‘General Mitha; a Down to Earth Person’

By Maj Aziz-ur-Rehman, Retd (15th War Course)

Photo of Maj Aziz-ur-Rehman (15th War Course) Air Def Editor’s Note: Maj Aziz-ur-Rehman is from Air Def. After the retirement, he has settled in Rawalpindi.

My ex Commanding Officer, Lt Col Mir Hadayat Ullah, Retd, (31st PMA seniority), has narrated this anecdote. He was commanding an Air Defence unit in Malir Cantt. One fine morning, he was informed by a RP Sepoy, “Sir, aik General Sahib aap ko milna chahtay hain”.

That RP Sepoy was deputed at the barrier placed near the entry point to Malir Cantt to check the traffic coming from Malir Halt direction. He was tasked not to allow all incoming traffic from Malir Halt to pass through the unit lines, that provided a short cut to Malir Cantt destined vehicles.

As a gesture of courtesy, CO came out of the office to greet the guest (General Sahib). He was awestruck to see Maj Gen Aboobaker Osman Mitha (Retd), standing close to his Suzuki Pick-up which he himself drove, wearing an ordinary shirt and shorts, with a pipe in his mouth.

Maj Gen Aboobaker Osman Mitha of SSG, Pakistan Army

The CO saluted him. The General shook his hand with a pleasant smile on his face. After the initial pleasantries, Gen Mitha asked Col Hidayat, “Can you do me a little favour, please?”

“Sure, Sir”, replied the Col.

The Gen said, “I am running a poultry farm in Damloti Farms and have to frequently commute from Karachi to my farm in this Suzuki pick-up. Can you please allow me, being an ex soldier, to pass through your unit lines area? It is quite a short cut which will save much of my time.”

Since General Mitha had a reputation of a hard-taskmaster and during his tenure as Commandant PMA would appear at unimaginable time and places during the Cadets exercises, witnessing him in that attire and down to earth demeanour was perplexing for Col Hidayat Ullah.

He immediately ordered the RP Sepoy not to stop the Gen in future and let him pass through the unit lines.

Such were the officers of that vintage!! Simple and workaholic.

Editor: Brig Mitha (Later Maj Gen) was Comdt PMA from 15 November 1966 to 5 February 1969. Here is a tribute to Gen Mitha by Maj Gen Parvez Akmal (pen name ‘P.A. Lala’). ‘P. A. Lala’ is from 42nd PMA Long Course, he was a cadet when Brig Mitha was Comdt PMA.

Maj Gen Parvez Akmal (42nd PMA) - Poetry about Gen Aboobaker Osman Mitha

Related Pages:
Remembering Our Comrades
Pakistan Army Blog (Retired Officers)

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  1. Interesting part is Gen Mitha was born in Bombay, educated there and passed out from Indian Military Academy. He was a Memon from Kathiawar (Gujrat). Memons are not fighters / warriors but businessmen. Same with Edhi Sahib. They’re down to earth people.

    On the other hand, Gen Zoravar Bakshi (most decorated Indian soldier) was born in Gulyana, Gujar Khan, Pakistan. The area is known to produce warriors. He graduated from Gordon College, Rawalpindi.

    Both gentlemen fought in Second World War for British Army.

    Just mentioning genetics / DNA here. Not to offend anyone.

  2. Col Shah Alam, Retd (34th PMA) Canada says:

    Gen A O Mitha was indeed a very honest, upright and a dedicated soldier. May Allah bless his soul.

    I had the pleasure of serving under him at the HQ 1 Armd Div in 1969-70 when he, despite being from Infantry, was conferred the unique privilege of commanding an Armoured Div. It was during this tenure that I had the opportunity of seeing this extraordinary soldier at close quarters and admire his uprighteousness.

    Elsewhere in the comments I read that he was prematurely retired and I think that deserves a comment as well. Gen Mitha had the misfortune of being close to and a confidante of the Yahya regime. Driven by his camaraderie, he tried to save the infamous Yahya coterie from downfall in the post 1971 War coup. Towards that end he tried moving a coy of SSG to HQ 6 Armd Div to capture the officers who were steering the coup: his attempt failed but the venture had him firmly identified as one from Yahya’s regime. What followed later was a logical and inevitable consequence.

    As a retired man he lived with the bare minimum. This excerpt (reproduced below) from Wikipedia describes that part of his life best:

    “Had it not been for the generosity of a friend living in Britain, who asked Mitha to manage his farm for him, he would have been on the street. Maj Gen AO Mitha died in December 1999. After he died, one of his friends wrote to his wife, “At the end of a tumultuous life, all he wanted was a room to sleep in, one to write and eat in – a space to walk, reflect and gaze across the fields to the distant hills.”

    And thank you, Maj Aziz, for taking me back in the time tunnel. God Bless you.

  3. Maj Malick Shaukatul Islam (R) USA says:

    People may carry diverting opinion after reading Col Masood and Maj Aziz-ur-Rehman. I leave it to any body’s guess.

  4. Col Jehan Zeb (retd) says:

    I am too junior to comment on Gen Mitha but one thing I remember once I joined unit in 1983 as 2 Lt stories regarding character of Gen Mitha were quite rife and he was quoted as man of character by people even who did not see him that time.
    And no doubt I know Maj Aziz ur Rehman thoroughly an inspiring personality and with character not less than Gen Mitha if not more than him.

  5. Gen A.O. Mitha was a great soldier. He was QMG at GHQ when prematurely retired without due cause by the civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in Dec 1971. He was just over 48 years old. His pension was confiscated but probably it was later restored by Gen Zia.

  6. Lt Col Amir Afzal Khan, Retd (40th PMA) says:

    He was my commandant and a great man. I have also read his book ‘Unlikely Beginnings: A Soldier’s Life’. He was prematurely retired by Bhutto on recommendation of the then C-in-C Lt Gen Gul Hassan.They were of course very unjust to him.

  7. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) 2nd SSC says:

    Dear Editor,
    Stories and incidents keep changing as they drift from one narrator to another. This narration is no different. May I give the true story (I hope Maj Aziz will not mind) as it happened in my Regt (41 HAA) and the Guard Commander Hav Azizullah was from my Bty. The Commanding Officer was col Ayub and not Col Mir Haydiat Ullah. It was 1975 and it was Sunday.The Guard Commander did not recognize Gen Mitha and they had a little argument but when Gen identified himself the Guard Commander allowed him to proceed.
    Gen Mitha went to the unit and called CO at home and told him regarding the incident. Next day Guard Commander was produced on offense report and was demoted. Being from my Bty, I consoled him and told him that he did a right thing and that I appreciate him on that act.
    Just to inform during the same period and at the same Check Post one of our guard commanders at night was hit by a PIA van and died. The guard commander was standing at the barrier to check the coming vehicle but the van instead of stopping rammed into the barrier and the barrier crashed against the guard commander. The injuries were so severe that he could not survive. This complete incident was witnessed by our course mate who was duty officer and was there for checking the guards.

    • Dear Masood,
      The units keep moving to other stations but Gen Mitha’s poultry farm remained at Damloti and he used the same short cut through unit lines. May be the similar incident occurred with the unit of Col Hadayat Ullah. Maj Aziz is requested to throw some light on this aspect.

      • Maj Azizur Rehman says:

        I have given my version. Nothing to add. It is possible that while narrating the incident, Col Mir Hidayat Ullah abridged the story.

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