August 02 1971

Good Soldier Yahya Khan

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PAKISTAN'S General Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan had been settled in President's House in Rawalpindi for a full year before he finally agreed to hold a press conference for foreign newsmen. When he entered the packed drawing room where the first conference was held 14 months ago, he immediately let loose a few choice expletives about the hot TV lights. A trembling technician quickly switched them off. Then Yahya started in on the journalists. "Don't play politics with me," he snapped in his characteristically gruff bass, "because I'll play politics with you."

Yahya, 54, runs his country pretty much the same way-with impatience, ill-disguised contempt for bungling civilians, and a cultivated air of resentment about having let himself get involved in the whole messy business in the first place. When Ayub Khan yielded the presidency to him two years ago, Yahya switched from khaki to dark business suits, which he still wears with obvious discomfort. As if to emphasize his longing for the barracks, he occasionally carries a swagger stick and misses no chance to play the simple, straight-talking soldier.

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