat him in Karachi.” Mirza said that the only way for the US to stiffen Ali’s spine was to tighten the windscrew of economic and military assistance, making such assistance clearly dependent upon assurances of sane govt in Karachi. Mirza strongly recommended this course of action to US and stated his belief that Ali would respond favorably.