General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan was born at Chakwal in February 1917. His father, Saadat Ali Khan hailed from Peshawar. After completing his studies from the Punjab University, Yahya Khan joined the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. He was commissioned in the Indian Army in 1938. His early postings were in the North West Frontier Province. During World War II, he performed his duties in North Africa, Iraq and Italy. After Independence, Yahya Khan played a major role in setting up the Pakistan Staff College at Quetta. During the war of 1965, he commanded an infantry division. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army in 1966 with the rank of General.
When, in 1969, countrywide agitation rendered the situation out of control, Ayub Khan decided to hand over power to the Army Chief, General Yahya Khan. Immediately after coming to power, Yahya Khan declared Martial Law in the country on March 25, 1969, and assumed the title of Chief Martial Law Administrator. He terminated the Constitution and dissolved the National and Provincial Assemblies. On March 31, he also became President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Unlike Pakistan’s other military rulers, Yahya Khan was not interested in prolonging his rule. Immediately after taking charge of the country, he started looking for options through which he could hand over power to the elected representatives. On March 29, 1970, through an Ordinance, he presented an interim Constitution, the Legal Framework Order. It was actually a formula according to which the forthcoming elections were to be organized. It goes to the credit of Yahya Khan that the first general elections in the history of Pakistan were held during his regime in December 1970.