Yahya Khan, Agha Muhammad (äˈgä mōhämˈmäd yäˈyä khän) [key], 1917–80, Pakistani general and president (1969–71). He fought with the British in World War II, and rose through the Pakistan army following independence, becoming chief of the general staff (1957–62) and helping to bring General Ayub Khan to power. Yahya Khan performed well during the 1965 war with India, and in 1966 became commander in chief of the army. Economic problems and disputes between East and West Pakistan led to Ayub Khan's resignation and his replacement as president by Yahya Khan in 1969. The imposition of martial law failed to curb domestic unrest, and civil war between East and West Pakistan broke out in 1971. The defeat of Pakistan's army and the ultimate independence of the east as Bangladesh (see also India-Pakistan Wars) caused him to resign in late 1971. He was succeeded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
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