Yahya Khan, Agha Mohammed.
(b. 4 February 1917, Chakwal, Peshawar, British India—d. 9 August 1980, Rawalpindi, Pakistan) Yahya Khan was born on the northwest frontier into the Kizilbash clan and was a descendent of an elite military family dating back to the times of Nadir Khan of the eighteenth century. He attended Punjab University and the Indian Military Academy. During World War II he fought in the Middle East and Italy. After the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, he helped organize the Pakistani Staff College and became a brigadier in 1951 at age 34. At age 49, he was a lieutenant general. He played a leading role in the 1958 coup that brought Ayub Khan (qv) to power. He became commander in chief of the Pakistani armed forces in 1966. To forestall further unrest in country, Ayub Khan resigned the presidency on 25 March 1969. At that point, the government was placed in the hands of Yahya Khan. His first act was to declare martial law. National elections were then set for 5 October 1970. On 1 January 1970, he lifted political restrictions to allow for free discussions before the election. The continuing unstable conditions in Pakistan in 1970 and one of the worst natural disasters in history—the cyclone and tidal wave in East Pakistan that left more than 200,000 dead—caused the elections to be postponed until 7 December 1970. Yahya Khan resigned the presidency on 20 December 1971, at which time Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took office. Yahya Khan's loss of power could be blamed on the disastrous war with India (see Indo-Pakistani War) and the loss of East Pakistan (see Bangladesh). Yahya Khan was forced to reinstitute martial law on 24 March 1971. On 8 January 1972, three weeks after he had resigned, Yahya Khan was arrested and remained in house detention for the next five years. After his release, he lived quietly until his death in 1980.
On 23 November 1984, a Soviet citizen, Vasily Yakovievich, working with the North Koreans, defected to South Korea. A firelight between North and South Korean forces developed along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at Panmunjom in which three North Koreans and one South Korean were killed. Following the incident, North Korea broke off trade talks with the South Korean government.