Major-General Naseerullah Khan Babar (Urdu: نصیر اللہ خان بابر; born 1928 – 10 January 2011) was a former Interior Minister of Pakistan. He was a retired 2-star general officer in the Pakistan Army, and later career military officer-turned statesman from, the Pakistan Peoples Party. In 1975, Babar took early voluntary retirement from the Pakistan Army to become Governor of NWFP (now Khyber Pukhtunkhwa). He joined the Pakistan Peoples Party after Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's government was dismissed in 1977.
During 1974, Babar was tasked to fund and train Tajik rebels, by the order of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, to stage uprising against the government of Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan. The operation was a huge success for Pakistan as Daoud Khan was forced to change his way and end his support to Anti-Pakistani militants. Babar then proceeded to retire from the army to start his career in politics. He became Governor of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa from 1975 to 1977 under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's government until the term was cut short due to Operation Fair Play— a clandestine operation undertaken to remove Bhutto. In 1988, Babar was the "Special Advisor/Assistant on Internal Affairs" in Benazir Bhutto's first government and between 1993 and 1996, Babar was appointed and tenured as the Interior Minister during Benazir Bhutto's second government where he supervised and successfully contended Operation Blue Fox.
Babar is also credited for successfully curbing down on targeted killings and criminal activities in Karachi in the 1990s. He took the charge of Sindh police and effectively dealt with criminal activities, which were at that time rampant in Karachi, by 1996.
Early life and education
Babar was born in 1928 in Pirpiai near Pabbi, Nowshera district, North West Frontier Province, British India. His family is from the Babar (tribe) of Pakhtuns and hails from the village of Pirpiai in district Nowshera.
Babar's early education was from Presentation Convent School, Peshawar, North West Frontier Province, British India, between 1935 and 1939. From 1939 to 1941 he attended Burn Hall School then located at Srinagar. The school was subsequently shifted to Abbottabad after the Partition of India in 1947. He then attended Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College from 1941–1947 in Dehradun, India and joined the Pakistan Army in 1948. He was a member of the first Pakistan Military Academy long course which graduated in 1950.
In his long career in the Army, Babar served in the Artillery Corps and pioneered the Army Aviation Corps. During the 1965 war with India, Babar while flying a helicopter along with Major Akram landed near an Indian military position believing it to be a Pakistani military position. The position housed 70 Indian soldiers at that time. Upon realization Babar told them that they are surrounded by the Pakistani army and should surrender. Babar single-handedly captured an entire company of Indian army soldiers (70 POWs) and walked them back to the Pakistani territory. For his action he was awarded Sitara-e-Jurat while Major Akram was awarded Tamgha-e-Quaid-e-Azam.
In the 1971 war, he commanded an artillery brigade supporting 23 Division and later commanded an infantry brigade until he was wounded and evacuated from the battlefield. He also had the distinction of having been awarded SJ & Bar. In 1972, he was appointed Inspector General Frontier Corps. He resigned from the Army in 1974 while commanding an infantry division and was appointed as Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
In 1974, Babar was tasked with training and funding Tajiks rebels against Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan. It was in retaliation of Daoud Khan decade long proxy war against Pakistan and armed incursion by Afghan army in Bajaur in 1960 and 1961. Ahmad Shah Massoud and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar were among the rebels trained by Babar. In 1975, Babar trained rebels staged their first uprising in Panjshir valley. 1975 Panjshir uprising has also been described as the first operation conducted by Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in Afghanistan. Before this, ISI did not conduct any operation in Afghanistan. The uprising, though unsuccessful, had forced Daoud Khan to change his ways and end his proxy war against Pakistan.
Joining the PPP
Babar joined the Pakistan People's Party (the PPP) in 1977 after the arrest of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He famously threw away his Hilal i Jurat (with bar) and other army medals at the presiding officer of a military tribunal, when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged by the military regime of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1979.
Interior Minister 1993–1996
Elected in the 1993 general election on a People's Party ticket from Nowshera, he defeated Awami National Party President Ajmal Khattak, with the PPP's victory in the election and was appointed Federal Minister for the Interior by Benazir Bhutto.
In 1995, Babar boasted to Saudi intelligence head Turki bin Faisal Al Saud's chief of staff that under his direction Pakistan's interior ministry had largely created the Taliban in Afghanistan; Babar fondly referred to the Taliban as "my boys."
1997 and onwards
After the dismissal of Benazir Bhutto's second government by then President Farooq Leghari, Babar contested the 1997 elections again from Nowshera as well as from Karachi. He lost in Nowshera to Awami National Party candidate Wali Muhammad Khan and in Karachi to Nawaz Sharif's nominee Ejaz Shafi.
Contesting again in the 2002 general elections, he lost in the electoral sweep of the religio-political alliance of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, mainly due to Musharaff's goals of bringing Islamists in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to power.
In October 2007, he left the Pakistan Peoples Party due to his disagreement with Benazir Bhutto over her support for General Pervez Musharraf. This action was considered as a major blow for the Pakistan Peoples Party because he was their major political leader in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
On 19 August 2008, Naseerullah Babar suffered a mild stroke and was admitted to a hospital. He recovered and returned home in November 2008. Naseerullah Babar died on 10 January 2011. He is buried in the family graveyard in Pirpai, Nowshera district.
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The era of ISI action in Afghanistan now began. A first large scale operation in 1975 was encouragement of large scale rebellion in the Panjshir valley.
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The president Khan revived adversarial stance not only toward Pakistan, but to the sponsor, USSR. First Daoud Khan set off proxy war in Pakistan, but in retaliation faced growing Islamic fundamentalists movement within Afghanistan
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By 1976, while proxy guerilla war with Pakistan, Daoud faced rising Islamic fundamentalists movement led by exiled cleric aided openly by Pakistani prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
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In 1960, Daoud sent Afghan troops disguised as tribesmen into Pakistan's Bajaur tribal agency north west of Peshawar. The intrusion into the area where Durand line was not very well defined, was driven back by local Bajaur Pashtun tribe who opposed any interference in their affairs from Afghanistan or Pakistan. In 1961, Daoud organized larger, more determined Afghan incursion into Bajaur. This time Pakistan employed American supplied F-86 Sabre jets against Afghans, inflicting heavy casualties on Afghan army unit and tribesmen from Konar accompanying them. To Daoud's embarrassment, several Afghan regulars captured inside Pakistan were paraded before the international media.
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